Itami Juzo’s Ten Digitally Restored 4K Films Are Featured at HKIFF47’s Entire Retrospective of His Work

Hong Kong—The 90th birth anniversary of the maverick Japanese director Itami Juzo will be honored at the 47th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF47) with a complete retrospective of his ten films, all of which have been digitally restored in 4K.

The son of legendary director Itami Mansaku, Itami Juzo was born in Kyoto in 1933. Before making his mark as an actor with award-winning performances in Kon Ichikawa’s The Makioka Sisters and Morita Yoshimitsu’s The Family Game, the versatile Itami had successful careers in designing, writing, and even magazine editing.

A late starter, the then 51-year-old Itami directed his debut feature in 1984. The bawdy and witty satire THE FUNERAL signaled the arrival of a filmmaker who was not afraid to confront the absurdity of Japanese culture’s traditional and conservative aspects.

Image courtesy of HKIFF47

Acclaimed for his rich filmography that abounds in humorous, sensual, and surreal pleasures, Itami’s best-known comedies—Tampopo (Dandelion) and THE SUPERMARKET WOMAN—showcase his gentle and whimsical sense of community spirit that celebrates the ordinary. 

A stylistic departure, the empathetic drama A QUIET LIFE, inspired by his brother-in-law and Nobel Prize laureate Oe Kenzaburo’s novel, epitomizes Itami’s characteristic humanity. 

Itami’s collaboration with his wife and muse, actor Nobuko Miyamoto, brought fresh comedic perspectives to female-driven narratives. From berating corporate corruption in A TAXING WOMAN and its sequel, A TAXING WOMAN’S RETURN, to his satirical commentary on political conspiracy in A-Ge-Man X Tales of a Golden Geisha, Itami targeted shady practices and ills in the economically straitened post-Bubble Japanese society.

Image courtesy of HKIFF47

Before his untimely demise, Itami built a reputation as an enfant terrible of Japanese cinema.  His films, many of them international hits, are original, often mischievous, and constantly pushing boundaries. THE LAST DANCE and his final work, MARUTAI, exemplify Itami’s disdain against violence, intimidation and even mortality by drawing from his personal experience about the mob attack after the release of MINBO OR THE GENTLE ART OF JAPANESE EXTORTION. They are powerful statements proclaiming his advocacy for fairness and justice, which have been his lifelong themes.      

Following last year’s adjournment, HKIFF47 returns to its traditional dates. It will run from March 30 to April 10 and feature physical, in-theater screenings, audience-engagement events, alongside a bespoke online programme. In March, this year’s complete programme for HKIFF47 will be made public.

The Itami Juzo Retrospective will feature the following ten films:

1984       THE FUNERAL

1985       Tampopo (Dandelion)

1987       A TAXING WOMAN

1988       A TAXING WOMAN’S RETURN

1990       A-Ge-Man X Tales of a Golden Geisha

1992       MINBO OR THE GENTLE ART OF JAPANESE EXTORTION

1993       THE LAST DANCE

1995       A QUIET LIFE

1996       THE SUPERMARKET WOMAN

1997       MARUTAI