June 2023

Film Committee


Join us on Monday, June 26 at 6 pm for a sneak preview of Takeshi Fukunaga’s haunting third film, a mythic tale of female repression and liberation. As Mountain Woman opens, Rin (a luminous Anna Yamada) goes about the grim task of helping a family dispose of a newborn baby. It is a scene befitting a horror film, but her Tohoku village is in its second year of a devastating famine, and babies are being discarded because they are simply extra mouths to feed. Rin’s family are outcasts, and she is obliged to do the other residents’ dirty work. When a local seer declares the village cursed, Rin is chosen as the first virgin sacrifice to appease the gods. Before that can happen, she flees to the forbidden realm of Mt. Hayachine. There, her quest for survival gradually transforms into a journey to self-actualization. This evocative film (beautifully shot in all-natural lighting by cinematographer Daniel Satinoff of Tokyo Vice), may be set in the late 18th century, but its existential tale of man-versus-nature, rural human cruelty, generational shame, and individual resilience in the face of impossibly harsh discrimination resonates across the centuries. Mountain Woman is bleak and atmospheric in a way that will remind audiences of social-realist films from Japan’s golden era, such as The Ballad of Narayama. Cinema may have changed, but as this film reminds us, times have not. The director and his star will be on hand for a Q&A session after the screening. (Japan, 2022, 100 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles).

Watch trailer

Karen Severns is chair of the FCCJ film committee