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When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Mikio Naruse’s best-known film is a masterful study of Ginza hostess struggling under constant pressures to compromise her honour.
1960 111 mins
Director: Mikio Naruse
The widowed Keiko (Hideko Tanake) manages a hostess bar in Tokyo’s Ginza district. She remains faithful to the memory of her husband and supports her mother, brother and his son. The smiling mask she wears allows her to make a living, but the pressure to sell herself is unrelenting. Her business is failing and she must decide whether to raise the money to buy her own bar or marry one of her admiring affluent patrons.
Mikio Naruse’s superb, heartrending film is a classic of post-war Japanese cinema.
Drama 1985 154 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.
Drama 1953 136 mins Director: Yasujiro Ozu
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Documentary 1996 52 mins Director: Nagisa Oshima
Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.
Documentary 1985 92 mins Director: Wim Wenders
Profiling one of the great directors of World Cinema, Wim Wenders delivers this moving portrait of Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu.
Documentary 2016 80 mins Director: Steven Okazaki
The on and off-screen character of Toshiro Mifune, Japan’s first international movie star, is explored in this illuminating documentary exploring the life and legacy of this mercurial icon.
Period drama 1954 125 mins Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Mizoguchi’s historical epic is among the greatest of all Japanese films, and a masterpiece of humanist cinema.
Featuring Hideko Takamine
Featuring Masayuki Mori
Romance 1953 97 mins Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi's haunting evocation of a feudal world where brutal realism intermingles with the supernatural.
Crime 1960 151 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
The first film made by Akira Kurosawa's own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.
Directed by Mikio Naruse
Drama 1954 101 mins Director: Mikio Naruse
The story of four ageing geishas as they struggle to make ends meet in post-war Japan, from acclaimed filmmaker Mikio Naruse.
Period drama 1964 85 mins Director: Karel Zeman
Karel Zeman's astonishing fantasy mixes live-action and animation to tell the adventures of a ploughman and a mercenery during the Thirty Years War.
Animation & Artists Moving Image 1961 85 mins Director: Karel Zeman
Karel Zeman’s wildly inventive and comic take on the surreal adventures of the bragging Baron explodes on to the screen in a riot of colour, visual wit and poetic verve.
Crime 1998 111 mins Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kiyoshi Kurosawa's a nerve-shredding thriller about the hunt for a serial killer in a bleak and decaying Tokyo.
Drama 2007 97 mins Director: Naomi Kawase
A beautiful and contemplative portrait of grief from Cannes-winning filmmaker Naomi Kawase (Sweet Bean, Still the Water).
Drama 2015 128 mins Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
The living and the dead coexist in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cannes-winning meditation on love and loss.
Drama 2016 120 mins Director: Koji Fukada
Kôji Fukada's mixture of slow-burn thriller and off-kilter family drama won Un Certain Regard Jury prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.