This screening will be preceded by an introduction by Deborah Shamoon, Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies at the National University of Singapore.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN PREMIERE
Alternative Title: The Eternal Breasts
Director: Kinuyo Tanaka
Runtime: 110 minutes
Rating: NC16 (Some Nudity)
“This is a film directed by Tanaka Kinuyo, dedicated to all womankind. The pathos and intensity of women’s lives have never before been so revealed”.
– Extract from newspaper advertisement, Forever a Woman, Yomiuru Shinbun 1955
Based on the life of tanka poet, Fumiko Nakajo (her biography The Eternal Breasts serves as the film’s alternative title), Forever a Woman depicts a divorced mother of two whose rising literary fame cruelly intersects with a diagnosis of breast cancer, and a subsequent mastectomy. Struggling with her sense of womanhood, she forms an intimate relationship with a journalist, in a powerful act of self-reclamation and desire. Sensuous and heartbreaking in equal measure, Tanaka’s third directorial feature is among her most personal works and is considered to be way ahead of its time for its frank depiction of a woman’s love and sexuality.
Scripted by woman screenwriter Sumie Tanaka (who also wrote Girls of Dark), the film can be read as a collaborative expression of intent to represent the subjective experience of a woman—as she is—liberated from the socially normative role of the wife/mother archetypes that Tanaka was all too familiar with portraying as an actress for male filmmakers. Like her protagonist, she reclaims her agency and perspective on her own terms via her authorial position as a director.
About the Speaker
Deborah Shamoon is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the National University of Singapore. Her research focuses on representations of girls and women in Japanese film, literature and popular culture. Her publications include Passionate Friendship: The Aesthetics of Girls’ Culture in Japan (2012); “Misora Hibari and the Girl Star in Postwar Japanese Cinema,” Signs 35:1 (2009); and “Class S: Appropriation of ‘Lesbian’ Subculture in Modern Japanese Literature and New Wave Cinema,” Cultural Studies 35.1 (2020).
Retrospective: Kinuyo Tanaka is held in conjunction with Japanese Film Festival Singapore, and has been made possible with the generous support of the Japan Foundation.
For the full Retrospective: Kinuyo Tanaka programme, please visit here.
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