Japan Society New York will pay tribute to one of the defining voices of ’90s Japanese cinema Shunji Iwai with four of his most representative films screening Dec. 9 & 10 with April Story also available to stream across the US until Dec. 23.
Friday, December 9 at 7:00 PM: Love Letter
A phenomenal hit across Asia on its 1995 release, Iwai’s intensely moving romantic melodrama sees two lost young women (each played by pop star Miho Nakayama) make a serendipitous connection through a misdirected letter that allows each of them to come to terms the traumatic past. Review.
Saturday, December 10 at 5:00 PM: Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?
One of a number of shorts Iwai directed for anthology television series, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? won the Japan Film Director’s Guild Newcomer Award in 1993 and takes place over the climactic final day of school as boys argue about whether fireworks are round or flat depending on the angle you look at them from and a young woman decides to leave town. It also provided the inspiration for Akiyuki Shinbo & Nobuyuki Takeuchi’s 2017 anime Fireworks. Joint screening with April Story.
Saturday, December 10 at 5:00 PM: April Story
Also available to stream online in the US Dec. 9 to 23.
A beautifully lensed soft focus meditation of first love and new beginnings, Iwai’s perfectly pitched drama stars a young Takako Matsu as a lovelorn student who’s travelled from Hokkaido to Tokyo for university while chasing a high school crush. Joint screening with Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?.
Saturday, December 10 at 7:15 PM: All About Lily Chou Chou
Screening on 35mm
An elegy for the turn of the century teen, Iwai’s brutal bullying drama oscillates around the lives of two boys communicating via a message board dedicated to the Faye Wong-inspired pop star Lily Chou Chou.
Tickets for all the films priced at $15/$12 students and seniors /$10 Japan Society members are on sale now via Japan Society’s website while streaming rentals for April Story will be available from Dec. 9 priced at $10 (Japan Society members receive a 20% discount via coupon code) with a three-day viewing window. You can also keep up with all the year-round events by following Japan Society Film on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.