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THE ACA Cinema Project & Japan Society : Family Portrait: Japanese Family in Flux

Her Love Boils Bathwater © 2016 “Her Love Boils Bathwater” Film Partners 

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“FAMILY PORTRAIT: JAPANESE FAMILY IN FLUX” 

FILM SERIES SHOWCASES COMPLEX FAMILY BONDS

OF THE MODERN JAPANESE FAMILY IN THE 8TH EDITION OF THE ACA CINEMA PROJECT

ACA Cinema Project                   japan society

Presented by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan and Japan Society February 15-24, 2024 at Japan Society and partner venues in NYC

Screenings including Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s Yoko, U.S. and New York Premieres, rare revivals, and in-person appearance by award-winning director Ryota Nakano

New York, NY (January, 2024) Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan and Japan Society are proud to announce the eighth installment of the ACA Cinema Project film series – Family Portrait: Japanese Family in Flux – an ongoing initiative fostered by the Government of Japan to increase awareness and appreciation of Japanese films and filmmakers in the United States. The ACA Cinema Project has presented events in both New York and LA since 2021, and its upcoming edition will showcase over nine contemporary and classic films from February 15-24, 2024 all with the central theme of the modern family. The bonds of the Japanese family are often revered in the West, and this series will both celebrate these traditions as well as call into question their reality and relevance in our quickly changing modern world.

Series highlights include US Premiere of Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s Yoko, starring international star Rinko Kikuchi in a bravura performance as a woman hitchhiking over 400 miles to her father’s funeral; the U.S. Premiere of Keiko Tsuruoka’s Tsugaru Lacquer Girl, the heart-tugging story of a family lacquerware business on the brink of collapse run by Kaoru Kobayashi of Midnight Diner fame and the daughter who strives to carry on its legacy despite deeply-held traditional gender beliefs; and a Classics slate featuring a rare 35mm presentation of Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Twilight.

A special spotlight will be given to director Ryota Nakano, who has spent his career keenly capturing the complex feelings of families when faced with adversity. This latest film, The Asadas, centers on the power of family in the aftermath of the Fukushima tragedy and will be presented along with his two previous works, A Long Goodbye and Her Love Boils Bathwater. Nakano will appear in-person at Family Portrait: Japanese Family in Flux to speak during his screenings and take part in a reception. Her Love Boils Bathwater is Nakano’s most famous work and follows a mother played by the Kinema Junpo award-winning actress Rie Miyazawa and her goal of reuniting her family following being diagnosed with cancer. Her Love Boils Bathwater has won multiple honors at the Japan Academy Awards, Blue Ribbon Awards, and Japanese Movie Critics Awards.

“We’re honored to bring Family Portrait: Japanese Family in Flux to life with the Agency for Cultural Affairs,” said Peter Tatara, Japan Society’s Director of Film. “The ACA Cinema Project has brought some of Japan’s newest and most important films ripe for discovery to New York and LA, and we look forward to shining a spotlight together with the ACA on the changing face of the Japanese family – and both the uniquely Japanese and universally human lessons this imparts.”

The Family Portrait series is presented by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan and Japan Society. Japan Society is additionally home to JAPAN CUTS, the largest contemporary Japanese film festival in North America. Family Portrait events will take place both in Japan Society’s landmarked museum in Midtown Manhattan as well as at select other locations throughout New York City.

The complete Family Portrait schedule and ticket information will be coming later in January and will be listed at japansociety.org/film and aca-cinema-japan.com. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th St, New York, NY 10017.

FEATURE SLATE

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles. Films are listed alphabetically.

A Long Goodbye (New York Premiere)

『長いお別れ』

Dir. Ryota Nakano, 2019, 127 min., DCP, color. With Yu Aoi, Yuko Takeuchi, Tsutomu Yamazaki.

Based on the book by Naoki Prize-winning writer Kyoko Nakajima, A Long Goodbye traces the gradual memory loss of the aging Shohei (Tsutomu Yamazaki) due to Alzheimer’s and the painful challenges and unexpected joys his two daughters experience as they return home to care for him. While Alzheimer’s robs Shohei of his past, his long goodbye brings new memories and a new closeness to his loved ones.

The Asadas

『浅田家!』

Dir. Ryota Nakano, 2020, 127 min., DCP, color. With Kazunari Ninomiya, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Masaki Suda.

Inspired by real-life photographer Masashi Asada, director Ryota Nakano’s latest film balances humor and heart in an unexpectedly true story. An energetic dreamer in a traditional family, Masashi (Kazunari Ninomiya)’s initial artistic endeavors are met with skepticism and little support, but in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, Masashi’s photographic skills are given new purpose, and embarks on a mission that brings his family – and families across Japan – together.

Her Love Boils Bathwater (New York Premiere)

『湯を沸かすほどの熱い愛』

Dir. Ryota Nakano, 2016, 125 min., DCP, color. With Rie Miyazawa, Hana Sugisaki, Joe Odagiri.

Rie Miyazawa stars as Futaba, a single mother diagnosed with terminal cancer. With little time left, she sets out on a mission to reconnect her family, reuniting with her husband, reassuring her daughter, and bringing both together to save the family business. A popular and critical hit, Her Love Boils Bathwater won Rie Miyazawa Best Actress and Hana Sugisaki Best Supporting Actress at the Japan Academy Awards, and the film was Japan’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

Still Walking 

『歩いても 歩いても』

Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008, 114 min., 35mm, color. With Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, Yoshio Harada.

35mm Presentation. The Yokoyama family gathers for an annual commemoration of the eldest son Junpei, who drowned fifteen years ago while saving someone’s life. Over the course of the day, suppressed tensions and resentments are gradually revealed amidst forced pleasantries and shared meals as second son Ryo (Hiroshi Abe) endures feelings of inferiority in front of his curmudgeon father (Yoshio Harada) and passively judgmental mother (Kirin Kiki), both of whom disapprove of his recent marriage to a widow (Yui Natsukawa) with a 10-year-old son. Dedicated to his late mother, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2008 drama is among his most personal films—a masterfully directed, emotionally nuanced expression of the love, heartbreak and comfort within family relationships—and a modern classic of Japanese cinema.

Tsugaru Lacquer Girl (US Premiere)

 『バカ塗りの娘』

Dir. Keiko Tsuruoka, 2023, 118 min., DCP, color. With Mayu Hotta, Kaoru Kobayashi.

Traditional tsugaru-nuri lacquerwork is the Aoki family’s legacy, but their business is in decline and father Seishiro (Kaoru Kobayashi) doesn’t know if it will continue to the next generation. The family’s only hope is daughter Miyako (Mayu Hotta), but her desire to lead the family business upsets generations of customs, established gender roles, and Seishiro himself. Tsugaru Lacquer Girl vividly celebrates one of Japan’s most traditional arts and asks poignant questions about history, family, and if the past has a place in the future.

Tokyo Sonata

『トウキョウソナタ』

Dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008, 119 min., DCP, color. With Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Yu Koyanagi.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s appropriately terrifying take on the domestic drama looks beyond the platitudes of familial values and empty promise of a happy life into the recesses of the human condition. Laid off in a wave of company downsizing, salaryman Ryuhei hides his misfortune, opting instead to deceive his family into thinking he still remains employed. Equally adrift are wife Megumi (Kyoko Koizumi), yearning for someone to pull her out of her banal routines; teen Takashi who sees no future living in Japan, and younger son Kenji who simply desires to play piano. Searching for catharsis, the family members begin to live out clandestine lives rather than confront the creeping divide between them. Winner of the Jury Prize of the Un Certain Regard section at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Kurosawa’s cynical look at the subsurface decay and inadequacies of the traditional family points to its inherent breakdown.

Yoko (US Premiere)

『658km、陽子の旅』

Dir. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, 2022, 113 min., DCP, color. With Rinko Kikuchi, Pistol Takehara, Asuka Kurosawa.

International star Rinko Kikuchi plays the titular Yoko in an unorthodox road movie following an isolated woman’s journey to hitchhike over 400 miles to her estranged father’s funeral. As she encounters a sweeping range of travelers across her trek, what will Yoko learn from each of them and what will they learn from Yoko? And in crossing this physical distance, can Yoko mend the emotional distance between her father and herself? Winner of Best Picture and Best Actress at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

CLASSICS

Muddy River

泥の河

Dir. Kohei Oguri, 1981, 105 min., DCP, black and white. With Takahiro Tamura, Mariko Kaga, Nobutaka Asahara.

Taking place in working class Osaka 11 years after Japan’s defeat, Kohei Oguri’s naturalistic debut detailing an unforgettable summer friendship between two young boys is tinged with a poetic melancholy. Seen through the eyes of 10-year-old Nobuo whose world is governed by the riverside traffic of sputtering barges, fishing boats and a “monstrous carp,” Muddy River dwells on Nobuo’s last days of innocence as he befriends poor river dweller Kiichi who lives nearby with his sister and mysterious mother (Mariko Kaga) on a ramshackle houseboat. Caught in the lives of its worn-down and impoverished residents—some still living the war, others dreaming of a new life—Oguri’s stunning black-and-white feature remains a heart-wrenching portrait of postwar Japan and its afflictions, the effects of which reverberate deep within the wordless exchanges and crestfallen faces of its downtrodden subjects.

Tokyo Twilight

『東京暮色』

Dir. Yasujiro Ozu, 1957, 140 min., 35mm, black and white. With Setsuko Hara, Ineko Arima, Isuzu Yamada.

35mm Presentation*. In the thick of the industrial hums and billowing smokestacks of postwar Tokyo, Yasujiro Ozu’s crepuscular drama concerns the lives of elderly Shukichi’s (Chishu Ryu) two grown-up daughters, each taking lodgings at their father’s Tokyo home. Hemmed in by setbacks and personal troubles, Takako (Setsuko Hara) seeks refuge from her abusive husband while “delinquent” younger sister Akiko (Ineko Arima) faces the shock of an unplanned pregnancy. In delicate strokes, Ozu orchestrates Tokyo Twilight across waystations of contemporary Tokyo—from seedy mahjong parlors and Western-themed bars with Latin beats to desolate shipyards and train crossings. With quiet devastation and lingering regret, Ozu’s final black-and-white feature is one of his unequivocal masterpieces, a woeful melodrama illuminated against the fading light of day. *Note: Reel 2 will be projected on DCP.

About Japan Society

Japan Society is the premier organization connecting Japanese arts, culture, business, and society with audiences in New York and around the world. At Japan Society, we are inspired by the Japanese concept of kizuna (絆)–forging deep connections to bind people together. We are committed to telling the story of Japan while strengthening connections within New York City and building new bridges beyond. In over 100 years of work, we’ve inspired generations by establishing ourselves as pioneers in supporting international exchanges in arts and culture, business and policy, as well as education between Japan and the U.S. We strive to convene important conversations on topics that bind our two countries together, champion the next generation of innovative creators, promote mutual understanding, and serve as a trusted guide for people everywhere who seek to more fully appreciate the rich complexities and abundance of Japan. From our New York headquarters, a landmark building designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura that opened to the public in 1971, we look forward to the years ahead, which will be defined by our digital and ideational impact through the kizuna that we build. Our future can only be enhanced by learning from our peers and engaging with our audiences, both near and afar.

Japan Society programs are made possible by leadership support from Booth Ferris Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Film programs are generously supported by ORIX Corporation USA, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and Yen Press. Endowment support is provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and The John and Miyoko Davey Endowment Fund. Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, David Toberisky, and Friends of Film. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the official Japanese airline sponsor of Japan Society Film. Housing assistance is provided by the Kitano Hotel, the official hotel sponsor of Japan Society Film.

About the ACA Cinema Project

The ACA Cinema Project is a new initiative organized as part of the “Japan Film Overseas Expansion Enhancement Project,” an ongoing project founded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan (ACA) to create opportunities for the increased exposure, development and appreciation of Japanese cinema overseas through screenings, symposiums and other events held throughout the year. The ACA Cinema Project introduces a wide range of Japanese films in the United States, a major center of international film culture, together with local partners, such as Japan Society, IFC Center and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Linwood Dunn Theater.

Family Portrait: Japanese Family in Flux is the eighth event in the ACA Cinema Project series, with previous installments including 21st Century Japan: Films from 2001-2020, Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors, New Films from Japan, Emerging Japanese Films, and The Female Gaze: Women Filmmakers from JAPAN CUTS and Beyond.

Nobuhiro Hosoki
Nobuhiro Hosokihttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Nobuhiro Hosoki grew up watching American films since he was a kid; he decided to go to the United States thanks to seeing the artistry of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange.” After graduating from film school, he worked as an assistant director on TV Tokyo’s program called "Morning Satellite" at the New York branch office but he didn’t give up on his interest in cinema. He became a film reporter for via Yahoo Japan News. In that role, he writes news articles, picks out headliners for Yahoo News, as well as interviewing Hollywood film directors, actors, and producers working in the domestic circuit in the USA. He also does production interviews for Japanese distributors of American films and for in-theater on-sale programs. He is now the editor-in-chief of Cinemadailyus.com while continuing his work for Japan.

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