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Japanese Film Classics from the BAMPFA Collection

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BERKELEY — The UC Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive’s collections of Japanese art and film are being celebrated with presentations in its galleries and the Barbro Osher Theater through Jan. 27.

The exhibition “Ink, Paper, Silk: One Hundred Years of Collecting Japanese Art” showcases treasures from the museum’s collection, while a stellar selection of classic films from the archive is screened.

In the early 1970s, BAMPFA acquired key works of Japanese cinema; thanks to archivists’ care of this prized collection, many of these 35mm prints are still in excellent condition. Featured in the lineup are several masterpieces from the 1950s, such as Yasujiro Ozu’s “Early Summer,” starring the enchanting Setsuko Hara; Akira Kurosawa’s tour-de-force “Ikiru,” a portrait of modern society; Kenji Mizoguchi’s hauntingly beautiful “Ugetsu” and “Sansho the Bailiff,” a tragedy set in the 11th century; and Kon Ichikawa’s “Harp of Burma,” a profound antiwar statement about the fate of soldiers after Japan’s surrender.

BAMPFA also presents a rare 35mm ’Scope print of Mikio Naruse’s exquisite “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs,” starring Hideko Takamine as a woman trapped in her profession as a modern-day geisha; Masahiro Shinoda’s visually striking “Double Suicide,” a central film of the Art Theater Guild, an independent production company that attracted many of Japan’s top directors; and Hayao Miyazaki’s anime classic “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” shown in its original language version with English subtitles.

Upcoming Films

Saturday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m.: “Sansho the Bailiff” (1954), directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. A haunting tale of a family (led by Kinuyo Tanaka) victimized by the cruel practices of feudal Japan.

Sunday, Dec. 16, at 6:30 p.m.: “Sanshiro Sugata” (1943), directed by Akira Kurosawa. A young man learns dedication and discipline in life — and judo — in Kurosawa’s debut film.

Friday, Dec. 28, at 4:15 p.m.: “Early Summer” (1951), directed by Yasujiro Ozu. An exquisite, faintly melancholy portrait of a family, with Setsuko Hara as the daughter on whose marriage everything depends.

Saturday, Dec. 29, at 7:45 p.m.: “Double Suicide” (1969), directed by Masahiro Shinoda. A “remix” of a classic Japanese bunraku puppet play finds live actors, puppets, and their handlers all part of the action.

Friday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.: “Ikiru” (1952), directed by Akira Kurosawa. In this humanist masterpiece, an ordinary civil servant — perhaps Takashi Shimura’s greatest role — discovers what it means to live.

Sunday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m.: “Ugetsu” (1953), directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. In 16th-century Japan, a potter has his head turned by a phantom enchantress, with predictable results.

Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m.: “Harp of Burma” (1956), directed by Kon Ichikawa. A lyrical requiem for the victims of war, set amid the giant Buddhas of Burma.

Saturday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.: “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs” (1960), directed by Mikio Naruse. Hideko Takamine portrays the consummate Naruse heroine: high-minded, determined, and out of her element in a sordid world.

Saturday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m.: “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (1984), directed by Hayao Miyazaki. A girl who is both soldier and scientist seeks to reconcile the last remnants of her still-warring species with the monstrous biological order overtaking Earth.

BAMPFA is located at 2155 Center St., Berkeley. Museum hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, call (510) 642-0808, email [email protected] or visit http://bampfa.org.

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