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Film at Lincoln Center Announces The Radical Cinema Of KIJŪ YOSHIDA

FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER ANNOUNCES

THE RADICAL CINEMA OF KIJŪ YOSHIDA

DECEMBER 1–8

The most complete retrospective of one of Japan’s greatest cinematic

rebels presented on 35mm and 16mm

Heroic Purgatory; Confessions Among Actresses; Flame and Women; Wuthering Heights; and Eros + Massacre (images courtesy of the Japan Foundation)

New York, NY (November 2, 2023) – Film at Lincoln Center announces “The Radical Cinema of Kijū Yoshida,” a retrospective of the films of one of Japan’s greatest cinematic rebels, running from December 1 through 8, with all films presented on 35mm or 16mm at FLC’s Walter Reade Theater, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and the Japan Society.

Of the iconoclastic Japanese filmmakers who rose to prominence in the 1960s, perhaps none worked as fearlessly and concertedly toward crafting an unapologetically subversive body of work than Kijū Yoshida (1933–2022). Starting his career as a young recruit to Shochiku’s directing apprenticeship system (alongside fellow enfant terrible Nagisa Ōshima), Yoshida’s earliest work finds him radically politicizing the commercially minded projects to which he was assigned, frequently in collaboration with the actress Mariko Okada, who would become his wife and lifelong creative partner. They soon moved away from the mainstream film industry entirely in order to create increasingly ambitious, eminently political films together, exemplified by their epochal Eros + Massacre (1969), a legendary work that traces a visionary counter-history of radical art and politics in Japan. An intrepid experimentalist whose films confront the political issues of his day with a keen interest in the taboo and a staunch refusal to be confined to any one formal approach, Yoshida’s oeuvre endures as one of Japanese cinema’s wildest and most intellectually stirring.

Most notably, the series will feature Yoshida’s famed political trilogy, which captures significant moments in 20th-century Japanese history: Eros + Massacre (1968), regarded as his masterpiece, examining the last days of anarcho-feminist writer Noe Ito (Mariko Okada) and her lover, the anarchist theorist Sakae Ōsugi, before their assassination; Heroic Purgatory (1970), a kaleidoscopic, mazelike memory piece about an atomic engineer whose past as a college-age revolutionary militant erupts into the present; and Coup d’état (1973), a spellbinding portrait of notorious militarist Ikki Kita, whose 1936 attempt at staging a coup against the Japanese government would later serve as inspiration to the similarly controversial nationalist writer Yukio Mishima.

Additional films in the series include Akitsu Springs, (1962), considered to be Yoshida’s first commercial success in this early studio phase, is his first in color and stars Okada, who became his lifelong collaborator; A Promise (1986), a meditative drama about aging and dignity and Wuthering Heights (1988), a broodingly atmospheric version of Emily Brontë’s novel transposed to medieval Japan, both were made after Yoshida returned to filmmaking following a 13-year hiatus. And his final feature, Women in the Mirror (2002), which links three generations of women in Hiroshima back to the bomb.

Presented in partnership with the Japan Foundation, New York. In cooperation with the National Film Archive of Japan. Organized by Dan Sullivan.

Acknowledgements:
Austrian Filmmuseum; Galerie Lumière des Roses; Gendai Eigasha; Japan Society, New York.

Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, November 8 at noon at filmlinc.org (Dec. 8 screenings at Japan Society will be on sale at japansociety.org), with an early access period for FLC Members starting Tuesday, November 7 at noon. Tickets are $17; $14 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $12 for FLC Members. See more and save with a 3+ Film Package ($15 for GP; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC Members), an All-Access Pass for $149 or a Student All-Access Pass for $99. Add dinner at Café Paradiso, located in FLC’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, with our $30 Dinner + Movie Combo.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films will screen at
the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.),
the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 W. 65th St.),
or the Japan Society (333 E. 47th St.)

Good-for-Nothing
Kijū Yoshida, 1960, Japan, 35mm, 88m
Japanese with English subtitles
Yoshida’s debut feature vividly depicts the ennui and intellectual and spiritual restlessness of a generation of bourgeois youth in Tokyo at the dawn of the 1960s. Our protagonist is the Rimbaud-reading son of a prominent business executive; as he and his companions idle around, Yoshida visionarily renders their casual nihilism as an inevitable outcome of the sociocultural malaise resulting from Japan’s postwar reconstruction and subsequent economic boom. A work of formidable formal accomplishment and potent social critique, Good-for-Nothing announced Yoshida as one of Japanese cinema’s great young iconoclasts. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Friday, December 1 at 2:00pm
Tuesday, December 5 at 8:45pm

Blood Is Dry
Kijū Yoshida, 1960, Japan, 35mm, 87m
Japanese with English subtitles
Yoshida’s satirical second feature again ferociously critiques Japanese society following its postwar reinvention as a capitalist giant. The employees of a company are facing imminent layoffs, when one salaryman (Keiji Sada) among them attempts to stave off the mass termination by threatening to commit suicide. Interrogating both Japan’s transition into becoming a media-dominated society of the spectacle and the humanism of its leading film artists after the catastrophe of World War II, Blood Is Dry showcases Yoshida’s incisive and idiosyncratic reflections upon the alienation that marked this period of profound social and cultural flux. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Friday, December 1 at 4:15pm
Saturday, December 2 at 8:30pm

Akitsu Springs
Kijū Yoshida, 1962, Japan, 35mm, 113m
Japanese with English subtitles
The first great commercial success of his young career, Akitsu Springs is a tear-jerking romance that finds Yoshida working in color and in collaboration with his frequent star and lifelong filmmaking partner Mariko Okada (in her 100th on-screen appearance). Adapted from a novel by Shinya Fujiwara and set in thermal spring–rich Okayama, the narrative follows the doomed love between an innkeeper (Okada) and a tubercular man (Hiroyuki Nagato) across 17 melodramatic years of longing. This classically moving tale is imbued with additional force by Yoshida’s masterful visual sense, deftly filming the interiors and landscapes of Okayama with an uncommon specificity of place and quintessential big-screen sensuality. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Sunday, December 3 at 1:00pm
Thursday, December 7 at 1:00pm

18 Who Cause a Storm
Kijū Yoshida, 1963, Japan, 35mm, 113m
Japanese with English subtitles
A group of migrant workers fed up with their being ruthlessly exploited by the society around them lash out in Yoshida’s rugged widescreen chronicle of proletarian unrest. When a shipyard worker arrives at his new seaside company lodging in the town of Kure (located in Hiroshima, still marked by the scars of the American atom bomb), he finds himself looking after the titular 18 younger workers, whose disaffection and unruliness he initially finds offputting, only to eventually come to care for them deeply. 18 Who Cause a Storm boasts one of the richest and most complex mise-en-scènes in all of Yoshida’s work, conveying a smothering sense of claustrophobia and alienation, but it also marked the beginning of the dissolution of Yoshida’s relationship with Shochiku, setting into motion his eventual break with the Japanese studio system. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Sunday, December 3 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, December 6 at 3:15pm (Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center)

A Story Written with Water
Kijū Yoshida, 1965, Japan, 35mm, 101m
Japanese with English subtitles
Bearing a title inspired by John Keats’ epitaph and taken from the Yōjirō Ishizaka novel it adapts, Yoshida’s first independent film is a startling affair, depicting the unbreakable love of mother and child. On the eve of his marriage, young Shizuo finds himself torn between his fiancée and the single mother who raised him. Having led a sacrificial life, laying aside personal happiness for her beloved son, Shizuo’s radiant mother (Mariko Okada) suffers silently, as the entanglement of unspoken dreams and desires floods in. Led by its striking visual language that frames Okada’s otherworldly beauty in veiled compositions, Yoshida’s abstracted josei eiga speaks to the pains of womanhood and the relinquishment of umbilical bonds—an exploration of the forgotten lives of women lived under the phantom of Japan’s imperial patriarchy.
Friday, December 8 at 6:00pm (Japan Society)

The Affair
Kijū Yoshida, 1967, Japan, 35mm, 97m
Japanese with English subtitles
Again using the melodrama genre as an instrument of oblique social critique, Yoshida’s ninth feature stars Mariko Okada as a woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a philandering businessman who finds herself mysteriously drawn toward an old lover of her deceased mother’s. She resented her mother’s own infidelities while she was alive but now, caught in an unfulfilling relationship of her own, she begins to see things differently…. A mesmerizing account of a woman’s reconnection with her long-suppressed desires and the resultant tension this causes, The Affair is one of Yoshida and Okada’s most forceful collaborations and ranks among Yoshida’s most visually precise works. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Saturday, December 2 at 6:00pm
Wednesday, December 6 at 1:00pm (Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center)

Flame and Women
Kijū Yoshida, 1967, Japan, 35mm, 101m
Japanese with English subtitles
Yoshida returned to the melodrama—this time synthesizing elements of the horror film in the process—with this chronicle of a woman’s suddenly swelling desire for her child’s biological father. Shingo (Isao Kimura) is unable to impregnate his wife Ritsuko (a brilliantly restrained Mariko Okada), so the couple turns to artificial insemination in order to have their child. The procedure is a success, but as time goes on, Ritsuko finds herself increasingly drawn toward the mystery man whose sperm allowed her to get pregnant. One of Yoshida’s most visually fragmentary works, Flame and Women takes on a decidedly unconventional subject and mesmerizingly renders it so as to tease out the enigmatic, subterranean currents of its protagonist’s predicament. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Tuesday, December 5 at 6:30pm

Affair in the Snow
Kijū Yoshida, 1967, Japan, 35mm, 97m
Japanese with English subtitles
A love triangle plays out in the snow in Yoshida’s 11th feature, a striking deconstruction of the melodrama. Yuriko (Mariko Okada) and a high school teacher, who’s also her lover, head out on vacation and arrive at a mountain resort, where Yuriko intends to end things between them. Circumstances lead her to contact an old boyfriend (Isao Kimura), and their reconnection heightens the emotional volatility of this already fraught trip. Reducing the cinematic melodrama to its essential elements and situating it among visually ravishing, snowy landscapes, Yoshida arrives at an engrossing meditation on the plight of the human heart that is quintessentially his. Print courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan.
Saturday, December 2 at 1:00pm

Farewell to the Summer Light
Kijū Yoshida, 1968, Japan, 35mm, 96m
English, Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese with English subtitles
A fascinating transitional film for Yoshida, Farewell to the Summer Light finds the restless iconoclast heading to Europe to tell the tale of an on-again-off-again romance between Naoko, a married expat who specializes in import-export (Mariko Okada), and Makoto (Tadashi Yokouchi), a Japanese scholar who is searching for a cathedral that served as the architectural inspiration for a church built in Nagasaki by Portuguese missionaries. Naoko’s family was itself a victim of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945, and her burgeoning affair with Makoto is haunted by the memory of that historic atrocity, but also by the ravages of global capitalism, with Yoshida taking a Godard-like interest in the aesthetic textures of a landscape littered with billboards and other forms of advertisement. A singular experiment rendered in bold color, Farewell to the Summer Light presages the uncompromisingly political and formally audacious films to come for Yoshida. Print courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan.
Thursday, December 7 at 6:30pm

Eros + Massacre
Kijū Yoshida, 1968, Japan, 35mm, 158m
Japanese with English subtitles
Among the greatest of all political films and perhaps the work that best embodies the spirit of Yoshida’s artistic project, Eros + Massacre is an epic, historiographic examination of the points of intersection between the domains of desire and politics. The film depicts the last days of anarcho-feminist writer Noe Ito (indelibly portrayed by Mariko Okada) and Sakae Ōsugi, her lover and a prominent anarchist theorist, shortly preceding their 1923 assassination by military police officers in what is known as the Amakasu Incident. Yoshida vividly traces the revolutionaries’ political, intellectual, and sexual development, but he also connects their lives to those of latter-day lovers in contemporary Tokyo, movingly locating a throughline between the political imagination of a bygone era and his own fraught present. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Friday, December 1 at 7:00pm
Monday, December 5 at 2:00pm

Heroic Purgatory
Kijū Yoshida, 1970, Japan, 35mm, 118m
Japanese with English subtitles
The second film in a trilogy (inaugurated by Eros + Massacre) concerning 20th-century Japanese history, Heroic Purgatory is a kaleidoscopic, mazelike memory piece that is perhaps Yoshida’s most recognizably avant-garde work. Its narrative follows an atomic engineer whose past as a college-age revolutionary militant erupts into the present when he arrives home from work to find that his wife has taken in a young girl who claims to be his daughter. His personal history fragmentarily flits into view, and Yoshida weaves from it a dense audiovisual tapestry, arriving at a challenging, mesmerizing film that visionarily engages the political complexities of postwar Japan. Print courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan.
Saturday, December 2 at 3:15pm

Confessions Among Actresses
Kijū Yoshida, 1971, Japan, 35mm, 119m
Japanese with English subtitles
Something like Yoshida’s response to Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Confessions Among Actresses finds Yoshida teaming up with three prominent Japanese actresses—Mariko Okada, Ruriko Asaoka, and Ineko Arima, each renowned for playing eminently modern women who have been wronged by the men around them—to craft a fragmentary, perpetually shapeshifting work on the relationship between performance and trauma. Confessional scenes marked by an air of documentary are interspersed with more conventionally staged moments, and, when combined with Yoshida’s radical sense of visual composition and jagged, deliberately conspicuous editing, this film conjures a dizzying swirl of disparate realities. Print courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan.
Thursday, December 7 at 8:45pm

Coup d’état
Kijū Yoshida, 1973, Japan, 16mm, 110m
Japanese with English subtitles
The culminating film in the trilogy formed by Eros + Massacre and Heroic Purgatory, Yoshida’s 16th feature is a spellbinding portrait of notorious militarist Ikki Kita, whose 1936 attempt at staging a coup against the Japanese government would later serve as inspiration to the similarly controversial nationalist writer Yukio Mishima some years later. The first of Yoshida’s features to forego a widescreen aspect ratio, Coup d’état finds him using the more claustrophobic visual format to his advantage, forging an indelible evocation of Ikki’s escalating paranoia in the lead-up to the coup attempt for which he would become infamous. Upon completing this film, Yoshida would declare his work in cinema finished, and would retire from making feature films for more than a decade. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Wednesday, December 6 at 6:30pm (Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center)

A Promise
Kijū Yoshida, 1986, Japan, 16mm, 119m
Japanese with English subtitles
Yoshida came out of his feature filmmaking retirement with this typically idiosyncratic meditation on what was, at the time, a taboo topic: euthanasia. A Promise examines the situation of the elderly as they try to hang onto a shred of their own dignity while awaiting the end of their lives. Rentarō Mikuni (who appeared in Yoshida’s earlier A Story Written with Water) stars as a dementia-afflicted widower who confesses to having killed his wife; Yoshida then takes us back, with immense restraint and profound moral sensitivity, to the events that lead up to her death, arriving at a devastating image of human mortality. Featuring music by Haruomi Hosono (of Yellow Magic Orchestra). Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Wednesday, December 6 at 8:45pm (Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center)
Friday, December 8 at 9:00pm (Japan Society)

Wuthering Heights
Kijū Yoshida, 1988, Japan, 35mm, 144m
Japanese with English subtitles
Emily Brontë’s Gothic romance is transposed to feudal Japan for Yoshida’s powerfully stark, elemental take on the story. The lush English moors are replaced by a harsh mountain setting, almost lunar in its desolation. There, the wild-eyed orphan Onimaru (Yūsaku Matsuda, an imposingly physical “Heathcliff”) exacts cruel revenge on the Yamabe clan after family tradition forces him to separate from his lover, Kinu (Yūko Tanaka, an ethereal “Cathy”). Yoshida conjures a savage world of expressionistic landscapes, spurting blood, and demonic spirits for a retelling that approaches primeval horror.
Sunday, December 3 at 3:30pm
Thursday, December 7 at 3:30pm

Women in the Mirror
Kijū Yoshida, 2002, Japan, 35mm, 124m
Japanese with English subtitles
In his final fiction feature, Yoshida returned to an old subject in his work: the unfathomable trauma known by Japan due to the United States’ dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mariko Okada stars as one of three women who discover long-buried ties that might imply their interrelation, united by a shared memory of a destroyed Hiroshima. The women return to Hiroshima, and the film begins shifting its components around to comprise a mesmerizing and melancholic puzzlework with vast psychological and political implications. Although less formally adventurous than some of his other signature works, Women in the Mirror nevertheless marks a worthy and moving testament for one of Japan’s most fearless film artists. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Sunday, December 3 at 9:00pm

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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