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Animals in Japanese Cinema

June 13 – July 28

Animals play many expressive roles in Japanese cinema, both in their own right and in their dealings with humans. With examples from a variety of film genres including jidai-geki (period drama), bungei eiga (literary narrative), and kaijū eiga (monster film), and comprising a selection of animations, shorts, and fiction features, a number of these works also make use of elements from other art forms such as Kabuki and Noh theater traditions. The animal characters — whether playing major or minor roles, or simply added as embellishments — include mythological creatures, talking animals, monster and shape-shifters, household pets, and animals admired for their beauty or athleticism. Animals in Japanese Cinema has been organized in conjunction with the exhibition The Life of Animals in Japanese Art and is copresented with support from The Japan Foundation as part of Japan 2019, a series of events highlighting Japanese arts and culture in the United States throughout the year. With special thanks to Marty Gross, Kenji Matsumoto, and Koji Nozaki.

still from Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985, subtitles, 162 minutes)
courtesy Photofest

Film programs

The National Gallery of Art’s film program provides many opportunities throughout the year to view classic and contemporary cinema from around the world.

View the current schedule here.

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