Kinuyo Tanaka
Kinuyo Tanaka

The Locarno Film Festival offered a sneak preview of the upcoming 73rd edition of the festival including the 2020 Festival poster, the Retrospective which will be dedicated for the first time to a woman, the Japanese filmmaker and actress Kinuyo Tanaka and a new collaboration starts with SWISS FILMS. The 73rd Locarno Film Festival will take place from August 5 to 15, 2020.

For the first time a woman will be the subject of this year’s Retrospective at the 73rd Locarno Film Festival, the director and actress Kinuyo Tanaka (1909 –1977). Through screenings of her complete filmography as director, plus a selection from the over 250 films in which she acted, the event will attempt to shed light on “one of the best-kept secrets” of the history of Japanese cinema: the little-known auteur work behind the camera of an acting star whose career spanned fifty years of the nation’s history, included collaborations with some of the great masters of the golden age of Japanese cinema and introduced a new female gaze to filmmaking.

Lili Hinstin, Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival, commented: “This is the first time that the Festival will be dedicating its Retrospective to a female director – after 73 years. On the one hand this undoubtedly reflects a process of growing collective awareness over the past two years – the issue of how women are represented is now of crucial importance in both cultural and economic terms. At the same time, we may well ask how on earth such an original and exciting filmography as Tanaka’s has been so little shown and studied until now. Starting from the 6 films directed by Kinuyo Tanaka, this will be an opportunity to explore another experience of the filmic gaze – whether female, feminist, or just personal.”

Kinuyo Tanaka rose quickly to become an enormously popular young actress in Japan. Her roles chart the course of changes in society and in the feminine condition from the 1920s through the 1970s. Initially, under contract as a female lead to Shochiku – one of Japan’s greatest studios, whose film department happens to be celebrating its centenary year in 2020 – she worked with the best-known “modernist” directors such as Heinosuke Gosho, Yasujiro Ozu and Hiroshi Shimizu. Later, in the immediate post-War years and the 1950s, her striking screen presence became a hallmark of some of the best work by directors of the golden age of Japanese cinema, including, Keisuke Kinoshita, Mikio Naruse and Kaneto Shindo; she also renewed her collaboration with Ozu, but it was above all with Kenji Mizoguchi, for whom she appeared in 15 films, that she established a remarkable artistic partnership, culminating in the masterpiece Saikaku ichidai onna (The Life of Oharu, 1952). During this period Tanaka increasingly affirmed her artistic independence, going behind the camera to direct a number of films of her own with various studios. A true pioneer of cinema – she was only the second woman to direct a film in Japan – Tanaka built up her career along similar lines to Ida Lupino, the Hollywood actress who moved into directing around the same time. Unlike Lupino’s output, however, the work of Tanaka, which includes six films that provide innovative portraits of women’s roles and conditions in the changing social environment of modern Japan, remains very much to be rediscovered. The Retrospective therefore aims to bring Tanaka’s surprising and impassioned filmography as both actress and director before a wider public, tracing its development from the silent era to the golden age and featuring both major classics and rarely seen works. Taken together, these films reveal a highly personal, groundbreaking gaze.

Roberto Turigliatto, curator of the Locarno Film Festival Retrospective, noted that: “Following on from the Japan-themed Retrospectives dedicated to Akira Kurosawa (1957), Yasujiro Ozu (1979), Mikio Naruse (1983), Keisuke Kinoshita (1986) and the Manga universe (2009), the Locarno Film Festival returns to explore one of the richest and most fascinating of world cinemas.”

73rd Locarno Film Festival Poster
73rd Locarno Film Festival Poster

Once again, for its 73rd edition, the Locarno Film Festival turned to Jannuzzi Smith for a new image to feature on its posters. The lead role this year goes to words, as designer Michele Jannuzzi explained: “Every film contains words that exist for just a few seconds. Words spoken by actors and actresses; phrases glimpsed on buildings along a street or printed on an extra’s T-shirt; titles, subtitles and credits. Taken together, those words form an identifying code unique to every film. From 1946 until today the Locarno Film Festival itself has built up its very own enormous, multi-lingual dictionary.” Which is why letters will provide the source code for the inevitable emergence of the leopard: “For the poster of the 73rd Festival we will be using the titles from films featured in past editions to create a typographical web that will come together – as if by magic – to shape the iconic yellow and black leopard that is the identity of the Locarno Film Festival”.

The Locarno Film Festival will be hosting for the first time the SWISS FILMS Previews. During the Locarno Pro days (August 6 – 11), SWISS FILMS will present a selection of Swiss works in progress to domestic and international film industry attendees at the Festival, providing them with an overview of the most interesting films currently being made in the country. The films’ producers will be able to show sequences or trailers as part of the process of meeting industry players from all over the world, opening the door to possible collaborations and enhancing the visibility of Swiss product.

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