High Shares Touching Tales in Contemporary Japanese Film Series
ATLANTA, February 5, 2009 – The High Museum of Art presents Reel Life: True Stories from Contemporary Japan, from February 14 through February 28, 2009. The series features three Japanese films, including the critically acclaimed “Hula Girls.” The festival is co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta.
“The High Museum is pleased to share these touching stories of Japanese life with its audiences,” says Linda Dubler, Curator of Media Arts. “Though I did not set out to put together a series based on real stories, after I selected the acclaimed films in this program, I was struck by the fact that all were inspired by actual events. When filmmakers base their scripts on real stories, it’s often true that the resulting works vividly mirror the times in which they unfold. Reel Life: True Stories From Contemporary Japan reflects this tendency through a trio films that mix humor and drama in a bittersweet way. Truth and fiction meet, and the result makes for memorable cinema.”
The series opens on Saturday, February 14, with Shosuke Murakami’s “Train Man,” a romantic comedy based on a true story. The film centers on a shy 22-year-old who lives with his parents and spends his leisure time on the internet. While riding the subway one night, he saves an attractive young woman from the harassment of a drunken businessman. To express her gratitude, the woman sends him an expensive Hermès tea set. Smitten but clueless, the young man turns to his online chatroom circle. They advise an extreme makeover, coach him through Romance 101 and help him find the confidence to step out of the virtual world into the real one. New York Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis says “Train Man” is “candy-colored and wide-eyed . . . an unashamedly heart-struck movie . . . directed with touching tenderness.” This film is in Japanese with subtitles.
On Saturday, February 21, the series continues with “Hula Girls.” The film is set in 1965 in the northern town of Joban. The town’s coal mining industry is in recession and local leaders propose transforming Joban into a tourist destination to generate jobs. Their plan to open a Hawaiian- themed spa and resort in chilly Joban is embraced only by a handful of young women who, in defiance of modesty and propriety, show up at an open casting for hula dancers. Under the guidance of a sophisticated dance instructor from Tokyo, the clumsy country girls blossom and become the unlikely leaders of their community’s renaissance. Based on a true story, “Hula Girls” was praised by the Toronto Film Festival’s catalogue as a “vivid, heartfelt portrait . . . a genuinely moving experience destined to conquer the audience’s heart.” This film is in Japanese with subtitles.
The series closes on Saturday, February 28, with director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Nobody Knows.” This is a rare film that successfully tells its tale of childhood from the childrens’ points of view. Inspired by real events, four kids aged four to twelve are abandoned in a Tokyo apartment by their flighty mother. When she leaves behind cash and a note saying that she’ll be gone for awhile, the eldest child takes charge. None of children has ever attended school and they’re used to amusing themselves indoors, but being completely on their own is very different. The Austin Chronicle’s Marjorie Baumgarten says, “Their predicament is sad although the film is not. Kore-eda captures the irrepressible joys and frivolity of youth, while also showing the benign neglect of the outside world. . . . A gem-like work whose facets gleam and slice through the story with ever-changing glints of understanding and compassion.” This film is in Japanese with subtitles.
Film Series Schedule
Unless otherwise noted, all films begin at 8 p.m. and are screened in the Richard H. Rich Theatre. The theatre is located in the Memorial Arts Building, adjacent to the High at Peachtree and 15th Streets in midtown Atlanta (MARTA stop N5.).
Saturday, February 14
(Japan, 2005, 101 min.)
Saturday, Feburary 21
(Japan, 2006, 108 min.)
Saturday, February 28
(Japan, 2004, 140 min.)
This program is co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta. 35mm projection facilities in the Rich Auditorium were provided by a gift from George Lefont.
To purchase tickets in advance go to www.High.org, visit the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office or call 404-733-5000. Tickets for all shows are $7 general admission and $6 for students, seniors and Museum members. Patron-level members enter free. Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the night of the screening.
The public may call the High’s film hotline at 404-733-4570 for up-to-the-minute information about visiting directors, receptions, changes or cancellations and for a free subscription to the quarterly film calendar.
The High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 11,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s Media Arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.high.org.
The High Museum of Art is a division of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, which also includes the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Young Audiences and the 14th Street Playhouse.
# # #
DIGITAL IMAGES FOR THE FILMS ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST