Japanese studio Shochiku is planning a ten-city retrospective to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Keisuke Kinoshita, whose digitally restored The Ballad Of Narayama is screening in Cannes Classics.
Starting in June, around 20 Kinoshita films will screen in the cities of Sao Paolo and Curitiba in Brazil, followed by the Summer International Film Festival in Hong Kong in August, New York’s Lincoln Centre and Tokyo Filmex in November, and Melbourne in early 2013.
Shochiku is also lining up a Blu-ray release of The Ballad Of Narayama in Japan in October. The 1958 film, which screened at the Venice film festival, is based on a story about an elderly woman who faces being abandoned by her family due to social traditions. The story was also adapted by Imamura Shohei who won the Palme d’Or for his version in 1983.
The studio selected The Ballad Of Narayama for restoration due to its technical and artistic significance – it deployed elements from Kabuki and Bunraku theatre and was the first Japanese feature film shot on Fuji colour negative.
“It was made at the pinnacle of the studio system – it would be almost impossible to make something on the same scale today, as it was filmed almost entirely on 40 large sets,” explained Shochiku’s Ichiro Yamamoto.
The 4K restoration was supervised by the original assistant cameraman Ryuichiro Kiyatake and sound designer Ryuji Matsumoto.
Shochiku, which aims to restore one classic from its library each year, has already restored Kinoshita’s Twenty-Four Eyes, which won a Golden Globe in 1955, Yoshitaro Nomura’s The Castle Of Sand, Yoji Yamada’s The Yellow Handkerchief and Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story.
MK2 has French rights for the restored version of The Ballad Of Narayama and Trigon has Swiss and German rights.