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Flunky, Work Hard! + Apart From You

He is in the same league as acknowledged masters like Mizoguchi and Ozu, but Mikio Naruse, the ‘master of tragic love’, long remained unknown in Europe. Cinema Concert presents two of his early films as part of the Naruse retrospective in EYE. With live performance by Ichiro Kataoka and introduction by Ivo Smits.

Live performace by the renowned Japanese benshi (actor/explicator) Ichirō Kataoka and his ensemble: Ayumi Kamiya (piano), Yasumi Miyazawa (shamisen) and Masayoshi Tanaka (drums).

about 'benshi' Ichiro Kataoka

The silent film turned going to the cinema in Japan into a live multimedia experience far into the 1930s. Silent films, whether homegrown or imported from the West, were accompanied by music and by so-called benshi, voice actors who narrated the roles and commented on the film, often based a script they themselves provided. It was primarily owing to the immense popularity of the benshi that the sound film became mainstream in Japan fairly late.

Ichirō Kataoka (1977) is one of the few still active benshi in Japan. He was taught the art by Midori Sawato, a female benshi who debuted in 1973 and also still performs. Sawato in turn was a student of the legendary Shunsui Matsuda (1925 – 1987), who was known as the last benshi of the silent film era. It places Kataoka in a remarkable tradition that turns every screening into a unique live performance.

about the live music

Ayumi Kamiya (piano) graduated from Toho Gakuen Graduate school of Music. Since 2012, Kamiya has collaborated with Benshi performer, Ichiro Kataoka, accompanying him on the piano. She also composes and arranges music for silent films. In 2015, she performed for the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy in 2015, and the Beijing International Film Festival in 2016.

Masayoshi Tanaka (Taiko Drums, Percussion)
Born in Akita prefecture, northern Japan, at the age of 18 Tanaka began studying musical theory and percussion under world-famous Professor Tomoyuki Okada,Takashi Ueno and Mutsuko Fujii at Senzoku Gakuen University of Music.
While absorbing various styles of music, he most deeply impressed by Japanese Taiko drums. Thus began his professional career as a Taikodrummer, western drummer and percussionist. Well experienced on a variety of stages, he is widely praised for his colorful and dynamic drumming.
Tanaka performed at the Japan-China friendship concert in Beijing , The 1st Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize in Tokyo in 2009 and the International Triennal of Contemporary Art in Akita 2012. Recently,Tanaka has been active in such a wide variety of artistic fieldsthat they areimpossible to categorize, such as studio, session and supporting musician, arranger and musical composer. He performs tracks for Japanese animation, video games, and plays.

Yasumi Miyazawa (Shamisen (three string Japanese guitar) player, Kouta singer)
Qualified as a Shamisen master in 2008 and plays Japanese traditional and also rock music. Also known as a religious art writer. Works: "Ash-La La La" (CD album), "Interview with Buddha" (Book) etc.


Flunky, Work Hard! (Koshiben ganbare)
Mikio Naruse (JP, 1931) 38’
English intertitles

Naruse depicted the fortunes of the hapless and impoverished insurance agent Mizuhara with a keen eye for the tragicomic side of life. When Mizuhara’s son gets into a fight with some local lads, he jeopardizes his father’s already shaky livelihood. A charming comedy about life in the suburbs, captured in brilliantly edited, smooth camera movements.


Apart From You (Kimi to wakarete)
Mikio Naruse (JP, 1933) 72’
English intertitles

Naruse often focused on stories narrating the plight of Japanese women. His heroines, from geishas to barmaids, from peasant women to nurses, all manage to hold their own in a thoroughly patriarchal society. In Apart from You, Naruse again turned his camera on the lives of hard-working women. This subtle drama, which also meant his breakthrough, contrasts an elderly geisha with her beautiful and younger colleague, who resents her family for forcing her to become a geisha, a life despised by many. The two geishas, both tied to a young man, try to maintain their pride in a dependent relationship. Naruse accentuated their isolated existence in tautly stylized images that bring out the subtle emotions.

The film you are looking for was shown in EYE in a past programme.
Sorry we can’t help you out. But as a lover of classics, genre and arthouse film we invite you to have a look at what is on view now.
Program a-z