Japanese Female Directors

  • Kaori Oda – Aragane (2015)

    2011-2020Bosnia HerzegovinaDocumentaryExperimentalJapanese Female DirectorsKaori Oda

    Made while director Kaori Oda was studying at Béla Tarr’s Film.Factory in Sarajevo, Aragane is, on the surface, a documentary about a Bosnian coalmine. As Oda takes us underground, the surroundings are illuminated solely by the available light of the miners’ headlamps, creating a state of sensual semi-blindness that both attunes us to the dangers of the mine and — with the beams cutting arcs of light through the blackness and casting shadows on the cavern walls — becomes an organic metaphor for the roots of cinema itself. It is not surprising that commentators have drawn similarities between Oda’s work and that of Harvard’s renowned Sensory Ethnography Lab: as in such films as Leviathan and Manakamana, in Aragane Oda attempts to understand her subjects through an embodied presence that moves beyond distanced knowledge and towards intimate entanglement.Read More »

  • Asako Hyuga – Morisaki shoten no hibi AKA The Days of Morisaki Bookstore (2010)

    2001-2010Asako HyugaDramaJapanJapanese Female Directors

    Takako (Akiko Kikuchi) is going steady with the man of her dreams who surprises her with the news that he is married. Hurtled into shock by the startling news, Takako takes up her uncle’s invitation to work at the Morisaki book store. While uninterested at first, she gradually comes to like and read books and get to know the neighbourhood and the people who work in it.Read More »

  • Emma Kawawada – Mai sumoru rando AKA My Small Land (2022)

    2021-2030DramaEmma KawawadaJapanJapanese Female Directors

    17-year-old Salya grew up in Japan from an early age, leaving the place where she was born with a Kurdish family. She lived a normal high school life, just like the Japanese of her generation, and her relationship with Sota is becoming special but at some point she lost her status of residence in the shape of her life’s upside down. In Saitama, there is an area where about 2000 Kurds live, and Salya is a high school girl who lives there. However, when she learns that her family’s refugee status is turned down, restricting her family of work and travelling across the city. Her father, who had continued to work to sustain a living, is taken into custody for illegal employment. It tells the story of her growing up, suddenly being forced into a situation where she is responsible not only for her younger siblings but for her very existence.Read More »

  • Yuki Tanada – Oretachi ni asu wa naissu aka Ain’t no Tomorrows (2008)

    2001-2010AsianDramaJapanJapanese Female DirectorsYuki Tanada

    Director Tanada Yuki offers a frank depiction of sexuality at 17 in her brilliant adaptation of Saso Akira’s coming-of-age manga. Charging forward with all the stagnant urgency and high-strung awkwardness of adolescence, “Ain’t No Tomorrows” weaves three episodes of high school angst and sexual awakening. Sex-obsessed virgin Hiruma (Emoto Tokio, Your Friends) desperately pursues a sickly classmate (Miwako). His buddy Mine (Endo Yuya, Nodame Cantabile) becomes the unlikely savior for a naive schoolgirl (Ando Sakura, Love Exposure), and chubby Ando (Kusano Ini) unexpectedly scores with the class beauty (Misaki Ayame, Ghost Friends).Read More »

  • Kinuyo Tanaka – Ogin-sama AKA Love Under the Crucifix (1962)

    1961-1970DramaJapanJapanese Female DirectorsKinuyo Tanaka

    Rouven Linnarz wrote:
    Although she would go on to make feature films as an actress, Kinuyo Tanaka’s last project as a director would be the 1963 jidaigeki “Love Under the Crucifix”, a work based on the novel “Ogin-sama” by Toko Kon. At the same time, given her development as a filmmaker, this is truly an interesting climax to a career which saw her progressing more and more, developing her skills, especially when it comes to cinematic storytelling. Additionally, the themes that defined her previous works such as “Love Letter” and “Forever a Woman” also found a fitting conclusion in a feature that, even though it was not set in the present as her other movies, it certainly made a very relevant point about gender roles within Japanese society as well as the conflict between duty and desire as expressed in the story of the main characters.Read More »

  • Mariko Miyagi – Nemuno-ki no uta AKA The Silk Tree Ballad (1974)

    1971-1980AsianDocumentaryJapanJapanese Female DirectorsMariko Miyagi

    Mariko Miyagi was an actress who had also written screenplays, produced, and directed films. She was also the director of Nemunoki Gakuen, a school for disabled children – the first ever such school in Japan. The school was founded by Miyagi in Shizuoka Perfecture in April 1968 using her own money. At Nemunoki, children and young adults with physical, intellectual or familial difficulties are gently encouraged to discover and develop their talents through such activities as painting, music, tea ceremony and dancing. The Silk Tree Ballad was the first in a series of documentaries, initially distributed by the ATG.Read More »

  • Shiori Kazama – Sekai no owari AKA World’s End Girlfriend (2005)

    2001-2010ComedyDramaJapanJapanese Female DirectorsShiori Kazama

    Shinnosuke (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) and Misawa (Keishi Nagatsuka) are joint managers of a Bonsai shop. Suddenly Shinnosuke’s childhood friend Haruko (Mami Nakamura) turns up. She has split up with her boyfriend and finds herself out on the streets. Shinnosuke starts to like Haruko and really wants to cheer her up, but he can’t manage to express his real feelings or stop picking up other women. Misawa is dumbfounded by Shinnosuke’s behavior but also has complex feelings of love for his friend. Haruko realizes that Shinnosuke is falling in love with her but she pretends not to notice in order to keep the peace between the friends. Then one day Shinnosuke suddenly blurts out his feelings for Haruko, but she has just hooked up with another man. Haruko moves out of the shop and in with the man, but then his wife returns and Haruko finds herself out on the streets again. Shinnosuke has to start cheering her up all over again.Read More »

  • Yûka Eda – Shôjo kaikô AKA Girls’ Encounter (2017)

    2011-2020DramaJapanJapanese Female DirectorsYûka Eda

    Miyuri Obara (Moeka Hoshi) is a quiet outsider among the mean girls at her provincial school, opting to keep to herself — and to tackle her angst through tentative self-harm — rather than fight back. Her only companion is, in fact, a silkworm.Read More »

  • Yumi Yoshiyuki – Mibôjin apâto: Kyonyû no uzuku yoru (2007)

    2001-2010EroticaJapanJapanese Female DirectorsYumi Yoshiyuki

    Misaki’s husband Ken’ichi dies in a car accident soon after their marriage. He had managed the Sunrise Villa apartments, which his parents have managed after his death. A psychic claims to have received word from Ken’ichi’s spirit that he wants the apartments to be kept running responsibly.Read More »

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