10 Films you cannot miss at the 10th Kyoto Historica International Film Festival

These are ten films you cannot miss at the Kyoto Historica International Film Festival, which will take place from October 27th – November 4th at the Museum of Kyoto.

A Blood Spear at Mount

A Blood Spear at Mount Fuji by Tomu Uchida – Japan | 1955 – 94 min.
Section: Historica Focus

Sakawa Kojuro (Teruo Shimada), his spear carrier Genpachi (Chiezo Kataoka) and servant Genta (Daisuke Kato) are travelling the Tokaido towards Edo. Kojuro is a kind-heated lord, but unfortunately loves to drink and is a frenzy when drunk. Genpachi is anxious, as Genta is also a drinker (KHIFF).

November 2nd | Friday | Museum of Kyoto | 13:30 pm


Bride of White Castle

Bride of White Castle by Tadashi Sawashima – Japan | 1961 – 85 min.
Section: Historica Focus

Okimi (Hibari Misora) is a weaver of a poor village by the Hakuba Castle, who dreams of the fairy tale that a young lord is looking for a bride. There, the handsome Kiritaro (Koji Tsuruta) comes to visit. Okimi believes that he is the lord in disguise, but in fact he is just a thief, the rascal lord, who had come to steal some money from a trunk. Sweet-talked by Kiritaro, Okimi brings a fortune for her young lord, and travels with Kiritaro and his party to Edo; however, the money gets stolen by some thugs on the way. (KHIFF)

November 3rd | Saturday | Museum of Tyoko | 10:30 am


Chuji Tabi nikki

Chuji Tabi nikki by Daisuke Ito – Japan | 1927 – 111 min.
Section: 10th Historica Special Screening

Both the director Daisuke Ito and leading actor Denjiro Okochi were 29 years old at the time of this film. Chuji had been portrayed as a selfless man by Matsunosuke Onoe and Shojiro Sawada until Daisuke Ito redefined him as a “defeated failure” with both greed and worries, to be introduced to the young as the new period film from Kyoto. This film has been appraised as the landmark of silent period films. (KHIFF)

November 4th | Sunday | Museum of Kyoto | 13:30 pm
Benshi narration: Yoichi Inoue


Embrace of the Serpent

Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra
Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina | 2015 – 124 min.
Section: Historica Decade

The shaman Karamakate, the only survivor of his aboriginal tribe, lived alone in the depth of the Amazon. A German ethnographer, severely ill, comes to him seeking for aid. Karamakate who despises westerners, turns him down once, but they set off in a canoe to look for the sacred plant “”yakruna””. Years later, Karamakate, lost of knowledge and emotion due to solitude, sets off on another journey with an American botanist. The 34-year-old Colombian director engraves the forgotten story of aborigines inspired by the journals of western explorers, the Amazon’s “”memories””, to the screen. Free yourself to the two time-spans that intertwine like a jungle for a special visual experience. (KHIFF)

November 2nd | Friday | Museum of Kyoto | 10:30 am




Iceman by Felix Randau – Germany, Italy, Australia | 2017 – 96 min.
Section: Historica World

The Ötztal Alps, more than 5300 years ago. A Neolithic clan has settled nearby a creek. It is their leader Kelab’s (JÜRGEN VOGEL) responsibility to be the keeper of the group’s holy shrine Tineka. While Kelab is hunting, the settlement is attacked. The members of the tribe are brutally murdered, amongst them Kelab’s wife and son, only one newborn survives… and Tineka is gone! Blinded by pain and fury, Kelab is out for one thing alone – vengeance! The pursuit of the murderers is shaping up to be quite an odyssey for Kelab. He fights for the infant’s survival and against the forces of nature. And a fatal error even turns Kelab from hunter to hunted. On top of all that, the loneliness causes Kelab to doubt his actions more and more. When Kelab finally faces the murderers of his clan, his greatest challenge will be not to become a victimizer himself… (KHIFF)

October 30th | Tuesday | Museum of Kyoto | 18:30 pm
November 3rd | Saturday | Museum of Kyoto | 18:30 pm




November by Rainer Sarnet – Estonia, Netherlands, Poland | 2017 – 115 min.
Section: Historica World

In this tale of love and survival in 19th century Estonia, peasant girl Liina longs for village boy Hans, but Hans is inexplicably infatuated by the visiting German baroness that possesses all that he longs for. For Liina, winning Hans’ requited love proves incredibly complicated in this dark, harsh landscape where spirits, werewolves, plagues, and the devil himself converge, where thievery is rampant, and where souls are highly regarded, but come quite cheap. With alluring black and white cinematography, Rainer Sarnet vividly captures these motley lives as they toil to exist—is existence worth anything if it lacks a soul? (KHIFF)

October 31st | Wednesday | Museum of Kyoto | 18:30 pm
November 4th | Sunday | Museum of Kyoto | 18:30 pm



Once upon a time in battlefield

Once upon a time in battlefield by Lee Jun-ik – Korea | 2003 – 101 min.
Section: Historica Decade

The Silla army siding with Tang, gathers 50,000 soldiers under general Kim Yoo-sin to break out in fights and games of human chess against arch-enemy general Kyebaek and his army of 5,000 Baekje soldiers – surprisingly holding out to a tough 4-4 game. The first historical film by maestro Lee Joon-ik that completely changed the image of historical films. He has succeeded in crystallising the war of the Korean peninsula into a drama by portraying it with a comedic taste and animating the complex relations. He breaks the box office records in his next film “King and the Clown”.

October 31st | Wednesday | Museum of Kyoto | 13:30 pm

Trailer (No English Subs):


Orizuru Osen

Orizuru Osen by Kenji Mizoguchi – Japan | 1935 – 86 min.
Section: 10th Historica Special Screening

An emotional Meiji era film by Kenji Mizoguchi. Based on the novel “Baishoku Kamo Nanban” by Kyoka Izumi. A woman is made mistress by a yakuza, then forced to help honey-trapping, frauds and criminal businesses; she even puts her body at stake to finance a young man who wishes to study. She leaves behind a paper crane in hopes that he will fly high and succeed like a crane before being taken captive; what awaited her was imprisonment and an incurable illness. Kenji Mizoguchi brutally portrays the woman let to be destroyed, with sometimes sadistic images and dark, damp undertones that seep the woman’s despair through the screen. Restored as part of the 2018 Kyoto Prefecture digital remastering development program.

November 3rd | Saturday | Museum of Kyoto | 13:30 pm


Ten Years Japan

Ten Years Japan by C. Hayakawa, Y. Kinoshita, M. Tuno, A. Fujimura, K. Ishikawa
Japan | 2018 – 99 min.
Section: Kyoto Filmmakers Lab-Come Back Salmon Project

“DATA” (directed by Ai Tsuno) is a story of a girl who inherits the personal data of her deceased family as digital heritage. “Itazura Doumei (Mischief Alliance)” (Yusuke Kinoshita) portrays children whose morals have been raised in an AI educated area. “Utsukushii Kuni (A Beautiful Country)” (Kei Ishikawa) portrays a young man from an advertising firm in charge of a campaign for the draft, where conscription to the SDF has been taken into order in Japan. “PLAN75” (Chie Hayakawa) is a future version of the folklore Ubasute where euthanasia is recommended to the elderly over 75 years old. “Sono Kuuki ha Mienai (That Invisible Air)” (Akiyo Fujimura) portrays a mother and child made to live underground due to air pollution. An anthology film of five stories.

October 27th | Saturday | Museum of Kyoto | 19:00 pm
Talk: Yusuke Kinoshita (Itazura Doumei, director, scenario writer, editor) and Miyuki Takamatsu (Producer)


The Mad Fox

The Mad Fox by Tomu Uchida – Japan | 1962 – 109 min.
Section: Historica Special

In the reign of the Emperor Suzaku (930-946 A.D.), various mishaps happen after a strange white rainbow in appearance in the sky over Kyoto. The Emperor orders a famous astronomer, Yasunori, to consult a certain Chinese book of secrets to calm the fear of the people.Yasunori has two disciples, Yasuna and Doman. But he desires that Yasuna succeeds him because Doman is interested only in power. Assisted by Yasunori’s wife, Doman sends his follower, Akuemon, to kill Yasunori. Doman also steals the secret book and puts the blame on Yasuna and his sweetheart, Sakaki, Yasunori’s adopted daughter. Sakaki commits suicide and Yasuna kills Yasunori’s wife in his rage. He retrieves the secret book and sets out on a journey without destination. He meets her younger sister, Kuzunoha, with whom he falls in love at Sakaki’s home town. Lord Iwakura, Yasunori’s brother-in-low, advices the Court that the Crown Prince has no child, so it causes the confusion of society. Akuemon is summoned to catch a white female fox which is to be used for charming away the curse on the Prince. Akuemon fails to find a white female fox, but meets Yasuna who has protected the foxes. Akuemon beats Yasuna and takes Kuzunoha with him. But Yasuna is rescued by a white fox. The white fox asks his daughter to transform herself in the shape of Kuzunoha to live togeher with him. After that, they have a baby. When Kuzunoha escapes fromAkuemon and comes to Yasuna, the female fox in the shape of Kuzunoha disappears leaving a poem (tanka) beside her sleeping baby.

October 27th | Saturday | Museum of Kyoto | 15:40 pm
Talk: Nakamura Senjaku III (Kabuki Actor), Keiko Iiboshi (Historica navigator, writer and TV personality)


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