HOME’s film picks for Japan 2020 season

In a major new season the BFI shines a light on Japanese filmmakers who have inspired admiration and fascination around the world.

Below HOME’s own film team choose their recommendations from the season. You can also watch all films on the BFI Player here.

Late Chrysanthemums 

Jason Wood, HOME’s Artistic Director: Film says:

“An adaptation of three stories by Fumiko Hayashi, Mikio Naruse’s tale of three ageing geisha’s is a bleak but poignant portrait of friendship and kin. Haruko Sugimura Ken Uehara both offer exceptional performances.”

Woman in the Dunes 

Jason’s second choice is Woman in the Dunes:

Garnering Teshigahara an Academy Award nomination as Best Director, Woman in the Dunes presents a nightmarish battle of the sexes. An international success, the film remains both unnerving and erotic.”

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs 

Andy Willis, HOME’s Senior Visiting Curator, and Professor of Film Studies at the University of Salford, says:

“Keiko, a young widow, is a bar hostess at an establishment that caters for businessmen unwinding after work. Not wanting to re-marry, she decides to try and open her own bar. Director Mikio Naruse uses her struggles in a male-dominated world and the setting of a contemporary Tokyo negotiating change to explore the social situations that many women found themselves in as Japan transitioned to a more modern society. A moving and meticulously made film, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs offers a fascinating counterpoint to some of the more well-known Japanese films of the era.”

I Live in Fear

Andy’s final choice is I Live in Fear:

“Paranoia pervades throughout this lesser known title from director Kurosawa’s peak period of the 1950s. The director’s favourite actor, Toshiro Mifune, plays an aging factory owner who becomes increasingly concerned that Japan will suffer the effects of the fallout of a nuclear attack. To protect them he begins to plan for his family to escape to Brazil. However, unconvinced by his anxiety they seek legal assistance to rule him incompetent. A gripping mediation on what constitutes insanity in a world that has developed insane methods of destruction.”

Watch all the films mentioned above on the BFI Player here.

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