Japanese women directors

Aaron Gerow aaron.gerow
Fri Dec 22 22:12:44 EST 2006

On 2006.12.23, at 11:10  AM, tim.iles at utoronto.ca wrote:

> Personally, I'd be _very_ surprised if there were any female directors 
> of note before the 1960s... Even though--for example--there were very 
> good female novelists in the 1930s, mostly left-wing, I can't see 
> women having the same access to the technology needed to make films 
> that men had. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though...

With pre-1960, one is left with very few choices. In fiction film, 
there is basically just Tanaka Kinuyo (Koibumi seems to be the one that 
is shown the most these days). I've only seen three of her six films, 
but I was never too impressed with her work. Still, they are worth a 
look. There are many more women directors in non-fiction film (Atsugi 
Taka, Haneda Sumiko, Tokieda Toshie, etc.), with many classic works 
(Haneda and Tokieda are featured in the recent Dokyumentari eiga wa 
kataru book). There were also directors in TV, like Senbon Yoshiko, who 
just made her feature film debut at age 78 with Akai kujira to shiroi 

Things don't get much better until the 1990s with feature film, but 
there is a lot of work in the 1970s and 1980s from experimental 
filmmakers like Idemitsu Mako and Koguchi Utako worth viewing.

After 1990, there are many more feature films directed by women, but a 
lot are one shot wonders. Still, here are some of my favorites:

Kawase Naomi, Shiroi tsuki / White Moon (an 8mm film, but I still think 
it is one of her best fiction films)
Kazama Shiori, Kasei no kanon / The Mars Canon (this was my number one 
film of that year for Eigei)
Shindo Kaze, Love/Juice (a really nice, small film, though her second 
feature Korogare Tamako was disappointing)
Iguchi Nami, Inu neko (there is an 8mm and a 35mm version, both of 
which are good)
Wada Junko, Body Drop Asphalt (I liked her experimental films as well, 
and this is a good feature debut)
Ogigami Naoko, Kamome shokudo (there were a lot of films by women 
directors this year, but this was my favorite)

Aaron Gerow
Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University
53 Wall Street, Room 316
PO Box 208363
New Haven, CT 06520-8363
Phone: 1-203-432-7082
Fax: 1-203-432-6764
e-mail: aaron.gerow at yale.edu

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