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Otouto (About Her Brother)

After her husband’s death, Ginko, her daughter Koharu and Ginko’s mother-in-law take over the Takano pharmacy. But Koharu is about to get married. After the wedding she is going to move in with her husband and will have to leave her mother and grandmother to run the business alone. But she is not happy about this.

Ginko’s younger brother Tetsuro suddenly appears at the wedding reception. He is the black sheep of the family – a failed singer who earns a living working selling fried fish on a street stall. Enchanted by his beautiful niece, Tetsuro gets carried away and puts on a little performance in honour of the bridal couple. His performance shocks the relatives to such an extent that Ginko is obliged to apologise for her brother. The next morning she admonishes her contrite brother, insisting that he forget his dreams of fame and concentrate on his fish stall.

Some time later Koharu surprises Ginko with a visit: her marriage it seems is on the rocks and, before long, the relationship breaks for good. Soon afterwards, Ginko receives a visit from a woman from Osaka, Hitomi, who introduces herself as Tetsuro’s wife. Tetsuro she says is in the throes of drinking and gambling himself to death. Ginko gives the woman some of her savings. Then Tetsure appears at his sister’s place. The siblings quarrel badly and break off all contact. The years go by and then, one day, Ginko receives a phone call asking her to come to Osaka … In “Otouto” director Yoji Yamada tells the turbulent story of a middle-class family.

[Synopsis courtesy of the Berlin International Film Festival]

Kabei: Our Mother

The latest film from Yoji Yamada depicts the strong bond between a mother and her family during WWII. Set in Tokyo in 1940, the peaceful life of the Nogami Family suddenly changes when the father, Shigeru, is arrested and accused of being a Communist. His wife Kayo works frantically from morning to night to maintain the household and bring up her two daughters with the support of Shigeru’s sister Hisako and Shigeru’s ex-student Yamazaki, but her husband does not return. WWII breaks out and casts dark shadows on the entire country, but Kayo still tries to keep her cheerful determination, and sustains the family with her love. [Synopsis courtesy of Strand Releasing]

The Little House

Following the death of the unmarried and childless Taki, Takeshi, a young relative of hers, discovers several pages of closely written lines in which the old lady has recorded her memories. This is how he learns the truth about her youth working as a housemaid and nanny for the Hirai family in a little house in Tokyo with a red gabled roof. Masaki is both head of the house and head of department at a toy factory. Whilst he has visions of his company expanding in the wake of Japan’s aggressive expansionist policies of the early 1940s, his wife Tokiko falls in love with his young colleague, art school graduate Shoji, whom she visits in secret. (Synopsis courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival)

The Hidden Blade

Set in 19th Century Japan a young samurai who finds himself in love with a farm girl leaves his home to begin a new life. He has to take stock of his new life when he is put to the test and ordered to kill a traitor who just happens to be his dearest friend.

The Twilight Samurai

Seibei Iguchi leads a difficult life as a low ranking samurai at the turn of the nineteenth century. A widower with a meager income, Seibei struggles to take care of his two daughters and senile mother. New prospects seem to open up when the beautiful Tomoe, a childhood friend, comes back into he and his daughters’ life, but as the Japanese feudal system unravels, Seibei is still bound by the code of honor of the samurai and by his own sense of social precedence. How can he find a way to do what is best for those he loves?