Japanese Film Series

The Yale University Council on East Asian Studies will sponsor a series of landmark films by Japanese directors Yasujiro Ozu and Juzo Itami. The movies will be screened in Japanese with English subtitles on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street. All events are free and open to the public.

Ozu will be represented by work that spans three decades. On January 23, the series opens with “A Story of Floating Weeds”, 1934, considered Ozu’s finest silent feature. Before the screening, a panel will discuss Ozu’s work at 6 p.m. Panelists include Peter Grilli, executive director of the Donald Keene Center for Japanese cultural studies at Columbia University; Miryam Sas, assistant professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature at Harvard University; and Xinmin Liu, Yale graduate student and scholar of Asian cinema.

Other Ozu films in the series will be “Late Spring”, 1949, on January 30; “Tokyo Story”, 1953, on February 6; “Early Spring”, 1956, on February 13; and Ozu’s last movie, completed the year before his death, “An Autumn Afternoon”, 1962, on February 20.

Once considered the most Japanese of Japanese directors, Ozu has acquired a worldwide reputation for his delicate portraits of people whose ties to each other and to their families become increasingly fragile as modern influences overtake them. His purity of vision has been likened to Zen; his immediacy, elegance, and sensitivity, to Haiku.

The second half of the series will feature films by Juzo Itami, beginning March 27 with “The Funeral”, 1984. Called “a robust comedy…a moving, wonderfully rich picture” by N.Y. Times film critic Vincent Canby, “The Funeral” was Itami’s directorial debut–and a smash hit in Japan. In each of his works, Itami fleshes out characters who are simultaneously realistic and ridiculous. His gentle satire pokes fun at the conventions of society with wit and intelligence.

Prior to showing “The Funeral,” a panel of experts will discuss Itami’s work at 6 p.m. Panelists will be Carole Cavanaugh, assistant professor of Japanese at Middlebury College; Kyoko Hirano, director of the Film Program at the Japan Society of New York and author of several books on Japanese cinema; and Xinmin Liu.

Other Itami films in the series will be “Tampopo”, 1986 on April 3; “A Taxing Woman”, 1987 on April 10; “A Taxing Woman’s Return”, 1988 on April 17; and “The Family Game”, 1984, with Yoshimitsu Morita on April 24.

For further information, contact the Council on East Asian Studies at 203/432-3426.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325