Film Season: Kurosawa’s Samurai Films


Film Season: Samurai! …The Code According To Kurosawa

When: Saturday 5 – Monday 27 May

Where: The Star And Shadow Cinema (Directions)


Mifune and Kurosawa relax away from the set




The Seven Samurai (1954) – Sun 5 May 2013, 7:30 p.m.

Yojimbo (1961) – Sun 12 May 2013, 7:30 p.m.

Sanjuro (1962) – Sun 19 May 2013, 7:30 p.m.

The Hidden Fortress (1958) – Sun 26 May 2013, 7:30 p.m.


The shadow of Akira Kurosawa looms large over the wider landscape of Japanese cinema. Much in the same way that Alfred Hitchcock  will always be looked back upon as a master craftsman of suspense, Kurosawa will always be regarded as a master craftsman of the Samurai film, and although he was by no means limited only to that genre it’s certainly what he is best remembered for.

The Star and Shadow celebrates this with four of his greatest films which he made featuring his long time associate Toshiro Mifune, who Kurosawa once said the following about “I am proud of nothing I have done other than with him“. After 15 films working together the pair parted ways because of an argument stemming from the financial peril that Kurosawa’s (1965) film Red Beard was putting Mifune’s production company into. After some very public negative statements about one another the pair would not reconcile until meeting each other at a mutual friends funeral in 1993, however they would never work again and both passed away within a year of the meeting. A sad end to a story of two unbelievable talents rise to success, but you can celebrate their glory years working together onscreen on beautiful 35mm prints(!!!).


“A season of films celebrating the collaboration of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune.

As digital technology surplants celluloid, this is your last chance to see these classic films of world cinema on 35mm.

Samurai !  the word litterally means, ” Those who serve .”   Their code an ancient and unsparing unswerving allegiance to a single master, loyalty integrity and personal honour.

Their lives are dedicated to a constant honing of martial skills, and “The way of the Samurai is found in death.” – Star & Shadow




Film: The Echo Of Astro Boy’s Footsteps




Film: The Echo Of Astro Boy’s Footsteps (アトムの足音が聞こえる)

When: Friday 11 January, 19:30pm

Where: The Star and Shadow Cinema (Directions)



Once again Zipangu Fest is bringing another fantastic film up to Newcastle’s Star and Shadow cinema and once again we can’t wait for this!!


“In 1963, Japan’s first ever animated TV series began broadcasting, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy. The series itself has entered the realms of legend, with its main character a cultural icon across much of the world. But outside of the adventures of its little boy robot star, the series is also remembered for its futuristic sound effects, the creation of the pioneering sound designer Matsuo Ohno.


“Once you grasp a sound, it becomes part of this world. I’m not interested in sounds that already exist,” this trailblazer of electrical experimental music is quoted as saying, and indeed, Ohno can be attributed as creating whole new sonic worlds. His aural alchemy found itself deployed in the works of such ground-breaking filmmakers as Hiroshi Teshigahara and Toshio Matsumoto, and the spatial sound systems for the pavilions at the Expo ’85 in Tsukuba.


And then, in the 1980s, Ohno suddenly disappeared from the public eye. This riveting documentary follows his career through the eyes of those who worked with him and the experimental musicians whom he inspired, through a combination of hypnotic sounds and extraordinary images as those left by the Astro Boy’s footsteps leads us to a revelation that is as moving as it is unexpected.


With narration provided by the world-renowned Pizzicato Five vocalist Maki Nomiya, and the film’s own sound design by the electronic musician Pardon Kimura, Mochinaga’s film features rare scenes and sounds from animated films such as Lupin the 3rdSpace Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam.” — Zipangu Fest


Film: Somi – The Taekwon-do Woman




Film: Somi: The Taekwon-do Woman (ソミ:高麗女人拳士)

When: Friday 9th of Novemnber – 19:30

Where: Star and Shadow Cinema  (Directions)


Price: £5/£3.50


The Star and Shadow cinema, in association with Zipangu Fest, will be showing this highly unusual North Korea/Japan co-production! Screened for the first time in the West…as if you needed any more convincing!!!


“All is not well in the medieval Kingdom of Koryo (918-1392), a distant precursor of today’s Korea, ruled over by a corrupt dynasty in the north. While the Koryo overlords become bloated on a lifestyle of luxury and decadence, a series of farmer’s revolts rock the country, only to be mercilessly quashed. During one such uprising, the parents of a young girl, Somi, are ruthlessly murdered by the brutal government vassal Hyon Ryu Bal. The shock causes Somi to lose her voice, as she flees by boat for her life. She is rescued and taken in by Dosa, a white-haired martial arts master, along with another young boy from Somi’s village, Ung Gom, orphaned in the same raid. As Dosa raises the two in his martial arts school, Somi and Ung Gom grow up together like brother and sister, waiting until their day of vengeance arrives.


On the surface, Somi – The Taekwon-do Woman may not look like a Japanese film, and one doesn’t think often think of Japan in relation to international co-productions, especially during the 1990s. However, the film was financed 100% on the Japanese side and was intended for an international audience, to be released under the alternative English title ofWoman Warrior of Koryo. The story follows a similar narrative arc to that celebrated Japanese tale of tyranny and revenge, Lady Snowblood, but benefits from the sets, locations and solid craftsmanship provided by its North Korean cast and crew, resulting in a far higher production values than one would expect of a historical martial arts action movie made in Japan during the same period.


According to the film’s producer, Masao Kobayashi, the actress playing Somi, Ri Mi Yang, was an amateur who was chosen by the North Koreans “because they thought that the Japanese might like her face”. As fortune would have it, however, the film was only screened once in Japan, at the Yubari Film Festival in 2001. It didn’t fare much better in North Korea either, screening only once on its premiere on New Year’s eve 1997/98. Meanwhile global political developments saw potential markets for the film closing, and though an English-language 35mm print was prepared, it was never used outside of its international festival debut at Yubari and remained in storage, until now…” – Zipangu Fest


This looks like its going to be something VERY special!




Tomorrow night the Star and Shadow cinema are screening King Kong Vs Godzilla, which is rather special. So in its honour we present 20 facts about Godzilla, to get you up to speed for tomorrow.


  1. By 2014 there will have been 30 films in the franchise all together, 28 Japanese films and 2 American versions.
  2. The first film in the series was released in 1954, named ‘Godzilla’ and directed by Ishirō Honda
  3. Ishirō Honda directed 8 Godzilla films in total between 1954-75, Including the 4th film in the franchise King Kong Vs Godzilla
  4. Godzilla was originally conceived by special effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya to be a giant octopus.
  5. The Japanese name for Godzilla is Gojira (ゴジラ) and is a portmanteau of the Japanese words for Gorilla (Gorira -ゴリラ) and Whale (Kujira -くじら)
  6. Godzilla’s English name is only his name due to an error in the original translation, technically his name should be Gozira
  7. Godzilla’s distinctive roar is created by covering a leather glove in resin, rubbing it against the loosened strings of a double bass and slowing down the playback
  8. Godzilla himself is a prehistoric survivor from the era of the dinosaurs who was later mutated by nuclear radiation
  9. Godzilla (1954) was released just 9 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is widely accepted that Godzilla himself is a metaphor for the events.
  10. One of Godzilla’s greatest foes was his robotic doppelganger Mechagodzilla who was apparently made of ‘space titanium’
  11.  Possibly the deadliest weapon in Godzilla’s arsenal is his atomic breath, although occasionally his has been known to use martial arts as well
  12. In addition to the films starring Godzilla, there have been 18 other films set in the same universe, including 4 starring Godzilla’s sometimes friend, sometimes foe, Mothra
  13. When not destroying cities, Godzilla is a family man and has an adoptive son (also an atomic dinosaur) named Minilla (ミニラ)
  14. The American Godzilla from the 1998 movie is known by fans as ‘Zilla – The movie and the monster was very badly received by fans
  15. In Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla battles ‘Zilla and destroys him in under 30 seconds by throwing him into the Sydney Opera House and blowing him up with his atomic breath
  16. Godzilla: Final Wars is the latest Godzilla film being released in 2004
  17. The next Godzilla film will be released in 2014, and is being directed by British director Gareth Edwards who previously directed the film ‘Monsters’
  18. Godzilla’s personality and appearance changed from film to film, sometimes cartoonish in features and friendly towards mankind, sometime more feral and destructive
  19. Godzilla was one of the first films, post world war two, to be screened in Korean cinemas
  20. While the above may have been good for Korea-Japan relations it was not for South Korean producer/director Sang-ok Shin. Shin was kidnapped by North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il and forced to produce movies for him, including a film heavily inspired by Godzilla, named Pulgasari.


Film: Matango



Film: Matango (マタンゴ)

When: Sunday 23rd of September – 19:30

Where: Star and Shadow Cinema  (Directions)


Price: £5/£3.50


Living in an abandoned shipwreck covered in moss and fungus, the characters are severely tested by hunger and desire. Between the dwindling provisions, simmering resentments and sexual tensions, they weaken one by one and consume the prolific and prodigious fungi despite well-founded fears that the mushrooms degenerate the nervous system.


The “laughing mushrooms,” as they are called provide a sense of well-being and take away the hunger, but gradually transform the diner into a walking shitake with a bad attitude and a “come join us” agenda. – From Star & Shadow


This looks like it’s going to be a real gem and amazingly it’s on 35mm print as well! And frankly how could you say no to a film that was released in America under the title ‘Attack of the Mushroom People’?


Film: King Kong Vs Godzilla



Film: King Kong Vs Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ)

When: Thursday 20th of September – 19:30

Where: Star and Shadow Cinema  (Directions)


Price: £5/£3.50


It’s a battle for the ages, the throw-down in Tokyo, two titans fighting one on one for the title of the ultimate monster! The irresistible force meets the immovable object and whoever wins…we loose!


King Kong vs Godzilla is the third installment in the Godzilla series and was created as a special attraction tocelebrate Toho, the film’s creators, thirtieth anniversary. It marks both the first time that either of the monsters appeared on screen in colour and the first time, of two, that King Kong appears in the Godzilla franchise. You don’t want to miss this extra rare chance to not only see the film on the big screen, but from a 35mm print!

Film Event: Ran

This Event has now passed

Film: Ran (乱) w/Introduction and discussion

When: 17th of June – 7:30pm

Where: The Star and Shadow Cinema (Directions)


Price: £5/£3.50 (conc) (£1 membership to Star and Shadow required)

The Star and Shadow, as part of their alternative Shakespeare season, presents the master of classic Japanese cinema Akira Kurosawa’s (黒澤) adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, transported to Japan and mixed into the legendary story of Mōri Motonari. The film took Kurosawa over ten years to research and make, Ran was his last epic film and was released in 1985. Don’t miss this rare opotunity to see this visually stunning film on the big screen.

Synopsis (from the Star and Shadow)

The aging Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai in a monumental performance) decrees that his land be divided among his 3 sons (changed from Shakespeare’s three daughters). Blinded by the flattery of the two older sons, he banishes his youngest for speaking the truth.

The remaining heirs, driven by power and greed, shun their father and turn on each other. A broken man, Hidetora descends into madness as he watches the kingdom he had held together for fifty years disintegrate into apocalyptic destruction.

Film Event: Eat The Kimono


Film: Eat The Kimono (W/Guest Speaker)

When: Thursday 24th May – 7:30pm

Where: The Star and Shadow Cinema (Directions)


Price: FREE (£1 membership to Star and Shadow required)

As part of the ‘Louder Now! Feminism on Film’ season the Star and Shadow presents the documentary Eat the Kimono about Hanayagi Genshu, a Japanese dancer, actress, feminist and political activist who challenged the conservative culture of Japan.

After spending 8 months in prison for stabbing a dance teacher, Genshu returned to her life as a performer and began to challenge Japanese conventions by performing her dance routines in a kimono whilst wearing an oversized doll’s head. Across her life Genshu made public clams of racism towards Koreans in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Japan and denounced Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal. The title comes from her famous quote “You mustn’t be eaten by the kimono. You must eat the kimono, and gobble it up.”

The event will feature a guest speaker: Dr Nobuko Anan (Northumbria University) – “Dr Anan’s main research interests are modern and contemporary Japanese theatre/performance and visual arts, and the way that they intersect with nationhood and gender/sexuality in transnational contexts.”