20.09.2023 / 13:57
Japanese Film Icon Ozu Yasujiro (Finally) Set to Receive a Full-Scale Tribute in Tokyo
Patrick Frater Asia Bureau Chief Ozu Yasujiro, the leading Japanese film director behind classics including “Tokyo Story” and “Late Spring,” has had his double birth and death anniversaries – Ozu died in 1963 on the day of his 60th birthday, a little more than a year after the release of his last film “An Autumn Afternoon” – celebrated throughout 2023 at places as varied as the Cannes Film Festival, Los Angeles’ Margaret Herrick Library and the Taiwan Film & Audiovisual Institute. But it falls to October’s Tokyo International Film Festival to put on this year’s biggest and most comprehensive reconstruction of Ozu’s surprisingly varied career. Working in conjunction with the National Film Archive of Japan, the festival will present an extensive retrospective that covers almost all the films that Ozu directed (TIFF/NFAJ Classics: Ozu Yasujiro Week) from Oct. 24-29. Ozu spent his entire career, from camera assistant in 1923 to renown director in 1962, as an employee of major Japanese studio Shochiku, with all the advantages and disadvantages such an arrangement brought. While Ozu is best known for his stripped-down dramas, often centered on family relationships, sometimes troubled or contentious, involving parents and young or grown-up children, many hinging on questions of marriage, generational misunderstandings or the loneliness of the elderly, the director’s register may not entirely have been of his own choosing. “The apparent consistency of the post-war films surely owes as much to this production situation as to Ozu’s aesthetic choices,” wrote critic Tony Rayns in a recent Sight & Sound portrait.