In this major season we spotlight Japanese filmmakers who have inspired admiration and fascination around the world
We have long carried a torch for Japanese film here at the BFI. Since the first BFI London Film Festival opened with Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood in 1957, we’ve played a vital role in bringing the cinema of this culturally rich nation to UK audiences through our festivals, seasons, theatrical distribution, books and video publishing. In this major season we spotlight filmmakers who have inspired admiration and fascination around the world. We begin our story with Akira Kurosawa, and over the coming months we’ll present films from the Golden Age, a focus on Yasujiro Ozu, new wave rebels, the visionary creations of anime, the netherworlds of J-horror, and so much more from archive rarities to contemporary works and cult classics.
This landmark season will take place on BFI Player from 11 May onwards, with new online collections released each month, and we expect to present it at BFI Southbank and cinemas nationwide later this year.
Animation & Artists Moving Image199583 minsDirector: Mamoru Oshii
Mamoru Oshii's beautifully animated and disturbingly prophetic anime classic about the hunt for a supreme hacker in a transhumanist dystopia.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2004100 minsDirector: Mamoru Oshii
Mamoru Oshii's stunning sequel to the 1995 anime classic explores issues around identity, existence and what exactly defines our humanity.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2006100 minsDirector: Mamoru Hosoda
Breathtaking, multi-award-winning feature about a girl with a special power… Makoto Konno's life changes after a brush with death, when she discovers a special power: the ability to jump backwards in time.
Science Fiction2009115 minsDirector: Mamoru Hosoda
A student sets in motion a series of events that could result in the earth colliding with the parallel world.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2013118 minsDirector: Mamoru Hosoda
Single mother Hana must bring up her wolf children away from the prying eyes of the neighbours in this stunning anime.
Crime197287 minsDirector: Shunya Ito
The iconic Meiko Kaji's career-defining turn as 'Scorpion', an unjustly imprisoned young woman who must escape to exact revenge upon the man who betrayed her.
Horror197788 minsDirector: Nobuhiko Obayashi
An unforgettable mixture of bubblegum teen melodrama and grisly phantasmagoria, Obayashi’s deranged fairy tale House is one of Japanese cinema’s wildest supernatural ventures and a truly startling debut feature.
Drama196994 minsDirector: Teruo Ishii
Teruo Ishii's landmark ‘ero-guro’ film tells three stories of moral sickness set during Japan’s prosperous Genroku era.
Crime196786 minsDirector: Atsushi Yamatoya
A hitman is hired to track down a kidnapped girl in this hallucinatory mix of erotica and yakuza violence.
Romance200565 minsDirector: Daisuke Gotô
In this bizarre but bittersweet erotic comedy, a ventriloquist supplies the voice for his best friend when he begins dating a visually impaired girl. Daisuke Gotô
Action and Adventure2014116 minsDirector: Sion Sono
Sion Sono's unique brand of subversive cinema explodes onscreen once again with this ingenious hybrid of Yakuza gang action and hip-hop musical.
Drama1985154 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.
Drama1954207 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.
Drama1952143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Takashi Shimura is superb as a bureaucrat diagnosed with cancer in Akira Kurosawa’s lyrical and moving film about how we find meaning in our lives.
Drama1970140 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s first colour film is an eccentric and joyous account of a group of disparate people living in a city dump.
Crime1960151 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
The first film made by Akira Kurosawa's own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.
Crime195088 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.
Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
Drama1952116 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu’s beautiful domestic drama is piercing portrait of a marriage coming quietly undone in post-war Tokyo.
Drama1960128 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Comedy turns to pathos in Yasujiro Ozu's tale of a group of businessmen who conspire to match-make for a widow and her daughter.
Comedy1958118 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Ozu's deft comedy takes an ironic look at the decline of paternal authority.
Drama1956145 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
Shoji (Ryu Ikebe) and his wife Masako (Chikage Awashima), struggle with a family tragedy. When Shoji's interest turns to the office flirt, the couple's fragile peace is threatened.
Drama1941105 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
After the death of her husband, Mrs Toda and her youngest daughter receive a frosty welcome from extended family, in Ozu's incisive satire.
Drama195389 minsDirector: Teinosuke Kinugasa
Teinosuke Kinugasa’s sumptuous period drama astonished audiences with its dramatic force and spectacular colour cinematography.
Period drama1963114 minsDirector: Kon Ichikawa
Kon Ichikawa's wildly melodramatic tale of a kabuki female impersonator who exacts a long-delayed revenge.
Drama1998119 minsDirector: Hirokazu Koreeda
Koreeda's lyrical fantasy challenges the viewer to reflect on the experiences that most make life worth living.
Drama196097 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima
Nagisa Ôshima’s breakthrough portrait of alienated youth is a stinging castigation of an indolent, self-indulgent youth culture.
Crime196392 minsDirector: Seijun Suzuki
A mysterious loner plays off rival gangs against one another in Seijun Suzuki's outrageous, kaliedoscopic crime picture.
Drama1955123 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse
Mikio Naruse’s masterpiece about a wandering woman trying to find her identity amid the devastation of post-war Japan.
A selection of anime to excite enthusiasts and open the door to the uninitiated.
Charting the wilder extremes of Japanese cinema: twisted visions, deranged erotica, and badass women.
From the samurai thrillers of Kurosawa to the beautiful melodramas of Naruse, this collection celebrates the extraordinary diversity of Japanese cinema.