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Tuesday, August 08, 2017, 18:15 - 21:30

A sweeping epic puts a fresh spin on the battle that defined Japan's future

Sneak Preview Screening: SEKIGAHARA featuring a Q&A
with director Masato Harada and Takehiro Hira

Tuesday, August 8 at 6:15 pm*

*Please note early start time.sekigahara for web 356p
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2017 149 minutes  

Director: Masato Harada
Writer: Masato Harada, based on the novel by Ryotaro Shiba
Producers: Minami Ichikawa, Masa Sano
Junichi Okada, Kasumi Arimura, Takehiro Hira,
Masahiro Higashide, Koji Yakusho

Film courtesy of Toho and Asmik Ace            

Leave it to master storyteller Masato Harada to delve into one of Japanese history's watershed episodes, and to emerge with a powerful reinterpretation that completely overturns our conventional understanding of its key players, transforming their fateful conflict into a war between justice and absolute power.

Directing just his second jidaigeki period drama (after 2015's "Kakekomi") and adapting a best-selling 3-volume novel, Harada populates "Sekigahara" with a teeming assortment of historic characters and enough political intrigue, Machiavellian maneuvering and exciting ninja action for an entire miniseries. But his focus is resolutely on the motives and strategies of the two men whose forces would meet for the final showdown in a foggy Gifu valley: Mitsunari Ishida and Ieyasu Tokugawa.

The battle of Sekigahara, fought on a single day in 1600, is considered the defining moment of Japan's future. Lasting just six hours, with forces estimated to number 180,000 - 30,000 of whom would not survive - its outcome brought to an end the centuries-long Warring States period. By 1603, the victor was named shogun and ushered in the peace, stability and growth that would last throughout the 260 years of the Edo period.
Shortly after "Sekigahara" opens, Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Kenichi Takito), the samurai who had completed the unification process begun by Nobunaga Oda, is on his deathbed. His devoted acolyte, Mitsunari (Okada), vows to protect Hideyoshi's five-year-old heir until he is old enough to rule, but the cunning, power-hungry Ieyasu (Yakusho, never better) has other ideas. Hideyoshi's hold on western Japan has been weakened by a series of costly invasions of Korea, while Ieyasu has become the largest landowner in eastern Japan. With Hideyoshi gone, he begins consolidating his expanded power base, forging alliances with notable daimyo families and hatching plots with his servant-conspiracy partner to undermine Toyotomi clan rule.

Mitsunari cannot compete with Ieyasu's record as a military general, but he won't stand by as the older man gains dangerous ground. Stolid but determined to persist in his belief that justice alone can create a world without chaos, he enlists the help of Sakon Shima (Hira), the most honorable samurai in the land, and the two set about rallying support. He also begins to rely on intelligence reports from the comely ninja Hatsume (Arimura), whom he had saved from death and soon falls in love with. But she goes on an errand for him just as Ieyasu is gathering his troops. Mitsunari's Western Army, under his motto "one for all, all for one," outnumbers his rival's astern Army and victory should be assured. But nothing in this cleverly convoluted narrative is as it seems…

Please join us for this sneak preview of the hard-charging "Sekigahara" ahead of its Japanese release on August 26.

For more (in Japanese):

Writer-director MASATO HARADA is acclaimed for a range of compelling films that have successfully merged social criticism with world-class entertainment. He has received international attention for such titles as "Kamikaze Taxi" (1994), which marked his first collaboration with star Koji Yakusho, "Jubaku: Spellbound" (1999), "Climber's High" (2008, marking his first appearance at FCCJ), "Chronicle of My Mother" (2011), "Kakekomi" (2015) and "The Emperor in August" (2015), which won him Japan Academy Prizes for both Best Screenplay and Best Director.
Playing Sakon Shima, the "most honorable samurai of our time," TAKEHIRO HIRA is sure to become a familiar face to international filmgoers after his commanding performance in "Sekigahara." While he has appeared in Takashi Miike's "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai" (2011), "Lesson of the Evil" (2012) and "Ace Attorney" (2012), among other films, he is better known for his extensive television work, including his role as the last shogun, Yoshinobu Tokugawa, in the NHK taiga drama "Atsuhime" (2008). Hira went to high school in the US and attended Brown University. He is the son of acclaimed actor Mikijiro Hira.

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.   

- Karen Severns, Film Committee

sekigahara for web 290p.jpg
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