#13 Kinuyo Tanaka

Director of the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema
by Pascal-Alex Vincent

Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-1977) was one of the greatest stars of Japanese cinema. With a career that began in silent films and ended in television, his career is one of the most impressive of the golden age of studios. His collaboration with filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi gave rise to some of the most famous films in Asian cinema, such as La Vie d'Oharu femme galante (1952), Tales of the Moon Wave after the Rain (1953) or The Intendant Sansho ( 1954). She also filmed for Hiroshi Shimizu, Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse or Kon Ichikawa, and her filmography of more than two hundred films includes a large number of masterpieces.

In 1953, Kinuyo Tanaka decided to go behind the camera, thus becoming the first post-war female filmmaker. Her career as a director was strewn with pitfalls. The actress was nevertheless able to successfully direct six feature films for different studios. The adventure of this pioneer deserved to be told.

Love letter , melodrama around a lost love, The Moon has risen , comedy of romantic feelings, “à la Ozu”, Eternal motherhood , sensitive journey of a woman standing in turmoil, The Wandering Princess , fresco spectacular taken from a true story, La Nuit des femmes , an edifying account of the return to life of a young prostitute, and Mademoiselle Ogin , a flamboyant amorous odyssey in costume, are so many unforgettable portraits of women, portraits that bear witness to a singular voice in the great history of classic Japanese cinema.

Pascal-Alex Vincent is a filmmaker and teacher at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. He coordinated two dictionaries of Japanese cinema published by Carlotta Films.