Yoshitarô Nomura (1919 – 2005) is highly revered as a leading filmmaker in his home country of Japan, and will be given international acclaim at the 20th edition of the Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF), held in partnership with Virgin Media, running from 27 March to 6 April. The programme of a body of his work, The Crime Films of Yoshitarô Nomura, will also be screened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London between 18 and 23 April, giving further reappraisal to his legacy.
Nomura’s film career spanned more than 50 years during which he directed 89 films. Considered one of the pioneers of Japanese film noir, he is best known in Japan for his adaptations of mystery and detective novels, several of which were based on best-selling stories by crime writer Seicho Matsumoto (1909-1992), who was the most popular and highest paid writer in Japan in the late 1950s.
Matsumoto’s prodigious output, which ran to hundreds of stories and dozens of novels, chimed well with the downbeat, modern strain of post-war Japanese literature. Compellingly brought to life by Nomura, the crimes in these stories speak of a compromised society, damaged and mistrustful. The five best examples of their collaboration will be screened at BIFF and the ICA. These include the 1974 thriller, Castle of Sand, which is ranked as one of the greatest ever-Japanese films by domestic critics, as well as The Demon (1978), Zero Focus (1961), The Chase (aka Stakeout) (1958), and The Shadow Within (1970).
A reassessment of Nomura’s talents is long overdue; his work has been praised by Alexander Jacoby, Oxford Brookes University scholar and author of A Critical Handbook of Japanese Film Directors, for its display of “a subtlety and finesse rare amongst studio artisans. He expertly distils a mood of unease, and is grimly compelling.” Nomura’s film locations include the northern region of Tohoku and towns around Saga, Kyushu in Stakeout, which are offered not as touristic backdrops, but as real places where real people live.
The Crime Films of Yoshitarô Nomura is a partnership between BIFF and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, The Japan Foundation London, The ICA, London, and Shochiku, Tokyo.
Tickets are now on sale and available here along with further information: www.bradfordfilmfestival.org.uk.
1. Yoshitarô Nomura, The Castle of Sand (1974). Courtesy of BIFF.