Kinuyo Tanaka: A Life in Film

Celebrating the actor who played an essential role in the history of Japanese cinema.

Contracted as a teen to Shōchiku studios in 1924, Kinuyo Tanaka flourished during the first golden age of Japanese cinema, acting for major directors including Yasujirô Ozu, Mikio Naruse and Kenji Mizoguchi. As Japan emerged from the destruction of the Second World War, societal roles for women radically shifted. Tanaka seized this opportunity, moving from superstar actor to directing commercial films.

Complementing our wider BFI Southbank season of her work, here we present this selection of Tanaka's essential collaborations with Japan's master filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu.


- Kristy Matheson, season programmer and Creative Director of Edinburgh International Film Festival

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Equinox FlowerEquinox Flower

Comedy1958118 minsDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

Ozu's deft comedy takes an ironic look at the decline of paternal authority.

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Woman of TokyoWoman of Tokyo

Melodrama193345 minsSilentDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

Chikako (Yoshiko Okada) works hard to pay her brothers Ryoichi’s (Ureo Egawa) college fees, but disaster looms when he learns the true nature of her work.

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Dragnet GirlDragnet Girl

Crime1933100 minsSilentDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

A seemingly ordinary typist moonlights as a fun-loving gangster's moll in one of Ozu's most enduring silent films.

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I Flunked, But…I Flunked, But…

Comedy193064 minsSilentDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

Takahashi finds a creative way to avoid doing his revision in Ozu's roguish comedy, reminiscent of Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman.

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Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?

Comedy193286 minsSilentDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

Ozu’s long-term collaborator Kogo Noda scripts a subtle shift from light to dark as Hirano’s carefree college life is marred by tragedy.

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A Hen in the WindA Hen in the Wind

Drama194884 minsDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

In a Japan recently devastated by World War II a devoted, near-destitute mother turns to prostitution to pay medical bills when her son falls dangerously ill.