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Japan’s prolific detective and criminal movie production remains largely unknown in the West. Product of an obvious process of importing foreign literary and movie genres, principally American, Japanese film noir could seem like something of an anecdote in the history of Nippon movies. But Japan skilfully  endowed its detective stories with a “national touch”: the gangster sense of honour, the patient research work carried out by the police, the torment of the outcast criminal or the portrayal of a society badly hit by post-war chaos were all subjects expressing the many concerns and anxieties suffered by Japanese psychology.

The Japan in Black retrospective permits an overview in this parallel history of a Japanese cinema unscreened at Western film festivals and clubs, yet enthusiastically consumed by local audiences. It will include movies about subjects ranging from the itinerant gamblers (batuko) of the silent period to the boom experienced by gangster movies post-WWII, the important contributions made by moviemakers like Akira Kurosawa or Shohei Imamura or the significant incursions of excellent directors from the period of Japanese modernity (Nagisa Oshima, Mashahiro Shinoda, Hiroshi Teshigahara) who used criminal intrigue to make subversive, highly personal films. And we will particularly focus on the moment of splendour enjoyed by yakuza eiga (Japanese gangster movies) in the 60s, with an enormous output of reels about heroic, solitary gangsters; and on the decade of the 70s, when yakuza eiga took on a more realistic aspect.

But Japan in Black will consider other expressions of film noir: criminal melodrama or the adventures of hardboiled detectives in the purest tradition, not forgetting the interesting revival enjoyed by the genre since the 90s thanks to directors like Takeshi Kitano, Takashi Miike, Takashi Ikii or Kiyoshi Kurosawa.


43-film retrospective ‘Japan in Black’ combines classics, current trends and new discoveries

The Japan in Black retrospective featured at the upcoming edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival will include 43 films from every period of Japanese film history and the different paths the genre has taken so far.

Japan in Black will include silent era movies by Daisuke Ito, classics by Akira Kurosawa and Shohei Imamura, and new trends from Japanese film noir which are having a profound influence on modern filmmaking around the world. Films by names such as Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Masato Harada, Takashi Miike and Takeshi Kitano come together in what will probably be one of the genre’s most ambitious showcases.

A number of specialists and devotees will be coming to San Sebastian to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more about a special kind of film noir now enjoying a period of revival. Theater Of Life: Hishakaku (Jinsei Gekijo – Hishakaku, 1963) by Tadashi Sawashima and Big Time Gambling Boss (Bakuchi-uchi: Socho Tobaku, 1968) by Kosaku Yamashita are just some of the new discoveries that will be featured in Japan in Black, a retrospective that will draw some of today’s most talented filmmakers to San Sebastian.


 Films screened at the retrospective: 

  • A Diary Of Chuji’s Travels (Chuji tabi nikki, 1927) Daisuke Ito
  • Jirokichi The Rat (Oatsurae Jirokichi Goshi, 1931) Daisuke Ito
  • Police Officer (Keisatsukan, 1933) Tomu Uchida
  • Dragnet Girl (Hijosen no onna, 1933) Yasujiro Ozu 
  • Stray Dog (Nora Inu, 1949) Akira Kurosawa 
  • I Saw the Killer (Kyatsu o nigasu na, 1956) Hideo Suzuki
  • Stake Out (Harikomi, 1957)  Yoshitaro Nomura 
  • Endless Desire (Hateshinaki yokubo, 1958) Shohei Imamura 
  • Afraid to die (Karakkaze yarô, 1960) Yasuzo Masumura
  • The Sun’s Burial (Taiyo No Hakaba, 1960) Nagisa Oshima
  • The Last Gunfight (Ankokugai no Taiketsu,1960) Kihachi Okamoto
  • Greed in Broad Daylight (Hakuchuu no Buraikan, 1961) Kinji Fukasaku
  • Pigs And Battleships (Buta to gunkan, 1961) Shohei Imamura
  • Zero Focus (Zero no shoten, 1961) Yoshitaro Nomura
  • High and Low (Tengoku To Jigoku, 1963)  Akira Kurosawa
  • Theater Of Life: Hishakaku  (Jinsei Gekijo – Hishakaku, 1963) Tadashi Sawashima
  • Youth of the Beast (Yaju no seishun, 1963) Seijun Suzuki 
  • Pale Flower (Kawaita Hana, 1964) Masahiro Shinoda
  • Abashiri Prison / Man from Abashiri jail (Abashiri bangaichi, 1965) Teruo Ishii 
  • Brutal Tales of Chivalry (Showa Zankyoden, 1965) Kiyoshi Saeki
  • The 893 Gang (893 Gurentai, 1966) Sadao Nakajima
  • A Colt Is My Passport (Koruto wa Ore no Pasupoto,1967) Takashi Nomura
  • Big Time Gambling Boss (Bakuchi-uchi: Socho Tobaku, 1968) Kosaku Yamashita
  • Man Without a Map / Ruined Map (Moetsukita chizu, 1968) Hiroshi Teshigawara
  • I, The Executioner (Minagoroshi no reika, 1968) Tai Kato
  • Shinjuku Mad (Shinjuku Maddo, 1970) Koji Wakamatsu
  • Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (Nora-neko rokku: Sekkusu Hanta, 1970) Yasuharu Hasebe
  • Cherry Blossom Fire Gang (Junko intai kinen eiga: Kantô hizakura ikka, 1972) Masahiro Makino
  • Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Joshuu 701-Go: sasori, 1972) Shunya Ito
  • Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Jingi naki tatakai, 1973) Kinji Fukasaku 
  • Graveyard Of Honor (Jingi no hakaba, 1975) Kinji Fukasaku
  • The Inugami Family (Inugamike No Ichizoku, 1976) Kon Ichikawa
  • The Man Who Stole the Sun (Taiyo wo nusunda otoko, 1979) Kazuhiko Hasegawa
  • The Beast to Die (Yaju Shisubeshi, 1980) Toru Murakawa
  • The Yakuza Wives (Gokudo no onna-tachi, 1986) Hideo Gosha 
  • Violent Cop (Sono otoko kyobo ni tsuki, 1987) Takeshi Kitano 
  • The Most Terrible Time In My Life (Waga jinsei saiaku no toki,1993) Kaizo Hayashi
  • Gonin (Gonin, 1995) Takashi Ishii
  • Onibi - The Fire Within (Onibi, 1995) Rokuro Mochizuki
  • Rainy Dog (Gokudo Kuroshakai, 1997) Takashi Miike
  • Bullet Ballet (Baretto Baree, 1998) Shinya Tsukamoto
  • Serpent's Path (Hebi no michi, 1998) Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Jubaku: Spellbound (Kinyû fushoku rettô, 1999) Masato Harada



Under more generic, allegorically-entitled headings, the Festival has grouped together films not commonly offered (even in specialised sections) and which, nevertheless, deserve filmgoersí attention. Based on this philosophy, a number of cycles have seen the light, including "The Guys in the Photo", "Forgotten Films"; "You Only Live Once", "The Best 100 Years in our Lives", "The European Adventure", "Spanish Cinema Discoveries", "The Red Nightmare", "A Long Absence", the two editions dedicated to post-war Italian comedy, entitled "Hunger, Humour and Fantasy" and "The Boom Italian-Style", or "The TV Generation", "It Happened yesterday", "50 from the 50s", "Amongst friends and neighbours", "Incorrect@s", "Rebellious and untamed", "Emigrants", "Cold Fever" last of these cycles.


Thematic Retrospective: JAPANESE FILM NOIR 

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