Kenji Mizoguchi: A Life in Film

Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre & Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Science Museum 
Date: 2018.11.01 - 2018.12.02
Price: Tickets are NOW available at URBTIX. Ticket prices: $75 / 60* Tickets package (includes one ticket of the five films): $280   ** 20% off for each purchase of 4 or more standard tickets.   
Kenji Mizoguchi is one of the most revered film masters, wowing many great American and European directors with his spectacular long shots and his dedication to depicting the suffering and sacrifice of Japanese women. With close to 100 films to his credit, Mizoguchi was one of the most prolific directors of his generation. The films selected by the Hong Kong Arts Centre in this programme include such classics as Ugetsu and early masterpieces like The Story of the Last ChrysanthemumsThe Woman in the Rumor is rarely seen on the big screen, while Street of Shame represents a variation and final conclusion of Mizoguchi’s favourite theme of prostitution. These four works amply showcase the master’s striving for artistic perfection and his humanism. In addition, documentary Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director directed by Mizoguchi’s protégé Kaneto Shindo allow audiences to retrace the life and works of the master filmmaker. 
 
Screening Schedule
Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Science Museum
03/11 (Sat)   7pm       Street of Shame
25/11 (Sun)  7:30pm  The Woman in the Rumor
02/12 (Sun)  7pm       The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre
01/11 (Thu)   8pm      Ugetsu
14/11 (Wed)  8pm      Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director 
 
 
 
Ugetsu
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi         
Japan | 1953 | 94' 00" |  In Japanese with English subtitles | 35mm | B&W
 
Date & Time: 1/11/2018 (Thu) 8pm
Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre (UB, 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong)
 
Awards:
Silver Lion Award, Venice Film Festival 1953
3rd place in Kinema Junpo’s list of best films 1953
Selected by Sight & Sound Magazine as among the top 10 greatest films of all time 1962 and 1972
 
The crowning achievement in Mizoguchi’s use of long shots  
 
In the age of samurai in Japan, the potter Genjuro goes to a nearby market to sell his wares but meets and falls in love with a mysterious princess and promptly forgets is wife and child. However, when the princess turns out to be a ghost, Genjuro is forced to flee. Meanwhile, his brother in law Tobei dreams of becoming a samurai and abandons his wife to follow his path. He wins honours in a battle and achieves his ambitions, but later stumbles upon his wife working as a prostitute in a brothel. Genjuro returns to his home village and discovers that his wife has been killed by invading soldiers, but she returns as a ghost to protect her husband. This film classic represents the crowning achievement in Mizoguchi’s use of long shots, which catapulted him into the ranks of world film masters. 
 
 
 
Street of Shame
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi         
Japan | 1956 | 86' 00" |  In Japanese with English subtitles | 35mm | B&W

Date & Time: 3/11/2018 (Sat) 7pm
Venue: Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Science Museum (1/F, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
 
Japanese women’s survivalist tales in a post-war red light district
 
As the Japanese Diet considers a ban on prostitution, the brothels in Tokyo’s Yoshiwara district experiences a fin de siècle boom. This film centres on the stories and experiences of a few prostitutes: a widow who tries to bring up her son, a wife whose husband is sick and unemployed, a rebellious girl from a rich family and a materialistic woman who works to repay her father’s debts. They are all victims of tragedy and only the heartless can find a new way out. Prostitution was one of Mizoguchi’s favourite subjects, and in this final film, he presents a kaleidoscope of prostitute archetypes, allowing stars such as Machiko Kyo, Ayako Wakao and Aiko Mimasu to shine in their respective roles.
 
 
 
Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director
Director: Kaneto Shindo        
Japan | 1975 | 150' 00" | In Japanese with English subtitles | 16mm |  Colour
 
Date & Time: 14/11/2018 (Wed) 8pm
Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre (UB, 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong)
 
Awards:
1st place in Kinema Junpo’s list of best films in 1975 and winner of best director award
 
Let’s all talk about Kenji Mizoguchi
 
This is the first documentary to be awarded the best film by Kinema Junpo. Director Kaneto Shindo, a protégé of Mizoguchi, looks back on the master’s life and career with nearly 40 interviewees. Many subjects are covered in this film, from behind the scenes goings on in Mizoguchi’s classic works and the many women in his life, particularly his intriguing relationship with actress Kinuyo Tanaka. The film reveals the tough work demanded of scriptwriters and actors that contributed to making great works of film art. While Mizoguchi was a demanding auteur, his stars also had moments when they lost their cool on set. Recounting Mizoguchi’s films and life, the faces of former colleagues and actors invariably light up as they offer one surprisingly entertaining anecdote after another. 
 
 
The Woman in the Rumor
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi         
Japan | 1954 | 83' 00" |  In Japanese with English subtitles | 35mm | B&W
 
Date & Time: 25/11/2018 (Sun) 7:30pm
Venue: Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Science Museum (1/F, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
* Speaker Chiharu Mukudai will attend after-screening talk.
 
Geisha mother and daughter fall in love with the same man
Two generations write an elegy of life

 
Yukiko returns to Kyoto following a failed suicide attempt and stays in the geisha house run by her mother, Hatsuko. Spurned by her lover after he has found out about her mother's profession, Yukiko is initially disdainful of prostitution but gradually becomes sympathetic to the tragic and helpless girls working under her mother. At the same time, Yukiko’s relationship with Hatsuko’s secret lover Dr. Matoba becomes increasingly intimate, which causes her mother grief and forces the two to come to a head. This film was shot on a lavish set that recreates the geisha district of Shimabara in Kyoto and stars Kinuyo Tanaka, who plays Hatsuko, and Yushiko Kuga as Yukiko. The sparring scenes in which the mother and daughter fight over the same man is especially riveting.
 
 
 
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi         
Japan | 1939 | 143' 00" | In Japanese with English subtitles | 35mm | B&W
 
Date & Time: 2/12/2018 (Sun) 7pm
Venue: Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Science Museum (1/F, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
* Veteran film critic Cheng Chuen-wai will attend after-screening talk.

Awards:
2nd place in Kinema Junpo’s list of best films 1939
 
A maid spends her whole life for a man’s artistic achievement
 
Set in the Meiji era, this film centres on Kiku, the adopted son of a famous Kabuki actor, who trains to succeed in his father’s career. His acting skills are still immature but he is surrounded by sycophants, and only Otoku the servant girl is frank with him about his abilities. Kiku and Otuku fall in love, but their relationship is frowned upon due to their wide social gap. Kiku is later forced out of the theatre troupe and tries to hone his skills on the road, while the faithful Oyuku stays by his side. The first installment in a trilogy about theater, this film combines the theme of woman’s sacrifice with that of the pursuit of artistic excellence. The director’s use of long takes to depict the world of theatre in the Meiji era reveal the splendors of the Kabuki stage while at the same time telling a compelling and heart-warming story about human fortitude.

*20% off discount for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis. Concessionary ticket holders must produce evidence of their identity or age upon admission.

 

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Presented by Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong
In collaboration with The Japan Foundation
Organised by Hong Kong Arts Centre
Supported by Japan Autumn Festival in Hong Kong - Rediscovering Nippon
Acknowledgement: Leisure and Cultural Services Department

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