Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka

Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka

6 Episodes

Kinuyo Tanaka was already one of Japan’s greatest actors—celebrated for her collaborations with auteurs like Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, and Mikio Naruse—when she took an unprecedented risk by embarking on a directing career in a studio system that actively discouraged female filmmakers. The six features she made over the course of a decade center on women characters who refuse to conform to restrictive social roles as they seek independence and individual agency. With compassion and insight, Tanaka critiques the social conditions and forces that shape her heroines’ struggles: sex work and social shaming (LOVE LETTER), the reduction of a woman to passive romantic partner (THE MOON HAS RISEN), taboos surrounding mortality and the female body (FOREVER A WOMAN), colonial politics (THE WANDERING PRINCESS), the rehabilitation of “fallen women” (GIRLS OF THE NIGHT), and religious persecution and forbidden love (LOVE UNDER THE CRUCIFIX).

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Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka
  • Love Letter

    Episode 1

    Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka • 1953 • Japan
    Starring Masayuki Mori, Juzo Dosan, Yoshiko Kuga

    Released a year after the American occupation of Japan ended, Kinuyo Tanaka’s directorial debut explores the professional and personal conflicts of Reikichi (Masayuki Mori), a repatriated veteran who search...

  • The Moon Has Risen

    Episode 2

    Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka • 1955 • Japan
    Starring Chishu Ryu, Shuji Sano, Hisako Yamane

    For her second film, Kinuyo Tanaka directed a script by legendary collaborator and mentor Yasujiro Ozu. Though informed by Ozu’s singular take on familial relationships, THE MOON HAS RISEN also possesses Tana...

  • Forever a Woman

    Episode 3

    Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka • 1955 • Japan
    Starring Yumeji Tsukioka, Masayuki Mori, Ryoji Hayama

    Widely considered Kinuyo Tanaka’s first personal film, FOREVER A WOMAN tells the story of a recent divorcée (Yumeji Tsukioka) who is diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. In adapting the real-life s...

  • The Wandering Princess

    Episode 4

    Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka • 1960 • Japan
    Starring Machiko Kyo, Eiji Funakoshi, Yomei Ryu

    Kinuyo Tanaka’s first film in both color and CinemaScope is an epic about a woman caught in the torrents of history. Based on the memoirs of Hiro Saga, THE WANDERING PRINCESS tells the story of Ryuko (Machik...

  • Girls of the Night

    Episode 5

    Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka • 1961 • Japan
    Starring Chisako Hara, Akemi Kita, Yosuke Natsuki

    With GIRLS OF THE NIGHT, Kinuyo Tanaka reunited with screenwriter Sumie Tanaka to explore Japan’s attempted reformation of former prostitutes. The film follows Kuniko (Hisako Hara), an escort who enters a ...

  • Love Under the Crucifix

    Episode 6

    Directed by Kinuyo Tanaka • 1962 • Japan
    Starring Ineko Arima, Tatsuya Nakadai, Mieko Takamine

    Kinuyo Tanaka’s final work as a director evokes the golden age of Japanese cinema with a large-scale, sixteenth-century-set costume drama. Produced by the independent studio Ninjin Kurabu, LOVE UNDER T...