CJS sponsored films at HIFF

The Center for Japanese Studies is sponsoring two groups of film showings at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival.

A TRIBUTE TO MADAME KAWAKITA (co-sponsored by UH’s National Resource Center-East Asia).  The screenings of these four films are free to the public.  However, tickets must be ordered through the HIFF Box Office to guarantee a seat.  See HIFF website for information on how to obtain tickets either online or in person at the box office.

1. RASHOMON (1950), Directed by Akira Kurosawa  October 16 (Friday) at 7 pm at Dole

Based on two stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this landmark film is an exploration of truth and human weakness.  A priest, a woodcutter, and a peasant take refuge from a downpour beneath a ruined gate in 12-century Japan.  The  priest and the woodcutter, each looking stricken, discuss the trial of a notorious bandit for rape and murder.  As the retelling of the trial unfolds, the participants in the crime–the bandit, the rape victim,and the murdered man–tell their plausible though completely contradictory versions of the story.  Rashomon is considered one of Kurosawa’s masterpieces.  Introduction and after-film discussion lead by the film critic, Ms. Kyoko Hirano.

2. TO LIVE/IKIRU (1952), Directed by Akira Kurosawa  October 17 (Saturday) at 5:45 pm at Dole

IKIRU details the struggle of one ordinary man in his desperate search for purpose.  Upon learning he has terminal stomach cancer, a government bureaucrat temporarily goes on a pleasure spree only to find that these experiences do not fill a lifetime void.  Returning to the office, he finds his life work in building a community park.  IKIRU is considered one of Kurosawa’s greatest achievements.   Introduction and after-film discussion lead by Ms.Kyoko Hirano.

3.  BLACK RAIN/KUROI AME (1989), Directed by Shohei Imamura  October 18 (Sunday) at 2:45 pm at Dole

Based on the novel BLACK RAIN by Masuji Ibuse, the film follows the life of the Tanaka family who lived in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped.  The title refers to the radioactive fall out (or black rain) that fell on the city after the bombing.  Introduction and after-film discussion lead by Ms. Kyoko Hirano.

4. ZIGEUNERWEISEN (1980), Directed by Seijun Suzuki  October 18 (Sunday) at 6 pm at Dole

While on vacation, a professor of German encounters his childhood friend who has turned into a drifter down on his luck.  Both men fall in love with a geisha, and though they go on to marry other women, their passions for this woman grow into all-consuming obsession.  Suzuki’s film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the 1981 Japanese Academy Awards, and is the first in his Taisho Trilogy.  Introduction by Dr. Victor Kobayashi, UHM Professor Emeritus, and after-film discussion lead by Dr. Kobayashi and Dr. John Szostak, UHM Art History Professor.

Conversation about Madame Kawakita’s influence on cinema with Kyoko Hirano, Oct. 17 (Saturday) at 3:30 pm at Dole.  Free and open to the public.

It was Madame Kawakita who carried the film prints of Ozu and Kurosawa under her arm to far away places such as Venice, Cannes and Montreal, insisting that  the important film festivals of the world take seriously the cinema art of Japan.  She knew that film could promote cultural understanding, and she gave her life to that mission.  She would  be 100 years old this year, and we salute Madame Kawakita’s memory by the screening of four of the hundreds of films she championed and introduced to the West.


SPOTLIGHT ON OKINAWA (presented by WUB and the Center for Japanese Studies)  Tickets for the following three films are $10 general admission.  Please see the HIFF website for ticket information.

1.  A MIDSUMMER’S OKINAWAN DREAM 2009 Directed by Yuji Nakae.  Two showings on Oct. 18 (Sun.) at 12:30 pm & Oct. 21 (Wed.) at 3 pm at Dole

The film loosely transplants Shakespeare’s comedy classic to a rural tropical island in Okinawa.  In this modern film, the fun and familiar tale of supernatural fairies interfering in the loves of mortals gets a cultural retelling, complete with sanshin playing tree spirits called Kijimun and a traditional shisa lion dance.  This film also provides the audience with the rare treat of hearing uchina-guchi (Okinawan language) spoken by the elder Kijimun and residents of the island.

2.  COBALT BLUE (2009), Directed by Yosuke Nakagawa.  Two showings on Oct. 23 (Fri.) at 8:15 pm & Oct. 24 (Sat.) at 8 pm at Dole

The film takes us through the silent passions harbored by two generations of a small fishing community in a remote island of Okinawa.

3.   TEARS FOR YOU/NADA SOU SOU (2006), Directed by Nobuhiro Doi.  Two showings on Oct. 24 (Sat.) at 10:15 am & Oct. 25 (Sun.) at 11 am at Dole.

The film tells the story of the Shingaki siblings.  Left to fend for themselves at a young age as their father had abandoned them and their mother left for the heavens, these two half-siblings have only each other.  The brother takes on the role of surrogate father in looking after his sister, and he works different jobs to pay for her education.

Have fun at HIFF!