SUZUKI Seijun Retrospective Tour Recap

Just when you thought it was gonna be over, Suzuki drops one of the sickest saloon brawl scenes of all time! Seeing it in 35mm was a delight! I love this movie!

Greg, “Tokyo Drifter” at Metro Cinema (Edmonton)

It’s hard to put into words how much I’ve enjoyed the Seijun Suzuki retrospective here in Vancouver. Tonight, I had the opportunity to check out 1966’s Carmen from Kawachi on an imported 35mm print from Japan. Finding this film is apparently hard to come by, so I consider myself lucky.

Marta, “Carmen from Kawachi” at The Cinematheque (Vancouver)

As we begin to wind down an eventful 2023 of JFT film programming, we want to take a moment to recap this past year’s Canada-wide SUZUKI Seijun Retrospective Tour, in celebration of the iconic cult filmmaker’s centennial.

The SUZUKI Seijun Retrospective Tour journeyed through five major Canadian cities with reputable cinema venues in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Starting in April at Edmonton’s Metro Cinema, the tour concluded September at The Cinematheque in Vancouver.

Absolutely amazing final act. The Kabuki theatre scenes were brilliantly executed and made me feel vertigo and a lingering creepiness.

Daniel, “Kagero-za” at The Cinematheque (Vancouver)

How did I not know that Seijun Suzuki made a movie about a female golfer turned media celebrity turned depressed blackmail victim?…If these Japan Foundation prints swing through your town, be sure to check as many of them out as you can, but definitely this one.

Jeff, “A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness” at TIFF POP Japan (Toronto)

The tour highlighted six films from SUZUKI Seijun’s body of work, presented in film screenings of rare 35mm prints. Curated by Dr. William Carroll, the author of Suzuki Seijun and Postwar Japanese Cinema and Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Alberta, these films were carefully selected to offer a representative sample of the filmmaker’s eclectic career.

  • A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness 悲愁物語 (1977)
  • Carmen from Kawachi 河内カルメン (1966)
  • Kagero-za 陽炎座 (1981)
  • Love Letter (1959)
  • Satan’s Town 悪魔の街 (1956)
  • Tokyo Drifter 東京流れ者 (1966)

All 35mm prints were imported from the Film Library of the Japan Foundation’s Tokyo headquarters.

Photo credit: Jeremy Sandler, @picjerphoto
TIFF POP Japan Reception.
Photo credit: Jeremy Sandler, @picjerphoto

Kicking off in Edmonton on April 8th with a double-bill of Satan’s Town and Love Letter at Metro Cinema, Dr. Carroll graciously provided introductions before each screening, with University of Alberta just a short walk away.

The tour then moved to Toronto, where the six Suzuki films were a part of the larger “POP Japan” showcase hosted by the TIFF Cinematheque at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. POP Japan celebrated the convergence of the cult, the pulp, and the popular in Japanese cinema through their three film series: Seijun Suzuki, World of Anime, and Miyazaki Spotlight.

The Cinematheque, Vancouver, BC

Next, the retrospective visited Montreal at the historic Cinematheque Québécois followed by Winnipeg at the David Barber Cinematheque, both presenting the six Suzuki films to local cinephile communities with short runs.

The final stop of the tour was in Vancouver at The Cinematheque, featuring an expanded lineup of twelve SUZUKI Seijun films, six additional to Dr. Carroll’s original six, providing a fitting conclusion to the tour.

The SUZUKI Seijun Retrospective Tour attracted a total of 2371 attendees from 28 film screenings across five reputable cinematic venues in major Canadian cities. The success of the tour underscores the continued passion for post-war Japanese cinema among cinephiles across the country. Even 100 years after Suzuki’s birth, the interest in films remains vibrant, with his artistic legacy standing strong and unshaken.

David Barber Cinematheque, Winnipeg, MB

To compliment the tour, we also invited Dr. Carroll to host an online video lecture introducing SUZUKI Seijun’s body of work to newer audiences. You can still watch this lecture (and Q&A) on the JFT Youtube Channel, originally published in May and was made available everywhere throughout the retrospective tour.

In conclusion, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all five participating venues for making the SUZUKI Seijun Retrospective Tour a success! Finally, a special thank you to the Film Library of the Japan Foundation’s Tokyo Headquarters for providing the six invaluable 35mm prints.

I like a lot of his 50s and 60s stuff quite a bit, but Suzuki came out of the blacklist on a whole new level. Just fantastic.

Sean, “A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness” at David Barber Cinematheque (Winnipeg)

Troisième film de Suzuki, un film de gangster assez classique où par intermittence il laisse présager le futur grand cinéaste qu’il deviendra.

Pascal, “Satan’s Town” at Cinematheque Québécois (Montreal)