TIFF announces <em>POP Japan</em> series celebrating Japanese film and art May 10 – June 27

media release

April 6, 2023

TIFF announces POP Japan series celebrating Japanese film and art May 10 – June 27

Three film programmes featuring works from Seijun Suzuki, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, Masaaki Yuasa, and more

Art activations and free public programming animate TIFF’s public spaces

A still from Spirited Away

Spirted Away (2001)

TORONTO — TIFF is excited to announce POP Japan, a new series celebrating the convergence of the cult, pulp, and popular in Japanese film and art, running at TIFF Bell Lightbox from May 10 to June 27. POP Japan features three film series: Seijun Suzuki, marking the iconoclast director’s centenary with six newly restored 35mm prints, the second stop in a national tour spotlighting Suzuki’s rebellious storytelling, and World of Anime, a retrospective of Japan’s most influential anime films, both generously supported by the Japan Foundation, Toronto. The third series is a four-film ode to the “godfather of animation” and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, in anticipation of his summer theatrical release How Do You Live?

Pop Japan represents the dynamic new direction of Public Programming at TIFF to showcase exciting, original, international film spotlights year-round, making TIFF Bell Lightbox a must-visit destination,” said Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer, TIFF.

POP Japan will launch with a series of events at TIFF Bell Lightbox, starting on Wednesday, May 10 with a screening of Suzuki’s 1981 film, Kagero-za, part of the Japanese visionary’s daring and much-acclaimed Taisho Trilogy. The screening is preceded by a reception, featuring DJ Sakiko Nagai, to mark the opening of a free public art exhibition featuring works by multidisciplinary artists Mitsuo Kimura and Toko Hosoya. On Saturday, May 13, Ikebana artist Aya Sugino will demonstrate the centuries-old Japanese art of arranging flowers and plants ― each creation inspired by a different film in the POP Japan series. A live-painted mural programmed in partnership with StreetARToronto and supported by the Japan Foundation, Toronto will also be on view throughout the run of the series. A Silent Voice: The Movie, directed by Naoko Yamada, one of anime’s few women filmmakers, is screening on June 30, as part of Silver Screenings, free to those 65+.

“We’re excited to present a diverse selection of films in this series, many of which started on the cultural margins like Suzuki’s pulpy pop art noirs to anime that exploded into the North American mainstream in the ’90s,” said Robyn Citizen, Director of Festival Programming & Cinematheque, TIFF. “Suzuki’s riotous use of colour and genre anticipated the aesthetics and tone of later anime including the Lupin the 3rd series.”

Highlights of the programme include a special screening of Tokyo Drifter on May 24, Suzuki’s centenary; the 35th anniversary screenings of Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro and Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s post-apocalyptic film Akira, considered one of the most influential anime films of all time, and presented in partnership with the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival.

More programming details will be available on tiff.net on April 12.


POP Japan: Seijun Suzuki
Having directed more than 50 films, Suzuki’s singular career spans not only decades but a kaleidoscope of genres, each an experiment in formal innovation and rebellious storytelling.Though never garnering the international recognition of his peers, Suzuki’s explosion of genre conventions won acolytes in American filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, whose Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 are a direct link to his stylistic legacy.

Kagero-za (1981) - May 10
Carmen from Kawachi (1966) - May 13
Love Letter (1959) - May 13
Satan’s Town (1956) - May 17
A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness (1977) - May 18
Tokyo Drifter (1966) - May 24

35mm prints of Suzuki Seijun’s films were imported and provided by the Film Library of the Japan Foundation’s headquarters in Tokyo.

POP Japan: Miyazaki Spotlight
As a director, animator, producer, author, artist, screenwriter, and outspoken pacifist, Miyazaki’s politics of humanism, feminism, and environmentalism colour his rich and absorbing worlds, which are often inhabited by tenacious young girls who undergo enlightening and spirit-guided transformations. Within this spotlight TIFF presents two such stories: My Neighbor Totoro and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, co-presented in partnership with the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. Each film is steeped in wonder, deep compassion, and Japanese mythology. These beloved classics are bookended by Miyakazi’s Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro, an adaptation of Monkey Punch’s popular Lupin III manga series, in addition to his last film, The Wind Rises (2013), an epic reimagining of the life of a famous Japanese aviation engineer.

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) - May 13
My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - May 30 (35th Anniversary)
Spirited Away (2001) - June 4
The Wind Rises (2013) - June 17

POP Japan: World of Anime
In this nine-film retrospective of beautiful, surprising, and deeply-meaningful anime, films are unified by the theme of transformation, co-curated by TIFF and professor Yuki Ohsawa.

Neo Tokyo (1987) - May 24
*Akira (1988) - May 25 & June 13 (35th Anniversary)
Ghost in the Shell (1995) - June 1
Memories (1995) - June 3
Perfect Blue (1997) - June 3
Metropolis (2001) - June 9
Mind Game (2004) - June 11
Paprika (2006) - June 21 (Presented by TIFF Next Wave)
A Silent Voice: The Movie (2016) - June 27

POP Japan is free to members and tickets to the programme will be available on April 12. Public tickets will go on sale on April 14.

* Programming Update as of May 12, 2023: Akira is no longer screening in the POP Japan series. Maikeru Ariasu’s 2006 film Tekkonkinkreet has been added to the lineup.

Press Contact

Netta Rondinelli

Senior Manager, Communications


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About TIFF
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival®in September; TIFF Lightbox, which features five cinemas, learning and entertainment facilities; and the innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $200 million CAD. TIFF Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel, and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation, and RBC. For more information, visit tiff.net.

TIFF is generously supported by Major Sponsors RBC and Visa, and Major Supporters: the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, and City of Toronto.

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