“Hirokazu Kore-eda: Cinema from the Outside in” is being presented by the Yanai Initiative at UCLA and Waseda University and the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with the filmmaker as special guest.
• “Nobody Knows” (2004) and an evening with Kore-eda on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles. Four siblings live happily with their mother in a small apartment in Tokyo. The children all have different fathers and have never been to school. The very existence of three of them has been hidden from the landlord. One day, the mother leaves behind a little money and a note, charging her oldest boy to look after the others. And so begins the children’s odyssey, a journey nobody knows. Though engulfed by the cruel fate of abandonment, the four children do their best to survive in their own little world, devising and following their own set of rules. When they are forced to engage with the world outside their cocooned universe, the fragile balance that has sustained them collapses.
• “After Life” (1998) with introduction by Kore-eda on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 9:30 p.m. at Acropolis Cinema at the Downtown Independent, 251 Main St., Los Angeles. “After Life” is set in a small mid-20th century social-service-style office, acting as a way station, where the souls of the recently deceased are processed before entering heaven. “Heaven,” for the film, is a single happy memory from one’s life, re-experienced for eternity, which each of the deceased must choose within their seven days at the way station. The story pays most attention to two of the “counselors,” Takashi and Shiori. Takashi has been assigned to help an old man, Ichiro (Naito Taketoshi), select his memory. Takashi reviews videotape of Ichiro’s life and becomes troubled by his memories, causing both him and his quasi-romantic interest Shiori to re-examine their (after-)lives.
The following screenings will take place at the Billy Wilder Theater, Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles (Courtyard Level, Hammer Museum). Kore-eda will appear at the Oct. 27 and 28 screenings.
• “Still Walking” (2008) on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. Kore-eda channeled the experience of his mother’s death into his most incisive, beautifully realized portrait of a family in quiet crisis. When a brother and sister return to their parents’ home to commemorate the death of their sibling years before, subtle tensions and offhanded slights break the breezy summer atmosphere that belies the emotional wounds old and new that hold them all together and apart.
• “Maborosi” (1995) on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. Several years after the apparent suicide of her husband, Yumiko accepts an arranged marriage and moves with her young son to a small seaside village. She’s immediately embraced by the close-knit community and life seems to resume for her, but the past doesn’t stay the past as small reminders reopen old questions and wounds. Kore-eda sustains a delicate balance between light and shadow in a film about the fragility of the healing process.
• “Air Doll” (2009) on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. Unlike anything else in Kore-eda’s filmography, this story of an inflatable sex doll that comes to life in the middle of Tokyo strikes a whimsical tone that renders its reflections on loneliness, love, the movies and what it really means to be human all the more bittersweet. Bae Doo-na (“The Hos”t) breathes ineffable life into Nozomi, whose childlike curiosity leads her to leave her owner, an anti-social waiter, and explore the old neighborhood around her where she encounters other residents equally, quietly yearning for connection and meaning beneath the city’s gleaming skyscrapers — including a clerk at a video store where she lands a job. Throughout her adventures, the gliding camera work and crisp imagery of cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing (“The Assassin,” “In the Mood for Love”) draw out both the fantastical and philosophical in the everyday.
Since his debut fiction feature, “Maborosi,” Kore-eda has quietly built an international reputation as the contemporary heir apparent to the legacy of Yasujiro Ozu through a series of restrained but powerfully moving portraits of Japanese family life. It’s a comparison that Kore-eda himself has rejected and one that has its limitations.
Kore-eda displays a masterful attention to stillness and the gentle rhythms of the everyday, but he is equally attuned to the disruptions and dislocations that ripple and break the surface of things. From “Maborosi” to “After the Storm” (2016), Kore-eda’s characters struggle with loss, separation, guilt and healing, which is always tenuous. He has also worked compellingly in a variety of genres including documentary (“However…”), true-life stories (“Distance”), chanbara (“Hana”), fantasy (“Air Doll”) and thrillers, including his most recent film, “The Third Murder” (2017).
The UCLA Film & Television Archive is honored to host Kore-eda for a special program of screenings and conversations at the Billy Wilder Theater as part of a series of events around the city in celebration of his remarkable career. This series is presented in association with the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles; the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, with additional support provided by the UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies. Special thanks to: Michael Emmerich, Nobuko Shinno, Miyuki Fukuma, Akira Lippit.