Tanaka Kinuyo, Director
Screening Dates
New Restoration

Tanaka’s debut is a daring wonder filmed with true visual flair and an unusual degree of assuredness … Love Letter approaches its subjects with extreme sensitivity.”

Hayley Scanlon, Windows on Worlds

Celebrated actor Tanaka Kinuyo’s impressive directorial debut—just the second Japanese feature directed by a woman (the first was 1936’s New Clothing, by Sakane Tazuko)—is a moving melodrama set against Japan’s difficult postwar years. After melancholy navy veteran Reikichi (Mori Masayuki) finds much-needed work translating letters for Japanese women who’ve been involved with American G.I.s, he reencounters Michiko (Kuga Yoshiko), his lost love, and learns of her misfortunes. Tanaka’s sensitive film treats the delicate subject of the fallen women” who resorted to sex work during the Allied occupation—some in euphemistically named special comfort facilities” set up by Japan’s government for foreign troops. The script, from Niwa Fumio’s novel, is by noted director Kinoshita Keisuke, who, like Ozu and Naruse (and unlike Mizoguchi), encouraged Tanaka’s directing ambitions. Released in Japan in 1953—the same auspicious year as Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu and Ozu’s Tokyo StoryLove Letter was an official selection at Cannes in 1954.

Scheduling note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Love Letter will no longer screen on May 22.

Love Letter reveals a genuine lyrical talent.”

Donald Richie, The Japanese Film

Exquisitely sensitive.”

Kristin M. Jones, Wall Street Journal
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