Anthology Film Archives


November 15 – November 21

“I’d like to destroy this premise that cinema is fiction.” – Shôhei Imamura

One of the greatest filmmakers of postwar Japanese (or, for that matter, world) cinema, Shôhei Imamura spent more than four decades turning out a steady stream of astoundingly fearless, inventive, mischievous films, gleefully breaking taboos of all kinds – political, social, sexual, and aesthetic. His films – including masterpieces like THE INSECT WOMAN, THE PORNOGRAPHERS, and VENGEANCE IS MINE – are populated by a constellation of perverts, serial killers, madmen, and eccentrics, adding up to an incisive, unvarnished, but vital portrait of Japanese society. Imamura’s disregard for propriety or conventions, and his unceasing appetite for investigating and depicting Japanese society, resulted in a refusal to limit himself to fiction or documentary filmmaking, or to acknowledge a sharp distinction between the two. Throughout his career he moved fluidly from one to the other, ultimately making numerous documentaries on a host of subjects. And in some of these films, he happily blurred the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, pioneering the hybrid form that is very much in vogue today.

Thanks to Icarus Films, six of Imamura’s greatest documentaries, none of which have ever seen theatrical release in the United States, are now in distribution here. We are pleased to present all six, anchored by a week-long run of the 1967 masterpiece, THE MAN VANISHES, screening from a 16mm print provided by the Japan Foundation! (For more information on THE MAN VANISHES, click here.)

Co-organized with the Japan Foundation. Special thanks to Jonathan Miller, Livia Bloom & Colin Beckett (Icarus Films), and to Kanako Shirasaki, Grant Tompkins & Yukihiro Ohira (Japan Foundation).

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