by Chris MaGee
It seems like 2009 and 2010 are marking quite a few centenary celebrations. This year marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of author Osamu Dazai. To mark the occasion there have been adaptation after adaptation of his works including Kichitaro Negishi's "Villon's Wife", Masatoshi Akihara's Shayo (The Setting Sun", and Masanori Tominaga's upcoming "Pandora's Box". Meanwhile next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Akira Kurosawa which is being celebrated with a newly restored print of "Rashomon", a massive 24-film boz set from the folks at the Criterion Collection, and the reworking of Kurosawa's last screenplay, based on Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death", into an animated film. Quite the heavy hitters, but this year there was another centenary that hasn't been as highly hyped, but really should have been.
2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of actress, director, and good will ambassador Kinuyo Tanaka. Most of you will recognize Tanaka from her roles min Kenji Mizoguchi's landmark films "The Life of Oharu" and "Sansho the Bailiff", but while she was amazing in both of these her life story is so much more rich than just a couple of appearances. Last December I wrote up a brief article about Tanaka's accomplishments (read it here, but to lay things out briefly Tanaka was the first female feature film director as well as being the first Japanese good will ambassador to visit the United States after the Second World War. Quite the lady.
Now, starting on October 8th and running until December 27th the National Film Center in Tokyo will be running an extensive retrospective of Tanaka's work titled "Film Actress Kinuyo Tanaka at her Centenary (Part 1)" The retrospective will be made up of 53 of Tanaka's films including Japanese cinema's very first sound film, Heinosuke Gosho's "The Neighbour's Wife and Mine", Tanaka's directorial debut "Koibumi "The Love Letter", and her Silver Bear award-winning performance in Kei Kumai’s "Sandakan No. 8".
"Film Actress Kinuyo Tanaka at her Centenary (Part 1)???" Could we be lucky enough to see a "Part 2" in the not so near future? Let's hope so. You can read more about the retrospective (in Japanese) here, and thanks to good friend Cathy Munroe Hotes for reminding all of us of this special anniversary.