This will be a complete retrospective of Kinuyo Tanaka’s directorial work, with all films presented in new 4K digital restorations.

Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-1977) was one of the most popular and successful stars of Japanese cinema, with more than 250 credited films to her name in a career lasting over 50 years. Although justly renowned for her acting collaborations with master filmmakers such as Yasujirõ Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Mikio Naruse, the films in this season pay tribute to her work as a director and represent a complete retrospective of her work behind the camera, a celebration of an overlooked auteur.

Today the Irish Film Institute announced details of a season of Kinuyo Tanaka’s films which will open on 4th March with Love Letter. The titles will be:

Love Letter – 4 March

The Moon Has Risen – 5 March

Forever a Woman – 11 March

The Wandering Princess – 12 March

Girls of the Night – 18 March

Love under the Crucifix – 19 March

Irish Film Institute is delighted to present this complete retrospective of Kinuyo Tanaka’s directorial work, with all films presented in new 4K digital restorations.  Now booking at

Stills can be downloaded HERE. A season trailer can be downloaded HERE.

A pioneering figure in Japan’s post-war studio system that actively discouraged female filmmakers, Tanaka directed 6 features between 1953 and 1962 (in defiance of Mizoguchi’s expressed disapproval), sensitive portraits of Japanese women that foreground the experiences of mistresses, prostitutes, poets, heroines, and victims of social injustice, in a variety of genres, from the romantic comedy, the biopic, to the period drama. Her films emphasis the indomitable spirit of the individual and the collective power of female kinship.

Irish Film Institute is delighted to present this complete retrospective of Kinuyo Tanaka’s directorial work, with all films presented in new 4K digital restorations.


Saturday March 4 (15.30)

Film info: 98 mins, Japan, 1953, Digital                  [F-Rated]

Released a year after the American occupation of Japan ended, Tanaka’s directorial debut explores the professional and personal conflicts of Reikichi (Masayuki Mori), a repatriated veteran who searches for his lost love (Yoshiko Kuga) while translating romantic letters from Japanese women to American GIs. As adapted from a novel by Fumio Niwa, Love Letter depicts with incisive complexity the fraught adaptation of Japanese soldiers to a changed society as well as the moral condemnation of Japanese women who entered into relations with the enemy.



Sunday March 5 (15.30)

Film info: 102 mins, Japan, 1955, Digital               [F-Rated]

Devised by the Directors Guild of Japan, The Moon Has Risen is based on a screenplay jointly written by Yasujiro Ozu and Ryosuke Saito, and is Kinuyo Tanaka’s second feature film as a director. She is also a member of the cast for this enchanting love story told from a uniquely female perspective, which follows the romantic fortunes of three sisters leading tranquil lives in Japan’s ancient capital Nara during late autumn. Tanaka’s direction is enhanced by the participation of several of Ozu’s regular collaborators, such as Chishu Ryu who plays the sisters’ father, and Takanobu Saito who composed the score. Other main cast members include Hisako Yamane, Yoko Sugi, Mie Kitahara, and Shoji Yasui, who adopted the name of his character in this film, his motion picture debut, as his stage name.



Saturday March 11 (15.30)

Film info: 110 mins, Japan, 1955, Digital [F-Rated]

Kinuyo Tanaka’s third film as a director tells the story of Fumiko Nakajo, an ill-fated female tanka poet whose life was brought to a premature end by breast cancer. Set on the plains of Hokkaido, it features a fully-committed performance from star Yumeji Tsukioka, whose character deals with the pain of being separated from her son, then suddenly finds herself forced to confront her mortality, yet still invests herself wholeheartedly in one last love affair. The supporting cast includes Masayuki Mori, one of the most revered actors of Japanese cinema’s golden age, as well as Ryoji Hayama in his first film role, Yoko Sugi, and Shiro Osaka. The screenplay was penned by Sumie Tanaka, further consolidating the “films for women, by women” outlook that Kinuyo Tanaka strived to advance.



Sunday March 12 (15.30)

Film info: 102 mins, Japan, 1960, Digital [F-Rated]

Tanaka’s first film in both colour and Cinemascope is an epic about a woman caught in the torrents of history. Based on the memoirs of Hiro Saga, The Wandering Princess depicts the story of Ryuko (Machiko Kyo), an aristocrat who, at the outset of World War II, is forced to marry Futetsu (Eiji Funakoshi), the younger brother of the soon-to-be disposed Chinese emperor. Ryuko’s entanglement in the Japanese occupation of Manchuria realises with startling depth Tanaka’s ambition to relate a historical saga from a critical female perspective.



Saturday March 18 (15.30)

Film info: 93 mins, Japan, 1961, Digital                  [F-Rated]

With Girls of the Night, Tanaka reunited with screenwriter Sumie Tanaka to explore the reformation of prostitutes. The film follows Kuniko (Hisako Hara), an escort who enters a rehabilitation centre after the Prostitution Prevention Law prohibits her line of work. But creating a new life proves treacherous—wherever Kuniko goes, the past seems to catch up with her. In once again taking on challenging subject matter, Tanaka paints an empathetic portrait of a fragile community of untamed outcasts.



Sunday March 19 (15.30)

Film info: 102 mins, Japan, 1962, Digital               [F-Rated]

A film about the tragic love of Ogin who is the daughter of a master of the Japanese tea ceremony (Sado), Sen no Rikyu, and a Christian Samurai lord Takayama Ukon, based on a novel by Kon Toukou. Ogin marries a wealthy merchant despite being in love with Ukon. She is also asked to become a mistress of Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In order to pursue her love and fight against authority, she must make the ultimate decision. Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka, the film depicts the struggle of Ogin surviving from a female perspective and portrays the beauty of the Momoyama culture (from around year 1568 to 1600).

The IFI is supported
by The Arts Council

Arts Council of Ireland