Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors

December 3—23, 2021

Highlighting the early efforts of now-established contemporary filmmakers, the second ACA Cinema Project series Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors takes an intimate look at six of Japan’s most well-known directors: Naomi Kawase, Miwa Nishikawa, Shuichi Okita, Junji Sakamoto, Akihiko Shiota and Masayuki Suo. Pairing each debut with a recent work, the series presents two distinct facets of each filmmaker’s career—encouraging dialogue and interplay as well as tracking the development of their signature voice. By drawing parallels and contrasts between past and present, Flash Forward illuminates the importance of these pivotal early works within each artist’s career. Co-presented by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, in collaboration with Visual Industry Promotion Organization.



Tickets: $15 / $10 members

2-Film Pass: Purchase tickets for both films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket

Members: November 11
General Public: November 15


Rentals: $10 for 3-day rental
(Available for purchase starting December 3)

All-Access Pass: $55 for all online films (Available for purchase November 15-December 2 only)

Buy Now

Members: 20% off via promo code
Not a member? Join today!

View the full lineup of our in-person and online screenings below.

In-Person Screenings

All in-person screenings will take place in Japan Society’s auditorium, located at 333 E. 47th Street in New York, NY. Please note: Visitor safety is our top priority. All attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear a proper mask at all times while inside our building. Please be sure to review Japan Society's safety and health policies here.

Focus on Sadao Yamanaka

Japan Society is proud to present a focus on two of the last three surviving works by master filmmaker Sadao Yamanaka, beautifully restored in 4K. A contemporary of Ozu and Naruse, Yamanaka died at the age of 28, leaving behind a small but acclaimed body of work. Imbued with an impassioned humanism, Yamanaka’s innate storytelling abilities—which shift effortlessly between comedy, drama and tragedy—helped modernize the jidaigeki, crafting entire living communities that laugh, drink and suffer in an everyman’s world.

In collaboration with the National Film Archive of Japan.


Great Yokai War Tange Sazen and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo (Longest Version)
1935. 94 min. Directed by Sadao Yamanaka.

N.A. Premiere of 4K Restoration. A sought-after pot purported to hold the secret to the whereabouts of a million ryo fortune is unwittingly given to a young boy who finds himself in the care of a gruff, one-armed, one-eyed ronin after tragedy strikes.

Saturday, December 11 at 7 pm


Aristocrats Priest of Darkness
1936. 82 min. Directed by Sadao Yamanaka.

Int’l Premiere of 4K Restoration. A troublemaker finds himself embroiled in a prickly ordeal when he steals a samurai’s knife—setting in motion a domino-effect of bad fortune.

Friday, December 17 at 7 pm


Online Screenings

Films listed below stream online December 3-23 at film.japansociety.org.

Debut Works and Recent Films (Online)

The Chef of South Polar The Chef of South Polar
2009. 125 min. Directed by Shuichi Okita.

A passionate cook joins a crew of scientists for a year and a half in a frigid Antarctic base. In this quirky and humorous tale of camaraderie, the crew must endure a series of major and minor setbacks as they make a home themselves in some of the most extreme and inhospitable regions of the polar south.


Fancy Dance Fancy Dance
1989. 101 min. Directed by Masayuki Suo.

A punk rocker’s life turns upside down when, as per family tradition, he must join a monastic order for one year—leaving his city life and girlfriend behind for a remote, mountain temple in this farcical and humorous approach to the monastic lifestyle.


Farewell Song Farewell Song
2019. 116 min. Directed by Akihiko Shiota.

A popular folk duo, barely on speaking terms, embarks on one last turbulent tour with their roadie before calling it quits for good.


Knockout Harmful Insect
2002. 92 min. Directed by Akihiko Shiota.

NEW! An alienated 13-year old tries to navigate the murky waters of adolescence amid the failure of adult guidance and increasingly traumatic circumstances of her life.


Knockout Knockout
1989. 110 min. Directed by Junji Sakamoto.

A macho pro boxer puts his life on the line for another chance at boxing glory following a shattering setback from a traumatic brain injury.


The Long Excuse The Long Excuse
2016. 124 min. Directed by Miwa Nishikawa.

Popular novelist Sachio loses his wife in an accident but feels a resounding apathy. After Sachio connects with the family of his wife’s best friend (another victim of the tragedy), he begins to absorb the intangible emotional turbulence that remains in the void of loss.


Moonlight Whispers Moonlight Whispers
1999. 97 min. Directed by Akihiko Shiota.

Unfortunately, this film is no longer available.

Ora, Ora Be Goin’ Alone Ora, Ora Be Goin’ Alone
2020. 137 min. Directed by Shuichi Okita.

A whimsical and gentle meditation on a long-lived life, Ora Ora follows elderly Momoko as she deals with loneliness in the aftermath of her husband’s death—playfully dipping between past and present in director Shuichi Okita’s typical offbeat style.


The Projects The Projects
2016. 103 min. Directed by Junji Sakamoto.

An elderly couple move into a suburban housing project six months after closing their herbal medicine shop, but when one of them goes missing, fantastical rumors start to spread in this absurdist, multi-genre comedy.


Suzaku Suzaku
1997. 95 min. Directed by Naomi Kawase.

In Naomi Kawase’s stunning Camera d’or-winning debut, a teenage girl and her family struggle to overcome tragedy in a depressed mountainside town.


Talking the Pictures Talking the Pictures
2019. 126 min. Directed by Masayuki Suo.

A charming and comedic love letter to Japan’s silent movie era that follows an aspiring benshi (silent film narrator) as he tries to save a movie house while also running from the law.


Wild Berries Wild Berries
2003. 108 min. Directed by Miwa Nishikawa.

The debut feature of Miwa Nishikawa, Wild Berries delivers a comically cynical portrait of a dysfunctional family at the precipice of disintegration.


Vision Vision
2018. 110 min. Directed by Naomi Kawase.

A fabled herb powerful enough to cure all sufferings of the human spirit draws a French journalist to the fog-enshrouded forests of Nara Prefecture.


Free Talks (Online)

Available Worldwide.

Flash Forward: Conversations with the Filmmakers

Directors Naomi Kawase, Miwa Nishikawa, Shuichi Okita, Junji Sakamoto, Akihiko Shiota and Masayuki Suo reflect on their filmmaking debuts and the changes in the filmmaking process and industry since their early careers.

Panel Discussion: Debut Works and Beyond

In this unique conversation moderated by Aaron Gerow (Yale University), panelists Takuya Tsunoda (Columbia University), Junko Yamazaki (UCLA) and Jasper Sharp (Arrow Films) discuss the six Flash Forward directors and their films while also delving into the cultural background and film industry at the time of each director's debut.

Filmmakers on the Rise (Online)

All films are free to stream December 3-23 at film.japansociety.org.

Note: Sixth film in Filmmakers on the Rise slate to be announced at a later date.

The Albino’s Tree The Albino’s Trees
2016. 86 min. Directed by Masakazu Kaneko.

An animal control hunter takes on a lucrative opportunity to kill a rare white deer, considered to be a god by the neighboring village. Free.


lue Hour Blue Hour
2019. 92 min. Directed by Yuko Hakota.

In this impressive debut from writer/director Yuko Hakota, a personally and professionally frustrated Tokyo dweller travels to her rural hometown of Ibaraki with her best friend and unlocks repressed memories. Free.


A Boy Sato A Boy Sato
2017. 15 min. Directed by Omoi Sasaki.

Sato returns one day to the home he once knew and meets up with an old friend in this sci-fi inflected short. Free.


Forgiven Children Forgiven Children
2020. 131 min. Directed by Eisuke Naito.

A raw and unsettling account of teen bullying and delinquency, Forgiven Children takes inspiration from real-life juvenile cases in Japan, presenting an unfiltered view on a bullying incident gone awry. Free.


Jesus Jesus
2019. 76 min. Directed by Hiroshi Okuyama.

A highly original, oddball debut that focuses on a quiet boy who attends a Christian elementary school and begins to see a six-inch Jesus. Free.


My Atomic Aunt My Atomic Aunt
2013. 73 min. Directed by Kyoko Miyake.

Director Kyoko Miyake returns home to Japan to visit Namie, the sleepy coastal town of her youth, in the wake of 3/11, documenting her Aunt Kyoko and her struggle to move on from the loss of her home, now in a forbidden zone. Free.


Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors is co-presented by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Visual Industry Promotion Organization.

Bunkacho        VIPO

Japan Society Film programs are generously supported by ORIX Corporation USA, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund. Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, Masako H. Shinn, David Toberisky, Akiko Koide and Shohei Koide, Geoff and Fumi Matters, Laurel Gonsalves, David S. Howe, and Masu Hiroshi Masuyama. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the exclusive Japanese airline sponsor of Japan Society Film.


Japan Airlines