TIFF presents Cinema Kabuki 2016

Calendar of Screenings

TIFF Bell Lightbox
350 King Street West, Toronto

Saturday, February 27, 2016
11:30 am Lion Dance, Kagamijishi
1:30 pm Three Thieves Named Kichisa NEW

Sunday, February 28, 2016
11:00 am Kumagai’s Camp NEW
1:30 pm Kagotsurube, The Haunted Sword

Tickets on sale at: www.tiff.net/specialevents or in person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
$22 (tax and applicable charges included)
TIFF membership discounts apply

For more information:

Cinema Kabuki is presented by TIFF in partnership with The Japan Foundation, Toronto.


kagamijishiLion Dance/Kagamijishi (a dance performance)

Premiered in 1893
Written by Ochi Fukuchi
Composed by Shojiro Kineya III
Recorded live at Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2009
70 min. (Introduction 10 min. + dance 60 min. )
Subtitled in English
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdPjLAYMbzI

For the late Kanzaburo XVIII “Lion Dance” was the most precious gem of his family tradition. Danjuro XI, who created the piece, was the mentor of Kanzaburo’s grandfather, Kikugoro XI. Four generations of the best Kabuki actors of their eras nurtured “Kagami Jishi” and developed it into one of the best examples of the dance repertoire in Kabuki theatre. A single dancer conjures up a stunning contrast of two images: A young maiden in the Shogun’s castle is transformed by the spirit of the majestic Shishi, a mythical animal. The healthy, sophisticated eroticism of a young woman is conveyed by the dancer in the first part. She is noble, sensitive, yet coquettish at times. But, when the spirit of the ferocious Shishi takes over her body, the animal stamps the earth, and swings his mane in the air, celebrating the prosperity and glory of life.

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kichisaThree Thieves Named Kichisa/San’nin Kichisa
(an urban outlaw story)

Premiered in 1860
Written by Kawatake Mokuami
Directed for the stage and Cinema Kabuki by Kushida Kazuyoshi
Recorded live at Theater Cocoon, Shibuya, Tokyo, 2014
136 min.
Subtitled in English
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2&v=oBtmU5KSkmQ
Synopsis and background: http://www.kabuki21.com/sannin_kichisa.php

Early 19th-century Edo (the former name of Tokyo) had juvenile delinquents and outlaws everywhere. Urban culture was overripe. Three thieves happen to meet on a dark New Year’s night. They feel compassion for each other instantly and vow brotherhood. But they do not know that this encounter is only one milestone of their fate. Long before the three meet, their lives have already been entangled. An intricate web of destiny eventually drives them to their deaths. Kankuro, Shichinosuke, and Matsuya are three of the most promising young Kabuki actors. This classic play is given new life by these young talents in an unconventional production by Kushida at a contemporary venue, Theater Cocoon, located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, known as the Street of Youth.

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kumagaiKumagai’s Camp/Kumagai Jin’ya
(a samurai tragedy)

Premiered in 1751 as a puppet theatre play
Written by Namika Sosuke
Recorded live at Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2010
104 min.
Subtitled in English
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLsXQXWbDjU
Synopsis and background: http://www.kabuki21.com/kumagai.php

A samurai hero struggles on the battlefield. But on his day of triumph, Kumagai, one of the commanding officers, suffers in agony trying to fulfill his duty and devotion to his Lord Yoshitsune. This play was originally written for the puppet theatre and through its formal structure achieves the passion and solemnity of classic drama. A powerful warrior is transformed from a statuesque figure to a pure victim of the inhumanity of war. This character development is depicted stylistically through the sung narration of Gidayu music. Three Living National Treasures—Kichiemon, Tomijuro, and Tojuro—create a splendid tableau of historical grandeur.

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kagotsurubeKagotsurube, The Haunted Sword/Kagotsurube Sato no Eizame
(a story of the pleasure quarter)

Written by Shinshichi Kawatake
Premiered in 1888
Directed for Cinema Kabuki by Hiroyuki Nakatani
Recorded live at Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2010
113 minutes
Subtitled in English
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oScGR-qCAyU

On the main street of the Yoshiwara pleasure district the top courtesan Yatsuhashi makes a luxurious procession through the fully blooming cherry trees. Miraculously, she happens to smile at Jirozaemon, a country merchant in the crowd. Who would have ever imagined that this momentary encounter could be the cause of mass murder? A love triangle forces the courtesan to reject her best customer in the middle of a banquet — the most dishonourable humiliation of all. Jirozaemon seizes the haunted sword Kagotsurube, which inevitably invites bloodshed once it is drawn. Kanzaburo and Tamasaburo are joined by Nizaemon to form a dream cast for this Kabuki classic.

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