Marking 50 years since Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, Japan Society New York’s Visions of Okinawa: Cinematic Reflections looks back to 1972 with a series of films either set or actually made around the time of this transitional moment each reflecting on the islands’ complex history and unique local culture. Running May 13 to June 3, the season will feature a series of in-person screenings and online streaming with two documentaries by Nihon Documentarist Union available to stream worldwide (excl. Japan & Taiwan).

In-Theater Screenings

All in-person screenings will take place in Japan Society’s auditorium, located at 333 E. 47th Street in New York, NY.

May 13, 7pm: Paradise View

Also streaming online in North America May 14 to June 3

Set immediately before Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, Go Takamine’s first feature is a magical realist exploration of a culture at a turning point of history as the village prepares for a wedding between a Japanese teacher (played by Haruomi Hosono) and a local girl who is already carrying the child of a man who has lost his spirit.

May 14, 4.30pm: Level Five

A computer programmer tasked with recreating the Battle of Okinawa explores the history of the islands while in dialogue with her late lover in the final feature from Chris Marker.

May 14, 7pm: Dear Summer Sister

Screening on 35mm

A teenage girl travels to Okinawa on the eve of its Reversion along with a friend in search of a boy who may be her half-brother and is guided around the islands by a grizzled war veteran in an uncharacteristically breezy summer adventure from Nagisa Oshima.

May 20, 7pm: Terror of Yakuza

Also known as Okinawa Yakuza War, Sadao Nakajima’s jitsuroku classic stars Sonny Chiba as a unhinged gangster whose hegemony is threatened on several fronts when Hiroki Matsukata’s loyal footsoldier is released from prison after knocking off the heads of two rival gangs only to find their space filled by encroaching mainland yakuza.

May 21, 7pm: Untamagiru

Screening on 35mm

Told mainly in the disappearing Okinawan language, Go Takamine’s second feature is an anarchic magical realist musical fable in which a day labourer is forced to flee to the forest after sleeping with his boss’ voluptuous daughter and unwittingly discovering she is an anthropomorphised pig only to gain superpowers thanks to a sympathetic tree spirit and subsequently use them in the service of the Okinawan independence movement.

Online Screenings

May 14 to June 3

Focus on the Nihon Documentarist Union (NDU)

Available worldwide (excl. Japan & Taiwan)

Shot over 15 months from April 1969 to July 1970 Motoshinkakarannu takes its name from a euphemism for sex work in the Okinawan language and captures the islands on the brink of transition through the eyes of sex workers, yakuza, tourists, and American servicemen.

Asia is One

Available worldwide (excl. Japan & Taiwan)

Long thought lost until rediscovered in 2005, Asia is One examines a legacy of exploitation by mainland mining companies of the Taiwanese and Korean migrants working in harsh conditions in the mines.

Visions of Okinawa: Cinematic Reflections runs in person at Japan Society New York May 13 to 21 and online May 14 to June 3. Full details for all the films are available via the official website where tickets are already on sale while rentals for the movies streaming online are available via Japan Society’s streaming platform with passes for all three films available from May 14. You can also keep up with all the year-round events by following Japan Society Film on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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