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Japanese Film Festival 2003

What In our line-up this year, we have selected a variety of contemporary as well as classic titles that represent the best of Japanese Cinema.
When 26 September 2003 (Friday) - 5 October 2003 (Sunday)
Where GV Marina and The Japanse Association Auditorium

26th September ­ 28 September: GV Marina Square
Tickets at S$9.50 per session available from 11th September at the GV Marina Square box-office, on-line at, and at AXS stations islandwide. SFS members may purchase tickets at S$7.50 per session on production of a valid SFS membership card only at the GV Marina Square box-office (one discounted ticket per member per session)

29th September ­ 5 October: The Japanse Association Auditorium
Admission is Free


Message from the Organisers

The Year 2003 is a commemorative year.  It is designated by the governments of Japan and the group of ASEAN countries as the ASEAN- Japan Exchange Year.  It is particularly so for Japanese Cinema since this year marks the centennial anniversary of the birth of Ozu Yasujiro, the great Japanese film directors.

Over a period of 10 days in the months of September and October, the Embassy of Japan (Singapore), the Japanese Association,(Singapore) and Singapore Film Society, with the support of Japan Foundation, present the Japanese Film Festival.

In our line-up this year, we have selected a variety of contemporary as well as classic titles that represent the best of Japanese Cinema.  Among our contemporary offerings, we are featuring two films by the late Fukasaku Kinji ("BATTLE ROYALE, PART I & II) who passed away early this year.

As a centenary tribute to Ozu, we have scheduled 6 of his films in our classic segment, plus a documentary by Wim Wenders, making up a retrospective package which will be screened at the Japanese Association Auditorium.

In previous years, our Japanese Film Festival mostly featured films in 16mm format.  For this year's festival, we have films in both16mm and 35mm formats.  By adopting a hybrid model, we hope to bring greater variety in our selection that offers film lovers in Singapore a true feast of sights and sounds.

The assistance of the following organizations in supplying films is gratefully acknowledged:

Japan Foundation
Goethe Institut, Singapore
The Klockworx Co.
Overseas Movie
Golden Village Pictures


Fri     26 Sept
7pm     GV Marina       Lovers Lost     R(A)
9.30pm  GV Marina       The Geisha House        R(A)

Sat     27 Sept
4.30pm  GV Marina       Millennium Actress      PG
7pm     GV Marina       Moonlight Whisper       R(A)
9.30pm  GV Marina       The Geisha House        R(A)

Sun     28 Sept
2pm     GV Marina       Twilight Samurai        PG
4.30pm  GV Marina       Lovers Lost     R(A)
7pm     GV Marina       Millennium Actress      PG
9.30pm  GV Marina       Moonlight Whisper       R(A)

Mon     29 Sept
7pm     JAA     Equinox Flower  PG
9.30pm  JAA     I Was Born But... PG

Tue     30 Sept
7pm     JAA     An Autumn Afternoon     PG
9.30pm  JAA     The End Of Summer       PG

Wed     1 Oct
7pm     JAA     Late Spring     PG
9.30pm  JAA     Tokyo Ga        PG

Thu     2 Oct
7pm     JAA     Amateur Singing Contest PG
9.30pm  JAA     I Was Born but... PG

Fri     3 Oct
7pm     JAA     Equinox Flower  PG
9.30pm  JAA     The End Of Summer       PG

Sat     4 Oct
11am    JAA     Late Spring     PG
2pm     JAA     Tokyo Story     PG
7pm     JAA     Anateur Singing Contest PG

Sun     5 Oct
11am    JAA     Tokyo Ga        PG
2pm     JAA     Tokyo Story     PG
7pm     JAA     An Autumn Afternoon     PG

JAA == Japanese Association Auditorium
120 Adam Road
Singapore 289899

Ticketing Information:
Screenings at GV Marina S$9.50 (non-SFS members)
                                S$7.50* (SFS members)
Screenings at JAA               Free Admission - queue numbers will
be issued **

*- SFS members may purchase tickets at S$7.50 per session on production of a valid SFS membership card only at the GV Marina Square box-office (one discounted ticket per member per session)

**-     Queue numbers for current day sessions only, are available on a first-come, first-served basis, from 6pm on weekdays and fom 10am on weekends, at the SFS counter outside the auditorium.

Films rated R(A) are restricted to persons aged 21 and above. Films rated NC-16 are restricted to persons aged 16 and above. Proof of age is required at the point of purchase and at the point of admission.

Food and drink cannot be brought into GV cinema unless purchased from the Golden Village candy bar.

Films in SFS festivals are generally uncut and in original dialogue with English subtitles. Certain circumstances beyond the control of SFS and our co-organizing partners may occasionally necessitate deviations from these standards.

SFS and Golden Village reserve the right to change the programme and to refuse admission. In such circumstances, refunds may be offered at the discretion of SFS and Golden Village.


Japanese Film Screenings @ GV Marina


TWILIGHT SAMURAI [Tasogare Seibei]

2002, 129 minutes, colour
Directed by: Yamada Yoji
Main Cast: Sanada Hiryuki, Miyazawa Rie, Kobayashi Nenji, Tanaka Min, Osugi Ren

Seibei is a low-ranking samurai. His wife died years ago and he and his two daughters, Kayano and Ito, live an impoverished existence. Soon Seibei is given orders to slay a Samurai name Yogo, who has broken away from the Samurai way. Yogo believes that the days of the Samurai are numbered; western influences have changed the world, he proclaims, and Samurais are merely relicts of a bygone era. As they meet, Yogo begins to tell Seibei about his life...

* Japanese Academy Awards 2003: nominated for 14 awards and won 12 including best picture, director, actor and actress
* Berlin Film Festival 2003: nominated for Golden Bear Award

Web link:

MOONLIGHT WHISPER [Gekko no Sasayaki]

1999, 100 minutes, colour
Directed by: Shiota Akihiko
Main Cast: Mizuhashi Kenji, Tsugumi, Kusano Kouta, Inoue Harumi

Takuya and Satsuki belong to the Kendo Club at their high school. They look like an ordinary teenaged couple. But Takuya's love for Satsuki is actually quite unusual - even fetishistic, as Satsuki will find out...

Based on a manga by Kikuni Masahiko, Shiota Akihiko's remarkable debut feature is a beautifully crafted and darkly comic exploration of innocence and perversity.

* nominated for Golden Leopard, Locarno International Film Festival, 1999

Web link:


2001, 87 minutes, Animation
Directed by: Kon Satoshi
Main Cast: Shoji Miyoko, Koyama Mami, Orikasa Fumiko, Iizuka Shouzou

Latest anime directed by Kon Satoshi (PERFECT BLUE).  Genya is asked to direct a documentary commemorating 70th anniversary of a film studio.  He chooses as subject the legendary actress Chiyoko, a superstar actress who 30 years earlier chose to end her career and disappear from public life.  As he begins, Genya is becoming obsessed with the fallen star, and her secret past...

Millennium Actress is a compelling romance/adventure where fantasy and reality fuse together.

Web link:

Focus on Fukasaku Kinji

Fukasaku Kinji (1930-2003)

Born in 1930 in Mito, Fukasaku Kinji was the youngest son of a landlord family.  He graduated from the Film Department of Nippon University and enrolled into Tohei Co. in 1953, but was not able to direct his own film until 1961.  Along side with Yamada Yoji and Oshima Nagisa, Fukasaku is regarded as the 2nd Generation director that emerged after WWII

In Japan, Fukasaku is most famous for the gangster series he made in the early seventies, BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR OR HUMANITY (a.k.a. YAKUZA PAPERS).  The first installment of the series appeared in 1973.  Fukasaku basically employed the style of a champara (swordplay) film to depict the underworld society and compares the brutality and ruthlessness of the modern day's yakuza to the degeneration of the samurai's code of ethics in the feudal period. The film was an immediate hit and a total of four sequels and a follow-up were made within two years.  Fukasaku made eight more films along similar style before he had another big success with SHOGUN SAMURAI in 1978.

A versatile filmmaker excelled in almost all genres (sci-fi, war, melodrama, comedy, action), Fukasaku hits the jackpot again with the controversial BATTLE ROYALE in 2000.  The film has already been hailed as the new cult classic of Fukasaku.

In September 2002, Fukasaku began shooting BATTLE ROYALE 2, as he announced doctor's diagnosis of prostate cancer.  Before the film was completed, Fukasaku passed away on 12 January 2003.  His son, Fukasaku Kenta, took over the directorship and completed the film
which was subsequently released domestically in July 2003

Web link:

LOVERS LOST [Dotonborigawa]

1982, 123 minutes, colour
Main Cast: Matsuzaka Keiko, Sanada Hiroyuki, Yamazaki Tsutomu, Sato
Koichi, Kaga Mariko, Watase Tsunehiko

LOVERS LOST tells the poignant love story between a 29-year-old woman, mistress of a wealthy jewelry merchant, and a 19-year-old college student. The film, adapted from the last installment of The River Trilogy by popular contemporary novelist Miyamoto Teru who also wrote the acclaimed "Muddy River", surprised many as a sensitive portrayal of a woman's affections and sensibilities.


1998, 113 minutes, colour
Main Cast: Fuji Junko, Kitajima Mai, Minami Kaho, Miyamoto Maki, Nogawa Yumiko, Okada Mariko, Tsugawa Masahiko

Japan: 1958. The Japanese Government has just passed the Anti- Prostitution Act.  Tokiko, has been working in the Fujinoya Geisha House, as a chambermaid for the past four years.  She has dreamt of transforming herself into a Geisha to help her poor family, and now her time has come...

Far from the martial survivalism of BATTLE ROYALE, the film Fukasaku made after this one, THE GEISHA HOUSE is more subtle fare, which deliberately pays court to nostalgia as well as evoking some of the concerns of no lesser forebear than Mizoguchi Kenji.

* Asia-Pacific Film Festival: Best Supporting Actress (Fuji Junko)
* Tokyo Film Festival: Best Actress (Miyamoto Maki)
* Japanese Academy Awards: Nominated for 6 awards including Best Director

Screenings at Japan Association


1999 112 minutes, colour
Main Cast: Muroi Shigeru, Otomo Kohei, Bitoh Isao, Ito Ayumi, Matsuda Miyuki, Takenaka Naoto

"Some people laugh, and some people cry, until their grand occasion to make their first appearance on stage." Out of 4,000 applicants, only 250 will make it to the preliminary round, out of which just 20 will be chosen for the Sunday final. The famous TV singing contest, "Nodo-Jiman", is coming to town! Enka singer Reiko Akagi enters the contest despite objection from her manager. Aspiring mobile yakitori shop owner Keisuke finds that his license examination clashes with the preliminary round. Schoolgirl Rika Takahashi is caught between her worried mother and her rebellious sister. "Nodo- Jiman" brings these colorful people together in a heartwarming way.

* Nominated for Best Actress, Japanese Academy Award 2000

A commemoration of Ozu Yasujiro's 100th birthday and 40th anniversary of death.

Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963)

Ozu Yasujiro was born in the old Fukagawa district of Tokyo, to a fertilizer merchant, in 1903. In 1923, he was hired as assistant cameraman at the Shochiku Motion Picture Company. Early in his career, Ozu began to experiment with an idiosyncratic film style that ran contrary to the conventions of Japanese or Hollywood cinema of the day. He strove to reduce and simplify his film style by casting away such mainstays as the fade, the dissolve, and the pan from his cinematic palette. Shooting primarily from a low camera angle, using a 50mm lens, Ozu subordinated spatial continuity to visual aesthetics.

Ozu directed his first film, SWORD OF PENITENCE, in 1927. In 1932, he began to hit his creative stride with the touching comedy I WAS BORN, BUT..., which was his first commercial success and is considered to be one of his finest pre-World War II movies. It was also at this time that Ozu began to develop his signature film style. After the war, Ozu reached his creative peak and made some of his finest films, including LATE SPRING, FLOATING WEEDS, AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON, and his masterpiece TOKYO STORY, which is generally considered one of the greatest films ever made.

In sharp contrast with the muscular narratives of Kurosawa samurai epics, the films of Ozu are simple, contemplative, and edged with nostalgia and sadness. Through the course of his long career, Ozu refined and narrowed the scope of his films to the bare essentials. His oeuvre mostly confined to that of domestic dramas. His characters are ordinary people leading ordinary lives in the same quiet world.

Ozu has been widely touted as the most Japanese of Japanese film directors.  His quiet, transcendent vision of humanity has stood the test of time and has been an influence on such diverse directors as Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Yamada Yoji and Ichikawa Jun.

Ozu died of cancer on December 12, 1963, his 60-year-old birthday.

Web reference:

I WAS BORN, BUT ... [Umarete wa mita keredo]

1932, 100 minutes, b&w, silent
Main Cast: Sugawara Hideo, Aoki Tomio, Saito Tatsuo, Yoshikawa Mitsuko, Sakamoto Takeshi, Kato Seiichi

Two young brothers become the leaders of a gang of kids in their neighborhood. Their father is an office clerk who tries for advancement by playing up his boss. When the boys visit the boss' house with their father, they are disgusted by their dad's submission to his boss, who's son is an outwitted member of the boys' gang. Arguably the best silent film from Ozu, this charming film is a social satire that draws from the antics of childhood as well as the tragedy of maturity.


1949, 108 minutes, b&w
Main Cast: Aoki Hohi, Hara Setsuko, Mishima Masao, Miyake Kuniko, Ryu Chishu, Sugimura Haruko

Noriko, a single Japanese woman, is living a seemingly happy life caring for her widowed aging father. Social pressures, however, force family and friends to believe that Noriko can only be fulfilled by entering into marriage, although Noriko seems to have no interest in marriage herself. "LATE STPRING reveals a sincere concern for the plight of the common man, an affectionate celebration for the subtle beauty of everyday life, and a profound sympathy for the inevitable passage of time." - Acquarello, Strictly Film School

* 1949 Kinema Junpo (the most historical and prestigious Japanese film periodical) critics' poll: No. 1 among Top-10 Japanese films of the year

TOKYO STORY [Tokyo monogatari]

1953, 136 minutes, b&w
Main Cast: Ryu Chishu, Higashiyama Chieko, Hara Setsuko, Sugimura Haruko, Yamamura So, Miyake Kuniko, Kagawa Kyoko

An elderly couple journey to Tokyo to visit their children and are confronted by indifference, ingratitude and selfishness. When the parents are packed off to a resort by their impatient children, the film deepens into an unbearably moving meditation on mortality.  "No words can do justice to his story telling power, and he does it with such grace, reserve, etiquette and charm that it is impossible to believe you are watching a family ... . A stunning work from one of the greatest masters of all times." - Rajesh Balkrishnan

* 1953 Kinema Junpo critics' poll: No. 2 among Top-10 Japanese films of the year
* 1998 Kinema Junpo critics' poll: No. 2 among all-time Top-10 Japanese films
* 1958 British Film Society Awards: Sutherland Award * 1992 "Sight & Sound" international critics poll: No. 3 among all-time Top-10 films in the world
* 2002 "Sight & Sound" international critics poll: No. 5 among all-time Top-10 films in the world


1958, 120 minutes, colour
Main Cast: Saburi Shin, Tanaka Kinuyo, Nakamura Nobuo, Arima Ineko, Kuwano Miyuki, Ryu Chishu, Kuga Yushiko

A businessman is often approached by friends for advice and help regarding marriage as well as family and romantic relationships. He is always able to give great insight and assistance to these particular situations. However, when it comes time for him to be objective regarding his oldest daughter, he finds it very difficult...  "The first color feature film from Ozu Yasujiro, Equinox Flower is a spare, evocative, and compassionate portrait of aging, transition, and change ... an elegy for the quickly vanishing traditions of an irretrievable past, and a celebration of renewed hope and promise."  -- Acquarello, Strictly Film School

* 1958 Kinema Junpo critics' poll: No. 3 among Top-10 Japanese films of the year

THE END OF SUMMER [Kohayagawa-ke no aki]

1961, 103 minutes, colour
Main Cast: Nakamura Ganjiro, Hara Setsuko, Tsukasa Yoko, Aratama Michiyo, Kobayashi Keiju, Naniwa Chieko, Dan Reiko

The story revolves around Kohayagawa family who runs a small sake brewery. Youngest daughter Noriko is expected to agree to an arranged marriage, whilst widowed daughter-in-law Akiko is being given assistance in finding an appropriate gentleman to remarry. However, the head of the clan, the mischievous Manbei, is visiting his former lover Tsune and their adult daughter Yuriko, much to the consternation of the other Kohayagawas. "Ozu's pared-down visual style facilitates our involvement with these 'ordinary' characters, who are struggling to reconcile their feelings of duty and desire, and to accept life's inevitable changes." - Tom Dawson, BBCi

* 1962 Berlin Film Festival: In competition


1962, 112 minutes, colour
Main Cast: Ryu Chishu, Iwashita Shima, Mikami Shinichiro, Sada Keiji, Okada Mariko, Nakamura Nobuo, Miyake Kuniko

Shuhei has settled into a complacent, domestic life of a widower with his adult children - his son Kazuo and daughter Michiko. Michiko assumed the role of lady of the house after her mother's death. Upon hearing that one of his employees has taken a leave of absence in order to get married, Shusei begins to evaluate Michiko's readiness for marriage as well. As the final film before his death in the following year, Ozu has given us the ultimately poignant experience that will last a lifetime.

* 1962 Kinema Junpo critics' poll: No. 8 among Top-10 Japanese films of the year


Director: Wim Wenders
1985, USA/Germany, 92 minutes, colour

TOKYO-GA has been called a film "diary," but it might be more apt to call it a scrapbook. It is an assortment of images, clips, reflections, and interviews assembled by Wim Wenders during a trip to Tokyo. The impetus for the trip is to see whether the good old Tokyo, captured so precisely in the films of Ozu Yasujiro, still exists. The interviewees include Wenders' fellow German director Werner Herzog, Ozu's favourite actor Ryu Chishu, his cinematographer Atsuta Yuharu, and renowned French documentary maker Chris Marker (who made SANS SOLEIL, a documentary about Japan).