BFI Japan 2020: Over 100 Years of Japanese Cinema launches on BFI Player

We’re launching a major six-month season on BFI Player with new collections including Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, independent, cult, anime, 21st century and J-Horror.

4 May 2020

Lady Snowblood (1973)

The BFI today announces highlights of BFI Japan 2020: Over 100 Years of Japanese Cinema, a major celebration of Japanese cinema launching on 11 May 2020. Originally scheduled to run in venues across the UK from May-September 2020, we’ve responded to the current situation by programming nine new online collections of Japanese films on BFI Player from May-October 2020. The season will continue in cinemas when they are able to reopen, hopefully later this year and into 2021. The BFI will also be launching a complementary digital events programme, to run concurrently on BFI YouTube, with details to be announced soon.

BFI Japan will feature the great classics of Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Mikio Naruse, the samurai swordsmen of Akira Kurosawa and the pioneering women of the golden age like Kinuyo Tanaka. There will be striking films by post-war New Wave directors like Nagisa Oshima, vivid visions of anime masters such as Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon, and the J-horror netherworlds created by filmmakers like Hideo Nakata.

The season will also celebrate contemporary visionaries such as Takashi Miike, Takeshi Kitano and Naomi Kawase, as well as spotlight the next generation of creatives making waves in Japan, with the chance to see 21st-century films that are yet to be made available in the UK.

Harakiri (1962)

It will also draw on the BFI National Archive’s significant collection of early films of Japan dating back to 1894, including travelogues, home movies and newsreels, offering audiences a rare chance to see how European and Japanese filmmakers captured life in Japan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. BFI Japan will bring great works from over a century of cinema back to audiences across the UK, as well as spotlighting leading film and moving image creatives today.

BFI Japan will include:

  • A major season on BFI Player, divided into thematic collections and released between May and October: Akira Kurosawa (11 May), Classics (11 May), Yasujiro Ozu (5 June), Cult (3 July), Anime (31 July), Independence (21 August), 21st Century (18 September) and J-Horror (30 October). All the collections will be available to BFI Player subscribers (£4.99 a month), with a 14 day free trial available to new customers.
  • There will also be a major new free collection released on BFI Player on 12 October: Early Films of Japan (1894-1914) will feature material from the BFI National Archive’s significant collection of early films of Japan dating back to 1894. Highlights include the oldest surviving film, Japanese Dancers (1894), which captures three Japanese women performing an Imperial dance from The Mikado, and early colour film Japanese Festival (1910) which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama’s Harbour. Full details of the Early Films of Japan collection will be announced soon.
  • There will be numerous BFI DVD and Blu-ray releases, including Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953) and The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice (1952) – both in new 4K restorations; Toshio Matsumoto’s controversial debut Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) will receive its UK Blu-ray premiere; and there will be a Takeshi Kitano Blu-ray boxset featuring Sonatine (1993), Violent Cop (1989) and Boiling Point (1990). All these films will be available on BFI Player.
  • An online events programme on BFI YouTube will run alongside the BFI Player season, featuring virtual Q&As, introductions and more. Details to be announced.
  • A new book The Japanese Cinema Book, edited by Hideaki Fujiki (Nagoya University, Japan) and Alastair Phillips (University of Warwick, UK), and published by BFI & Bloomsbury, is available in e-book and print editions now.
  • Sight & Sound will celebrate anime this summer with a special issue out at the end of May.
The Girl Who Leapt through Time (2006)

When cinemas are reopened:

  • There will be a BFI UK-wide re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s seminal masterpiece Seven Samurai (1954), back in cinemas from 23 October (pending reopening of venues).
  • A season dedicated to classic Japanese cinema will take place at BFI Southbank once the venue is able to reopen, featuring screenings of work from Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu and more, with special events, guests, and family screenings of Studio Ghibli classics. Additional seasons will follow in 2021 celebrating Anime and 21st Century filmmakers, with the latter co-presented by the Japan Foundation.
  • For audiences across the UK, the BFI has curated the BFI JAPAN TOUR, featuring classics from Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa and more, so that regional cinemas can support BFI Japan. The BFI will also work closely with the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) to help venues book titles and host special events once they are able to consider reopening to the public.
  • BFI Japan will also feature a programme presented in collaboration with international partners including the National Film Archive Japan (NFAJ) in Tokyo, with more details to be announced soon.