Festival News


A tribute to victims and survivors of 2011 earthquake and tsunami

With the support of the Consulate General of Japan at Denver and the Japan Foundation, the 2nd Annual Focus on Japanese Cinema, Art, & Culture will play to audiences as a part of the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF34), presented by the Denver Film Society (DFS). 


Originally scheduled for early May 2011, the Focus on Japanese Cinema was postponed due to the catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the northern coast of Japan in late March.


"The eyes of the world were quickly and appropriately turned toward emergency assistance and relief efforts in Japan earlier this year," said Brit Withey, SDFF artistic director. "Given the circumstances this past year has presented, we're very proud that we can help honor the victims and survivors by showcasing the extraordinary contributions to world cinema from the recovering island nation."


The 12-day film celebration will feature Japanese films including:


The Ballad of Narayama

Japan, 1983, 130 min. Shôhei Imamura's 1983 drama about self-sacrifice, survival, and the brutal harmonies of life in a 19th- century Japanese village features one of the great screen performances: Sumiko Sakamoto is a flinty matriarch who, like all villagers at age 70, must climb holy Mount Narayama and die alone.


Food and the Maiden

Japan, 2010, 75 min. From first-time Japanese writer-director Minoru Kurimura comes this simultaneously haunting and charming exploration of the neuroses surrounding nourishment. Three interweaving plots show how the main characters' troubles are as much about relationships as mealtimes.


Ghost in the Shell

Japan, 1995, 83 min. Seamlessly merging traditional cel animation with the latest in computer-graphic technology, this stunning sci-fi spectacle broke ground in 1995 with its emphasis on detailed artistic expression and a storyline of unprecedented complexity.



Japan, 2010, 95 min. Koji Fukada's delightful Hospitalité tells the story of a man who turns the quiet life of the Kobayashi family upside down when he comes to work in their print shop. Not merely an outrageous farce, the film also smartly explores-and critiques-many Japanese cultural norms.


Record Future

Japan, 2010, 93 min. With roots in the Japanese theater, Kentaro Kishi makes his cinematic debut with this dreamlike narrative that examines the connections between past, present, and future through the eyes of characters Sachi and Osamu, who dream of running their own schoolhouse.   



Japan, 1989, 135 min. In Hiroshi Teshigahara's Rikyu, a shogun wants to learn the tea ceremony. He's a warrior, a man of politics and ambition-and for him, the ceremony is just one more thing to conquer. Unfortunately for the shogun, though, its performance demands a whole new set of skills.


The Makioka Sisters

Japan, 1983, 140 min. The fading fortunes of the titular siblings take center stage in Kon Ichikawa's 1983 adaptation of Junichiro Tanizaki's acclaimed novel. It's 1938, and the Makiokas seek to marry off Yukiko while struggling with familial conflict and relinquishing their hold on the past.



Japan, 2011, 75 min. Shot in Paris by Japanese filmmaker Haruka Motoi, this quiet character study centers on the bond women forge in overcoming life's hardships. After walking out on her boyfriend, the titular character faces surprise upon surprise as she tries to make her way in the foreign city of lights.


For a complete listing of times and locations of featured Japanese films:



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