Suzuki Seijun 35mm Film Series (Fall 2022)




Photograph of film director, Suzuki Seijun (1923-2017)
                            Film & TV director Suzuki Seijun (1923-2017)

Screen/Society and the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute invite you to join us for 3 special evenings of screenings
featuring films by Japanese film director Suzuki Seijun, shown on rarely-screened 35mm prints.

This series is made possible by generous support from the Japan Foundation New York.

Fri Nov 4, 7pm: Tokyo Drifter (1966)

tokyo drifter still

Thu Nov 10, 7pm: Carmen from Kawachi (1966)

carmen still

Fri Nov 11, 7pm: Kagero-za (Heat-Haze Theater) (1981)

kagero-za still

Now best-known internationally for yakuza movies from the 1960s, Suzuki Seijun began his career as a filmmaker slowly rising through the ranks of assistant director positions at Shōchiku and Nikkatsu Studios before becoming a director for Nikkatsu in the mid-1950s. He directed 40 theatrical films and one television episode for the studio between 1956 and 1968 in a variety of genres, including musicals, melodramas, youth comedies, and crime films. Though his films were not typically very high-profile in their initial release, he developed a cult following among college students, newly forming cinephile societies, and independent filmmakers for his often idiosyncratic use of film form in otherwise conventional narratives. In 1968, he was unceremoniously fired by Nikkatsu, and the studio president declared that he would forbid any further screenings of Suzuki's work for the studio on the grounds that they were "incomprehensible" and an embarrassment to a studio. This led to the formation of the "Suzuki Seijun Joint Struggle Committee," an unlikely collection of cinephiles and left-wing activists who protested Nikkatsu on Suzuki's behalf. Though he was unable to make theatrical films for a decade following the incident, Suzuki continued working in television and re-emerged as an independent art house filmmaker in the 1980s, and his work began to get recognition both from critics in Japan and at film festivals abroad.

We will be presenting two of Suzuki's most experimental films from his late Nikkatsu period, Tokyo Drifter and Carmen from Kawachi  (both from 1966), as well as one of his most celebrated later independent films, Kagero-za (1981), based on the work of the early-20th Century Gothic writer Izumi Kyōka. The screenings of Carmen from Kawachi and Kagero-za will be introduced by William Carroll, author of Suzuki Seijun and Postwar Japanese Cinema.