Shohei Imamura


Shohei Imamura is widely recognised as one of the most important directors to emerge from the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s. He is the only Japanese director to win two Palme d’Or awards. Imamura’s work is typically ribald, bawdy, and earthy, revealing and revelling in the underpinnings of Japanese society.

Pigs and Battleships

Shohei Imamura | Japan | 1961 | 108 minutes | English subtitles

Imamura answered his true calling as Japanese cinema’s most dedicated and brilliant chronicler of society’s underbelly with this astonishing film. A riotous portrait of sub-Yakuza gangsters battling for control of the local pork business in a U.S. Navy-occupied coastal town, Imamura conjures a chaotic world of petty thugs, young love, tough-headed women, and underworld hypochondria.

Sunday, 10 January at 7.00pm

The Insect Woman

Shohei Imamura | Japan | 1963 | 123 minutes | English subtitles

A portrait of opportunism and resilience in three generations of women. The Insect Woman is Imamura’s most expansive film, and Tomé, who survives decades of Japanese social upheaval, as well as abuse and servitude at the hands of various men, his ultimate heroine. Arguably Imamura’s most radical and emphatic testament to female resilience.

Sunday, 17 January at 7.00pm

Vengeance is Mine

Shohei Imamura | Japan | 1979 | 140 minutes | English subtitles

This startlingly violent film recounts, in a simple dispassionate style, the true story of Iwao Enokizu, self-styled ‘King of the Criminals.’ Unfolding through multiple flashbacks, Ken Ogata delivers a career-defining performance as a con-artist turned rapist and murderer.

Sunday, 24 January at 7.00pm

The Ballad of Nariama

Shohei Imamura | Japan | 1983 | 130 minutes | English subtitles

A brutal and haunting meditation on the nature of life, sex and death. With typical directness and black humour, Imamura presents a bracingly unsentimental rumination on mortality and an engrossing study of a community’s struggles against the natural elements. Handled with a masterful control and simplicity, moving effortlessly between the comic and the horrific, The Ballad of Narayama is one of Imamura’s deepest, richest works.

Sunday, 31 January at 7.00pm

The Eel

Shohei Imamura | Japan | 1997 | 116 minutes | English subtitles

After an eight-year prison sentence for murder, Takuro chooses to start a new life as a barber in a small town, which offers perfect isolation from his fears. As a favour to the town priest he agrees to help a young woman with a troubled past by offering her job as his assistant. However, when he least expects it, her past will collide with his. A tonally-shifting exploration of self-forgiveness and self-acceptance that is deeply lyrical, imaginative, funny and emotionally resonant.

Sunday, 7 February at 7.00pm