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Tokyo Sonata

Modern Masters

Kiyoshi Kurosawa / Feature Narrative / Japan, Netherlands, Hong Kong / 2008 / 119 min / 35mm
In Japanese / Arabic, English subtitles
Interests: Drama
Rated: Mature subject matter. Not suitable for minors. Individuals under the age of 18 are not admitted into cinemas.


  • Mon, Mar 18, 07:30 PM, MIA-A
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In ‘Tokyo Sonata’, Kiyoshi Kurosawa—acclaimed master of the slow burning psychological horror—turns his attention instead to “Gendai-geki” (films dealing with contemporary life). A portrait of a seemingly ordinary Japanese family, the film follows hard working husband Ryuhei, his dutiful wife Megumi and their two sons, Kenji and Takashi.

Ryuhei becomes a victim of ‘downsizing’ when his job is outsourced to China. Ashamed, he does his best to maintain his appearance as family head and primary breadwinner by leaving the house every morning, briefcase in hand, to spend his days in the park with other salary men who are ‘in between’ jobs. In his absence, the other members of the family live their own deceptions with his youngest son secretly taking piano lessons and his eldest joining the U.S. military, convincing his mother to sign the papers without telling his father.

At its heart, 'Tokyo Sonata' is about the discomfort that arises when humans cannot honestly express the emotions they experience, as each person struggles to find freedom and fulfilment in what has become a life of overwhelming structure and rules. Aesthetically, it is nothing short of outstanding. As always, Kurosawa masterfully controls his film’s framing and sound design, and his handling of the family’s dynamic challenges viewers to contemplate how societal standards might be shaping our own behavior.

About the Director

Born in 1955 in Hyogo Prefecture, Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a world-renowned film director, writer, film critic, and professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. After graduating from Rikkyo University, where he produced 8mm independent films, Kurosawa made his commercial feature film directorial debut in 1983 with 'Kandagawa Wars'. He attracted international attention with 'Cure' (1997), and went on to deliver other notable works including 'License to Live' (1998), 'Barren Illusion' (1999), and 'Charisma' (1999).

His film 'Pulse' (2000) was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. His subsequent films received acclaim at home and abroad, including 'Bright Future' (2002), which was selected in competition at Cannes in 2003, 'Doppelganger' (2002), 'Loft' (2005), and 'Retribution' (2006), which screened at that year’s Venice Film Festival.

'Tokyo Sonata' (2008) won the Jury Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, and Best Film at the 2009 Asian Film Awards. Recent works include 'Real' (2013), 'Seventh Code' (2013), which won Best Director at that year’s Rome Film Festival, 'Journey to the Shore' (2014), winner of Best Director in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section and the 33rd Kawakita Award in 2015, 'Creepy' (2016), an official selection of that year’s Berlin International Film Festival, and 'Daguerrotype' (2016) which marked Kurosawa’s first overseas production, made with a French cast and crew.

Kurosawa was the recipient of the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival’s Samurai Award. His 2017 film 'Before We Vanish' screened in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard and its spin-off 'Foreboding' in Berlinale’s Panorama. His latest film, 'To the Ends of the Earth' (working title) is a co-production with Uzbekistan, shot entirely on location.


Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Max Mannix, Kiyoshi Kurosawa & Sachiko
Yukie Kito & Wouter Barendrecht
Koichi Takahashi
Associate Producer
Raymond Phathanavirangoon
Executive Producer
Yasushi Kotani & Michael J. Werner
Hirohisa Mukuju
Kazumasa Hashimoto
Akiko Ashizawa
Sales Company
Fortissimo Films
Masayuki Iwakura
Ryuhei Sasaki - Teruyuki Kagawa Megumi sasaki - Kyoko koizumi Takashi Sasaki - Yu Koyanagi Kenji Sasaki - Kai Inowaki Kaneko - Haruka Igawa Kurosu - Kanji Tsuda Thief - Koji Yakusho

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