AW: Japanese women directors

Roland Domenig roland.domenig
Sat Dec 23 05:46:05 EST 2006

A much overlooked field in which female directors are active in Japan is the sexploitation film, which up until the 1990s seems to have offered more opportunities for female directors than the regular feature film. This could be ascribed to the marginality of the genre, where one can see a parallel with experimental film and documentary film, the other two fields in which female directors were less scarce and some highly successful. I know of more than a dozen female directors of pink film. Many of them were also actresses and one shot wonders, but there have also been highly prolific directors such as Hamano Sachi, Tama Rumi or more recently Yoshiyuki Yumi. Hamano has since 1972 directed more than 200 (she herself claims 300) pink films under her own name as well as under the pseudonym Tekiba Chise - in her heydays she churned out more than a dozen films per year - Tama Rumi (wife of Kimata Akitaka and mother of Izumi Seiji who both were also successful pink directors) around 80 and Yoshiyuki Yumi 14 films so far. One can argue about the quality of the films. Hamano claims that her films differ from those of male pink directors because of her different approach towards female sexuality and their "feminine visuality". I can't detect this difference, however, but think that many of her films just serviced the male audience. I at least don't see in the fact that the woman is on top a sign of feminine sensitivity or gender awareness. More interesting than Hamano is Yoshiyuki, who indeed brings in a female subjectivity to a genre regarded by many as misogynic. Sidenote: many female pink directors are (accidentally?) directing films for a gay audience.             

Iran is an interesting case for comparison. So is China. Huang Shuqin, Peng Xiaolin, Hu Mei, Wang Junzheng, Wang Xiao-Yen, Wang Haowei, Zhang Nuanxin, Li Shaohong, Ning Ying and many other female directors play/played an important role for Chinese cinema. 

Roland Domenig
Institute of East Asian Studies
Vienna University  

Aaron wrote:

> As for women directors, I think Tim's initial suggestion calls for
> films from any era, not just new ones. Any candidates there?

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...

The Iran case is interesting--I've yet to see an Iranian film by a  
female director, but I've enjoyed very much the (small) handful of  
Iranian films I've seen. One thing I'm interested in in this thread is  
whether KineJapaners notice any visual differences in the approaches  
taken by men or women in handling character development or diegesis...  
Is there such a thing as a "feminine visuality" or "female voyeurism"?


Tim Iles
University of Victoria

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