by Chris MaGee
Being a native Torontonian I sometimes get down on my home town (the transit system, anyone...?), but one thing I can never get down on Toronto about is how much of a great film city is, especially for Japanese film! One amazing screening event that we've been lucky enough to host twice here in Toronto is the Shochiku produced Cinema Kabuki project. Like the operatic productions screened as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series Cinema Kabuki utilizes state of the art digital cinematography and projection, as well as crystal clear surround sound in order to give international audiences the closest experience they will ever get to seeing a live kabuki performance. The Japan Foundation office here in the city has done a wonderful job bringing these films to Toronto before, and now they'll be doing it again!
On February 5th and 6th three Cinema Kabuki films will be screened at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W), with two of these being Canadian premieres! The first of these is the exquisite dance piece "Heron Maiden (Sagi Musume)" directed by Hiroyuki Nakatani and the second being the black comedy "Rakuda: Party with a Dead Man" (photo above) also directed by Hiroyuki Nakatani and based on a traditional rakugo comic story. Joining these two films will be the return to Toronto of a Cinema Kabuki favorite "Triple Lion Dance", a powerful dance piece directed by none other than legendary film-maker Yoji Yamada.
Also, if you're reading this in Vancouver and grumbling "I wish we could see some of these Cinema Kabuki films here," well you can! As part of this round of Cinema Kabuki screenings in Canada the films will be making their Vancouver premiere on February 9th at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas. Vancouverites will get a chance to see both "Heron Maiden (Sagi Musume)" and "Triple Lion Dance".
For screening times and ticket details for both the Toronto and Vancouver screenings of Cinema Kabuki please check out the listings posted at the Japan Foundation Toronto website here. For those of you who have yet to witness this amazing cultural and cinematic experience check out the trailer for "Heron Maiden (Sagi Musume)" below.