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OSAKA

Film festival focuses on Osaka

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Of all the films the late actress Isuzu Yamada starred in, none of them better symbolized the vicissitudes of her real life than the 1936 “Naniwa Ereji (Naniwa Elegy).”

Yamada, who died last year at the age of 95, went through at least three unsuccessful marriages, with her obituaries full of stories of her romantic scandals and an apparent falling-out with her daughter. Starring then 19-year-old Yamada as its ill-fated heroine, “Naniwa Elegy” tells the story of a woman who gets bogged down in complicated relations with men.

The movie will be featured at an upcoming film festival at The National Museum of Art, Osaka, this weekend.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi, Yamada plays Ayako Murai, who one day finds herself up to her neck in debt because of her father’s financial problems. Desperate, she goes after and seduces one man after another to exploit their wealth — and so begins her descent into self-destruction. Bent on spotlighting the sordid aspects of human beings and their inherent cupidity, the film is filled with scenes of what some refer to as kitchen-sink realism. But set in Osaka, where the sprightly Kansai dialect prevails, it never gets to be too depressing, as if living up to the reputed upbeat nature of Osakans.

Likewise, other films to be screened at the festival have some Osaka elements, too. There will be a 15-minute documentary, for example, describing how the first municipal railway service started in the city in 1933, including the details of its construction.

“Osaka Cinema Stories: Co-organized with National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo” takes place at The National Museum of Art, Osaka, on March 16 and 17. Start times vary. Admission is free. For more information, call (06) 6447-4680, or visit www.nmao.go.jp.