The exceptional Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo died in May at age 100. In tribute, we present this series of three of his very finest films. Haunted by the devastation of his native Hiroshima, Shindo was a life-long socialist and directed almost 50 films over the span of his career. He left a remarkably diverse body of work, from humanist docu-dramas to expressionistic ghost stories. In the 1940s, he was a screenwriter, and then began working as an assistant director to such major filmmakers as Kon Ichikawa and Seijun Suzuki. He eventually formed his own production company and made politically conscious features, culminating in The Naked Island, his mesmerizing wordless study of Japanese farmers, considered by many to be his masterpiece.
“My mind was always on the commoners, not on the lords, politicians, or anyone of name and fame. I wanted to convey the lives of down-to-earth people who live like weeds.” - Kaneto Shindo
The Naked IslandAug 9, 2012 6:30pm
Aug 12, 2012 1:00pm
A true landmark of Japanese cinema, The Naked Island is the tale of a family of poor farmers struggling for existence on a nearly deserted archipelago in southwest Japan. Shindo strips the film down to its bare essentials; there is no spoken dialogue, the plot is minimal, and it is all captured with striking black-and-white cinematography. (1960, 96 min, 35mm)
KuronekoAug 16, 2012 6:30pm
Aug 19, 2012 1:00pm
In war-torn medieval Japan, a demon haunts the Rajomon Gate, ripping out the throats of samurai in the grove beyond. The governor sends a war hero to confront the spirit, but what the man finds are two beautiful women who look just like his lost mother and wife. Both a chilling ghost story and a meditation on the nature of war and social hypocrisy, Kuroneko mixes stunning visuals, an evocative score, and influences from traditional Japanese theater to create an emotionally devastating work. (1968, 95 min, 35mm)
OnibabaAug 23, 2012 6:30pm
Aug 26, 2012 1:00pm
Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a desperate existence. Forced to murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for grain, they dump the corpses and live off of their meager spoils. When a bedraggled neighbor enters the scene, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio’s tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals their fate. With stunning images, both lyrical and macabre, Shindo’s chilling folktale Onibaba is a singular cinematic experience. (1964, 103 min, 35mm)
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National Endowment for the Arts
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.