Kinuyo Tanaka

  • October 7, 2022 | 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM | Friday
  • Oldham Theatre
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Retrospective is a regular series showcasing bodies of work from an extended period of activity by filmmakers of different eras. Devoted to the region’s film history, contributions and movements within the industries in Asia, the platform focuses on particular profiles, themes and aesthetics to allow audiences to experience past and ongoing cinematic transformations.

About the programme

With a career spanning more than 50 years and over 250 films, Kinuyo Tanaka (1909–1973), is among Japan’s most eminent figures of cinema. Most known for her onscreen work with auteurs such as Yasujirō Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Keisuke Kinoshita, her own dynamic directorial output has been unduly overlooked, until recently. 

Born and raised in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, before moving to Osaka, where Tanaka began her artistic life as a child biwa player and later made her screen debut at 14, during the silent era of film. Rising through the ranks of the Shochiku studios, she earned consecutive top-billings and became one of the nation’s most popular lead actresses by the mid-1930s. Although disrupted by the war, her fame continued to rise in the 40s and 50s, winning plaudits at home and abroad with films such as Mizoguchi’s Life of Oharu (1952). 

In 1953, despite the prejudices and hurdles of a male-dominated industry, Tanaka ventured behind the camera with her directorial debut, Love Letter, which was a critical and commercial success. She directed six films over 9 years, making her the first—and for many years, the only woman filmmaker in post-war Japan. Each of her films, although unique in approach and style, is connected to one another by a singular determination to centre the experiences of women, across class and history. From sex workers to poets, lovers and mothers, Tanaka emphasised the dauntless spirit of the individual and the collective power of female kinship. 

Following successful runs at Cannes Film Festival 2021, Tokyo International Film Festival 2021, Film at Lincoln Center and the British Film Institute, the Asian Film Archive, presents—for the first time in Southeast Asia—the complete directorial works of Kinuyo Tanaka, all in new 4K digital restorations. Accompanying these films will be a curated selection that represents the diversity of her acting career. A highlight event will be a rare screening of Yasujirō Ozu’s silent film classic Dragnet Girl (1933), which will be screened with a specially-commissioned live score. 

Retrospective: Kinuyo Tanaka will run from 7 October to 5 November 2022 at Oldham Theatre. The programme is held in conjunction with Japanese Film Festival Singapore, and has been made possible with the generous support of the Japan Foundation. 

– Viknesh Kobinathan, Programmer


As Director
Love Letter (恋文 / Koibumi) (1953)
Forever a Woman (乳房よ永遠なれ / Chibusa yo eien nare) (1955)
The Moon Has Risen
(月は上りぬ / Tsuki wa noborinu) (1955)
The Wandering Princess (流転の王妃 / Ruten no ouhi) (1960)
Girls of Dark (女ばかりの夜 / Onna bakari no yoru) (1961)
Love Under the Crucifix (お吟さま / Ogin-sama) (1962)

As Actress
Dragnet Girl (非常線の女 / Hijōsen no Onna) (1933, dir. Yasujirō Ozu) *PRESENTED WITH LIVE SCORE*
A Hen in the Wind
(風の中の牝鶏 / Kaze no naka no mendori) (1948, dir. Yasujirō Ozu)
The Life of Oharu (西鶴一代女 / Saikaku Ichidai Onna) (1952, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)
Equinox Flower (彼岸花 / Higanbana) (1958, dir. Yasujirō Ozu)
The Ballad of Narayama (楢山節考 / Narayama-bushi Kō) (1958, dir. Keisuke Kinoshita)

Tickets will go on sale Friday, 23 September 2022.

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Important Notice:
Do note that Oldham Theatre operates on a free seating arrangement. Doors will open 20 minutes before showtime so arrive early to choose a seat and avoid disrupting the screenings as AFA does not play ads and screenings will start promptly.
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