For over ten years, Pickford Film Center has been screening select choices from the vast and diverse landscape of Asian cinema. Co-presented by the Western Washington University Libraries and curated by Jeff Purdue, chosen films are often accompanied by introductions by educators and experts. From renowned icons Yasujirō Ozu and Edward Yang, to contemporary figures Hong Sang-soo and Jia Zhang-ke, Cinema East strives to provide a look into the wonderful world of Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese cinema.

Jeff Purdue is a librarian at Western Washington University, where he also teaches film classes. He has curated Cinema East through all its incarnations for over 10 years.

Jeff Purdue is a librarian at Western Washington University, where he also teaches film classes.  He has curated Cinema East through all its incarnations for over 10 years.

2021-2022 SEASON

WIFE OF A SPY

Dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Master filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Cure, Tokyo Sonata) won the Silver Lion (Best Director) at the Venice Film Festival for this riveting, gorgeously crafted, old-school Hitchockian thriller shot in stunning 8K. The year is 1940 in Kobe, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II. Local merchant and amateur filmmaker Yusaku (Issey Takahashi, Kill Bill) senses that things are headed in an unsettling direction. Following a trip to Manchuria, he becomes determined to bring to light the things he witnessed there, and secretly filmed. Meanwhile, his wife Satoko (Japan Society’s 2021 Honoree Yû Aoi) receives a visit from her childhood friend, now a military policeman. He warns her about Yusaku’s seditious ways and reveals that a woman her husband brought back from his trip has died. Satoko confronts Yusaku, but when she discovers his true intentions, she is torn between loyalty to her husband, the life they have built, and the country they call home.

Introduction by Eren Odabasi, WWU, Film Studies.

Get tickets here.

November 16th, 2021

FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI

Dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien

An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, this gorgeous period reverie by Hou Hsiao-hsien traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around four late-nineteenth-century Shanghai “flower houses,” where courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor but forced to work to buy back their freedom. Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), whose relationship with his longtime mistress (Michiko Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal. Composed in a languorous procession of entrancing long takes, Flowers of Shanghai evokes a vanished world of decadence and cruelty, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains tantalizingly offscreen—even as its emotional fallout registers with quiet devastation.

 November 30th, 2021

 

TOUCH OF SIN

Dir. Jia Zhangke

A “brilliant exploration of violence and corruption in contemporary China” (Jon Frosch, The Atlantic), A TOUCH OF SIN was inspired by four shocking (and true) events that forced the world’s fastest growing economy into a period of self-examination. Written and directed by master filmmaker Jia Zhangke (The World, Still Life), “one of the best and most important directors in the world” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker), this daring, poetic and grand-scale film focuses on four characters, each living in different provinces, who are driven to violent ends. An angry miner, enraged by widespread corruption in his village, decides to take justice into his own hands. A rootless migrant discovers the infinite possibilities of owning a firearm. A young receptionist, who dates a married man and works at a local sauna, is pushed beyond her limits by an abusive client. And a young factory worker goes from one discouraging job to the next, only to face increasingly degrading circumstances.

January 11th, 2022

SECRET SUNSHINE

Dir. Lee Chang-dong

When her husband passes away in an automobile accident, Shin-ae relocates down south to her late husband’s hometown of Miryang. Despite her efforts to settle down, in this unfamiliar and much too normal place, she finds that she can’t quite fit in. Helping her out is Kim Jong-chan, a good-intentioned but bothersome bachelor, who owns a car repair shop. Life plods on. However, fate takes a vicious turn when Shin-ae loses her son in the most horrific way a mother could imagine. She turns to Christianity to relieve the pain in her heart, but when even this is not permitted, she wages a war against God.

 February 8th, 2022

 

 

TRUE MOTHERS

Dir. Naomi Kawase

The latest from acclaimed director Naomi Kawase — a candid force in contemporary Japanese cinema — is a touching family story of love and adoption. Naomi Kawase’s latest film, True Mothers, is a powerful visual adaptation of a 2015 novel by Mizuki Tsujimura, crafted with the rich texture of the director’s unique style, which combines sensuous filmmaking with tactile, vibrant storytelling.

Introduction by Eren Odabasi, WWU, Film Studies.

 

March 8th, 2022

THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR

Dir. Ritwik Ghatak

“Directed by the visionary Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, The Cloud-Capped Star tells the story of a family who have been uprooted by the Partition of India and come to depend on their eldest daughter, the self-sacrificing Neeta (Supriya Choudhury). She watches helplessly as her own hopes and desires are pushed aside time and again by those of her siblings and parents, until all her chances for happiness evaporate, leaving her crushed and ailing. Experimenting with off-balance compositions, discontinuous editing, and a densely layered soundtrack, Ghatak devised an intellectually ambitious and emotionally devastating new shape for the melodrama, lamenting the tragedies of Indian history and the inequities of traditional gender roles while blazing a formal trail for the generations of Indian filmmakers who have followed him.” – The Criterion Collection

Introduction by Dharitri Bhattacharjee, WWU Professor of History.

 

April 12th, 2022

BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK

Dir. Anocha Suwichakornpong

“Described this way, By the Time It Gets Dark might sound like a simple story about the relationship between two generations of women, as they discover what’s common to, and different about, their experiences. But even before the film veers sharply into more confounding territory, it’s a little more complicated than that. Even in its first half, the film is spiked with flashbacks, digressions and other moments that make its narrative logic that bit more elusive. There are glimpses of ’76, as a young woman at a student meeting rages against the powers that be; she might be Taew’s younger self, but then she could be the younger Taew imagined by Ann for her film. There’s a bewildering scene that might be a dream, or a detour into magic realism: walking in the forest near the house, Ann spots a young girl, dressed in an animal costume. The pair walk on through the forest, casting wary looks at each other; then the editing makes it seem as if she is pursuing her own adult double. Other unexplained moments of disruption include a brief visual interlude in which the screen is suddenly filled with amber-colored reflections on what might be a camera lens; and a strange imagistic montage that takes in birds flying, an insect, speeded-up images of mushrooms growing and, out of nowhere, a mushroom-related clip from Méliès’s Journey to the Moon.” – Film Comment

Introduction by Jeff Purdue: Cinema East curator, WWU librarian and film professor

 

May 10th, 2022

WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY

Dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

“Described this way, By the Time It Gets Dark might sound like a simple story about the relationship between two generations of women, as they discover what’s common to, and different about, their experiences. But even before the film veers sharply into more confounding territory, it’s a little more complicated than that. Even in its first half, the film is spiked with flashbacks, digressions and other moments that make its narrative logic that bit more elusive. There are glimpses of ’76, as a young woman at a student meeting rages against the powers that be; she might be Taew’s younger self, but then she could be the younger Taew imagined by Ann for her film. There’s a bewildering scene that might be a dream, or a detour into magic realism: walking in the forest near the house, Ann spots a young girl, dressed in an animal costume. The pair walk on through the forest, casting wary looks at each other; then the editing makes it seem as if she is pursuing her own adult double. Other unexplained moments of disruption include a brief visual interlude in which the screen is suddenly filled with amber-colored reflections on what might be a camera lens; and a strange imagistic montage that takes in birds flying, an insect, speeded-up images of mushrooms growing and, out of nowhere, a mushroom-related clip from Méliès’s Journey to the Moon.” – Film Comment

Introduction by Jeff Purdue: Cinema East curator, WWU librarian and film professor (or from Eren Odabasi, WWU Film Studies professor)

 

May 10th, 2022
 
 
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