Do you love Japanese film classics, anime or contemporary cinema stories? Do you miss Japan and want to see it at least on screen? Would you like to learn and discuss about Japanese culture and society? Join us for the new Japan Society Film Club where we will chat online about films and Japan in an informal atmosphere.
For the Film Club in May we invite you to watch the confronting and haunting film The Ballad of Narayama directed by Shohei Imamura in 1983.
The Ballad of Narayama (楢山節考, Narayama bushikō, 1983) explores the legendary practice of obasute, in which elderly people were carried to a mountain and abandoned to die when they reached a certain age. The film is set in the harsh environment of a mountain village in 19th-century Japan where Orin, a hard-working 69-year-old woman, starts to put her affairs in order before she is carried up Mount Narayama to die when she turns 70. Adapted from the homonymous book by Shichiro Fukazawa, the film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival in 1983.
Shohei Imamura (1926-2006) was one of the most recognised filmmakers in post-war Japanese cinema. After graduating from university, Imamura began his career as an assistant to Yasujirō Ozu at Shochiku Studios and then moved to Nikkatsu where he made his debut film, Stolen Desire in 1958. After a few light-hearted films, he went on to direct more controversial works such as Pigs and Battleships (1961), The Insect Woman (1963) and Unholy Desire (1964), becoming one of the leading figures of the so-called “Japanese New Wave”. In 1965, he founded Imamura Productions and directed independent features such as The Pornographers (1966) and The Profound Desire of the Gods (1968). He has also directed documentary films focusing on post-war Japanese history from the point of view of individual women such as History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (1970). He is the only Japanese director to have twice won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival - for The Ballad of Narayama and The Eel (1997).
Japan Society Film Club takes place on the first Wednesday of the month. We will recommend a film to watch in advance and meet online to discuss. Films are often available online for free, on DVD, online platforms or on BFI player which includes a special season on Japanese cinema. When possible, we will invite film experts to introduce and lead the discussion, but the event is open to all and we encourage participants to freely express their opinions and feelings about the films.
If you have any questions, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email email@example.com.