ICA – East Side Stories: Japanese Cinema Exploring Youth Culture

ICA – East Side Stories: Japanese Cinema Exploring Youth Culture

Buried somewhere deep inside our primal lizard brains there is a part of us all that is drawn to youth: a subject whose hold on our attention is only surpassed by its sidekick, beauty. Good thing, then, that ICA will be feeding our insatiable appetites for all things youthful throughout the next month, as they present a series of Japanese films whose common theme is just that: youth and youth culture in modern Japan.  The selection on offer includes an array of comedies and dramas, old films and new, live-action and animé.

Following on from the success of last year's Once Upon a Time in Japan, Eastside Stories will feature work on the subject of youth from directors such as the legendary Yasujiro Ozu and New Wave visionary Nagisa Oshima. If your appetite needs any more whetting, there will also be a series of Q&A sessions with the contemporary Japanese filmmakers Keiichi Hara and Hitoshi Ohne, as well as actor Mirai Moriyama.

The films, whose genre is known in Japan as ‘Seishun Eiga’ (literally ‘youth movies’), warrant obvious comparison to the more pronounceable ‘coming-of-age’ genre that we are so familiar with in the West.  Though the backdrop of the films may be exotic, the minutiae of what it’s like to be caught between childhood and adulthood are sure to resonate.

Expect plenty of the oxymoronic combinations that are characteristic of teenagers: zealousness and inertia, naivety and self-assuredness. Questions of personal identity abound, just don’t expect too many answers.

In an age when our received view of youth culture still owes so much to America (James Dean and Marlon Brando, I’m looking at you), the opportunity to kick around with some teenagers on completely the other side of the planet can only be an exciting one. And one not to be missed.

The Japan Foundation Touring Programme 2014 runs at the ICA from Friday 31st January to February 6th  and nationwide until 27th March.

(main image: The Drudgery Train © 2012 Nobuhiro Yamashita)


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