WUSTL film series focuses on young starlets of Japanese cinema

Four films shown between Sept. 24 and Nov. 5

Frustration, friendship, struggle, joy, anguish and love are among the emotions explored by some of Japan’s most talented young actresses as the Young Starlets in Japanese Cinema film festival debuts at Washington University in St. Louis Saturday, Sept. 24, through Saturday, Nov. 5.

Free and open to the public, the series sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures, and the Program in Film & Media Studies, both in Arts & Sciences, and the Japan Foundation Film Series. All films are in Japanese with English subtitles.

Each screening begins at 7 p.m. in the Room 100 auditorium of Brown Hall, located near the intersection of Forysth Boulevard and Hoyt Drive on the Danforth Campus.

The fall schedule:

Sept. 24 Harmful Insect (2002) 92 minutes

Sachiko (Miyazaki Aoi), a junior high school girl, is determined to choose her own way of life amidst the cruel tricks of fate, even if this isolates her from her environment. Affected by the commotion surrounding her mother’s suicide attempt, she loses touch with her classmates. She no longer goes to school and wanders the streets, spending her time as she pleases. When she returns to school troubles await her there. Winner: Special Jury Award; the Best Actress Award, 2001 Festival des 3 Continents.
Director: Shiota Akihiko.

Oct. 8 Yunagi City, Sakura Country (2007) 118 minutes

Set in the summer of 1958 in Hiroshima, a young woman, Minami, who survived the atomic bomb, is haunted by the death of her sister who did not. Every time Minami is about to enjoy life she hears the screams of her dead sister. Fast forward to the summer of 2007. Nanami, the daughter of Minami’s brother, has no idea about her father’s past or the existence of her late aunts, but she finds out about them when she follows her father to Hiroshima, suspicious of his unusual behavior.
Director: Sasabe Kiyoshi.

Oct. 22 Kamikaze Girls (2004) 103 minutes.

Momoko (Fukada Kyoko) escapes from the boredom of life in her rural hometown by swathing herself from head to toe in doll-like “Lolita” garb. One day she meets her diametrical opposite on the fashion scale, the surly black lipstick biker-chick Ichigo (Tsuchiya Anna, winner of a 2005 Japan Academy Prize for best newcomer), who takes a liking to Momoko’s unexpectedly gutsy nature and the two form an unlikely alliance. Described as a mildly surreal, frenetically comic journey into Japan’s youth subcultures.
Director: Nakashima Tetsuya.

Nov. 5 One Million Yen Girl (2008) 121 minutes

At age 21, junior college graduate Suzuko is involved in an incident that leads to her getting arrested and leaves her with a criminal record. Deciding she wants to get away from her family and their gossiping neighbors, she begins traveling from town to town, working menial jobs until she saves up one million yen (enough to get situated in the next place, she figures). She does her best to move on before anyone really gets to know her, but when she falls for a co-worker, her life once again gets complicated.
Director: Yuki Tanada

For more information, visit the department’s event web site at ealc.wustl.edu/events or call (314) 935-4448.