Whose Film Is It Anyway? Contemporary Japanese Auteurs

10 February – 28 March 2012 : 7 venues in 7 cities in the UK

Following last year‟s successful Back To the Future: Japanese Cinema since the mid-90s season, this year‟s Japan Foundation touring film programme looks at narrative creativity in Japanese cinema, showcasing directors both young and emerging, such as Miwa Nishikawa and Takatsugu Naito, and the more established, such as Masayuki Suo (the director best-known for Shall We Dance).

In recent years, Japanese cinema has been dominated by generic spin offs of media such as TV shows and manga, to generate an audience based on a pre-existing market. The nine films that have been chosen for this season however clearly demonstrate in fact the wealth of original writing and creativity evident in recent Japanese cinema.

Having successfully forged and retained their own identities within what is one of the largest film markets in the world, these directors reject the “safe” formulaic film model and instead choose to pursue their own methods of expressing themselves through film. Audiences will be able to hear the individual directors‟ voices, whilst also being exposed to characteristics and techniques of some of the best examples of auteur directors from Japan.

The film season is produced and organised by The Japan Foundation, and supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Programme:

The Dark Harbour (Futoko) When recording a video message for a matchmaking party, solitary fisherman Manzo makes an unusual discovery. Dir: Takatsugu Naito, 2009, 101 mins, English subtitles

Dear Doctor

A young medical graduate opts for a job in a remote mountain village, where everything is not as it seems.

Dir: Miwa Nishikawa, 2009, 127 mins, English subtitles

I Just Didn’t Do It (Soredemo Boku Wa Yattenai) The story of a young man accused of groping a woman on a crowded Tokyo train, and his battle with the Japanese legal system. Dir: Masayuki Suo, 2007, 143 mins, English subtitles

About Her Brother (Ototo) Depiction of a complex relationship between a black sheep of a brother and his long-suffering sister. Dir: Yoji Yamada, 2010, 126 mins, English subtitles

A Stranger of Mine (Unmei Janai Hito) In one long Friday evening, Takeshi Miyata, a straight-arrow businessman, will encounter a number of people who have intertwining fates. Dir: Kenji Uchida, 2005, 98 mins, English subtitles

Sleep (Nemuri Yusurika) The desperate story of a family who have sacrificed everything to bring to account the rapist who changed all their lives. Dir: Katsumi Sakaguchi, 2011, 96 mins, English subtitles

All Around Us (Gururi No Koto) The journey of a married couple after a miscarriage, and how they each begin to come to terms with its reality. Dir: Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2008, 140 mins, English subtitles

Bad Company (Mabudachi) Teenager Sadamoto is torn between a desire to please his father and a need to rebel against him, as his middle school teacher Dir: Tomoyuki Furumaya, 2001, 98 mins, English subtitles

Heart, Beating In The Dark (Yamiutsu Shinzo) A multi-layered work, this film is half-sequel half-remake, and is the story of a couple on the run after killing their baby. Dir: Shunichi Nagasaki, 2005, 104 mins, English subtitles

For more information click here.


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A Japanese Play Reading in English: Getting Lost

24 November 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House
10-12 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5EH

Japanese contemporary performance has been plunged into a very interesting and exciting phase, breeding many different styles from the younger generation who are quite often free from existing codes. The Japan Foundation once again looks at a leading example of a Japanese contemporary play by award-winning playwright Shiro Maeda, who is believed to have been instrumental in leading performing arts in Japan into a new phase. This play reading of Getting Lost will offer to a UK audience the first chance to experience, in English, this piece of very recent high-calibre Japanese theatre.

The Play
Michiru Suzuki is 30, and struggling: with Tokyo, with her parents, her sister, her ex and current boyfriend, and with her unborn child. The play involves these characters, in situations both real and conceived, exploring contemporary Tokyo and its society. One day, unsure about where she is going in her disorientated life, she turns to her sister who was never born, to consult…
At turns surreal, irreverent, and darkly comic, Maeda explores that contemporary malaise: being ‘lost’ in the metropolis. Running initially in the Mini Theatre at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, the play was received with great appreciation by audiences and critics alike in Japan, being performed a total of 15 times to more than 2100 people.

The Playwright
Born in Tokyo in 1977, writer, director and actor Shiro Maeda has engaged as a director and/or actor in more than 40 productions since forming the theatre company GOTANNDADAN in 1997. Winning the 52nd Kishida Drama Award for his script Isn’t Anyone Alive? (2007), he achieved further success with his highly recognised work Suteru Tabi(2008), which was performed both in Japan and abroad. The playwright’s acclaimed career took a new journey with his production Getting Lost (2010), which offered the audience a striking new perspective.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.

Women Work in Wood (WoWoWo)

Women Work – in Wood is a touring celebration and showcase of leading female contemporary furniture designers and makers, working in wood, and will include work from London-based Tomoko Azumi, and Denmark-based Akiko Kuwahata, as well as various other international, established and emerging designer makers, who  have all responded to a design brief to develop and encourage innovative design in furniture using sustainable processes and materials.

The design development has in each case been documented to illuminate the decisions regarding techniques and process.  These narratives, as well as the more personal deliberations to do with career paths, will form part of the exhibition showing the richness of skill and approach and add to the debate about design, responsibility, opportunity, expectation and so forth.

The number of women furniture makers is on a steady increase in Europe and particularly the UK. This exhibition is the first dedicated showcase of contemporary work by woman designer makers.

24 September 2011 – 30 October 2011

Walford Mill Crafts, Dorset

For more information, please click here.

Art Weapons: Artist Talk by Tsuyoshi Ozawa

Tsuyoshi Ozawa is an intriguing Japan-grown contemporary artist. His works challenge the establishment and people’s existing systems, as well as perceptions about their daily lives. Yet Ozawa also approaches these issues with both gentle humour and clever irony, quite often throwing his viewers, with great relish, into a maze of the actual and the virtual: for example in works such as his Museum of Soy Sauce Art, a parodic look at Japanese art history, or his long running Vegetable Weapons project. Despite a conventional education at art university in Japan, where he studied painting, Ozawa, from the start of his artistic career, has always resisted creating his work in an isolated environment. He frequently collaborates with other artists, and often draws on audience participation, using his work as a kind of “art weapon” for opening dialogue.

In this artist talk, Tsuyoshi Ozawa will reveal to the UK audience for the first time the unique artistic path he has walked over the past decades, explaining the creative process behind many of his compelling works. In a discussion to follow, he will be joined by Adrian Favell, Professor of Sociology in Paris and a writer on Japanese contemporary art, to further examine Ozawa’s relation to contemporary Japanese society, his significance in a global context, and issues of “relational art” in his work, part of an important trend in contemporary art practice.

20 September 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square
London WC1B 5EH

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.

Atsuko Tanaka and Japanese Women Artists in the Context of Conceptualism 1950 – 2010

Atsuko Tanaka was one of the foremost members of Gutai, a group which focussed on experimental art forms, their manifesto proclaiming a new relationship between the materials and the human spirit. Within this primarily male-orientated group, Tanaka was particularly unconventional and stood out from the other Gutai members, as indeed she did from other international avant-garde artists of her time. This was due not only to her radical and metaphorical expression, but also the relationship between the body of work created especially between 1953 and 1957, and her way of thinking.

In celebration of the exhibition, Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting, the Japan Foundation has invited Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT) and exhibition curatorial team member Yuko Hasegawa, to discuss Japanese female artists and creatives from the 1950s to the present day, in the context of conceptualism. Going beyond Atsuko Tanaka, artists featured in her talk will also include Hideko Fukushima, a member of Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) in the 1950s, Yoko Ono and Yayoi Kusama, both of whom are internationally recognised artists. Hasegawa will examine how the psychological deconstruction of images of women, both within social convention and common roles, function in the work of Tabaimo and Miwa Yanagi.  She will also explore the achievements ofKazuyo Sejima and Rei Kawakubo, some of Japan’s most influential creative minds.

By tracing conceptualism in Japan, and the significance of these various artists within a post-war framework, Hasegawa will explore the unique politics of Japanese female artists who were, and indeed are, conscious about the relationship between their work and body.

9 September 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square
London WC1B 5EH

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.

 

Atsuko Tanaka The Art of Connecting

Atsuko Tanaka The Art of Connecting.

27 July 2011 from 6.30pm

Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005) is without doubt one of Japan’s most important avant-garde artists. As a former member of the Gutai artist group which was founded in 1954, Tanaka has challenged the conventional notions of art through her powerful works including the iconic “Electric Dress”. Whether it be in paintings, sculpture, electric sound and light installations, or performance pieces, a commonality to Tanaka’s work is a distinct realism closely corresponding to her choice of materials.

In conjunction with, and celebration of, the UK’s first comprehensive exhibition of Atsuko Tanaka at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, the Japan Foundation has invited two of the exhibition’s curators, Mizuho Kato, Visiting Associate Professor, Museum of Osaka University and former Chief Curator of Ashiya City Museum of Art and History in Japan, and Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon Gallery, to introduce the life and work of Atsuko Tanaka. As well as discussing the significance of the exhibition which covers the breadth of Tanaka’s career from her earliest works up to paintings completed just before her death, they will also highlight Tanaka’s achievements and their continued relevance to our contemporary visual world.

The Japan Foundation, London

Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square
London WC1B 5EH

Booking: This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.