The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center announces the return of films to Little Tokyo as this year’s FilmFest approaches.

The festival will take place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 and will showcase classics from Japan’s golden age of film as well as more recent, family-oriented movies.

"The Lower Depths" (Toho Co. Ltd.)

The three-day celebration will cross over many genres to appeal to film connoisseurs, students, and children in equal measures. Whether one is looking to reconnect with his or her past through the shared cultural experience of movie-watching or to ride along with Rantaro as he ventures through ninja training school, Film Fest has something to offer.

FilmFest will also pay tribute to Isuzu Yamada (山田五十鈴), who passed away on July 9 at the age of 95. As she is most known for her role as the Lady Macbeth character in “Throne of Blood” (蜘蛛巣城), it seems only appropriate to honor this woman who displayed elegance and toughness on the silver screen.

“Katsudo Shashin” (moving pictures) presents two films, “The Lower Depths” (1957), directed by Akira Kurosawa, and “Osaka Elegy” (1936), directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, both of which feature Yamada. Award-winning actress Yoko Sugi will make a special appearance to introduce these films.

“The Lower Depths” (どん底) will be shown Saturday, Sept. 1, at 1 p.m. at the Aratani Japan America Theatre adjacent to the JACCC (244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles). Admission: $10.

Kurosawa brilliantly translates Maxim Gorky’s 1902 proletariat play to Edo-period Japan. The film tells the story of a couple that is struggling to make ends meet by renting out rooms in an old, run-down tenement. The intricate storyline investigates the couple’s relationship as well as relationships throughout the community amidst infidelity, poverty, and murder.

“Osaka Elegy” (浪華悲歌) will be shown Sunday, Sept. 2, at 1 p.m. at the Aratani Japan America Theatre. Admission: $10.

"Osaka Elegy" (Shochiku Co. Ltd.)

Both a cultural and commercial success, this film takes the audience through the life of Ayako Murai, a young woman who becomes her employer’s mistress in order to pay off her father’s debt only to be arrested, ostracized by her family, and kicked out of her home. Though Ayako’s struggles are atypical, the audience is able to feel both the internal and external struggles that she encounters in her personal life.

For younger audiences, the 2011 film “Ninja Kids!!!” (忍たま乱太郎) will be shown at the Aratani Japan America Theatre on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. The director is Takashi Miike, also known for such hits as “13 Assassins” and “Harakiri.” This film follows young Rantaro, who is sent off to ninja training school by his parents. Competition begins to stir things up after a rival group comes in and tries to steal his school’s glory.

Food, family, and fun come together on the JACCC Plaza as FilmFest presents “Gigantor: Revenge of Captain Spider” (1963) and “New Treasure Island” (1964), two of the finest anime movies to come out of Japan in the early 1960s. They will be shown Aug. 31 at 8 p.m.

“Gigantor” (鉄人28号), directed by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, focuses on a 12-year-old boy named Jimmy Sparks who has a remote-controlled robot named Gigantor. Though the robot was originally created to cause destruction, it eventually changes into a gentle giant.

“New Treasure Island” (新宝島), directed by Osamu Tezuka, tells the story of a young boy who sets off to find Treasure Island after finding a map that his father left behind. His journey is one that people of all ages will enjoy watching.

For more information, call (213) 628-2725 or visit

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