PhilaMOCA is showing obscure Japanese films never before released in the U.S.

"Samurai Pirate" is a Sinbad-style adventure epic.
“Samurai Pirate” is a Sinbad-style adventure epic.

The Unknown Japan series, presenting rare Japanese films which have never been released in the U.S. on any format, is in its sixth season. But for curator and PhilaMOCA director Eric Bresler, the fascination with Japanese film dates back much further.

“It was the first realm of international cinema that I ever sat down and studied seriously,” Bresler says. “That goes way back to high school and watching boutique VHS label releases of Japanese films. Film for film I’ve always found it to be the most enriching of all world cinemas.”

Through the biannual Unknown Japan series, Bresler brings the fruits of his particular obsession to Philadelphia audiences. While some might take such an opportunity to binge on some of the extremely odd fare that the country has been known to produce, Bresler aims for a more wide-ranging sampling of its cinematic output. “The whole idea of the series is to introduce both Japanese movie lovers and the uninitiated to this worthwhile world of cinema,” he explains. “So the films are obscure and they’re rare, but I also always make sure that they’re accessible.”

The current six-week series runs the gamut from 1950s family fare, to late-’60s new wave romance, to a contemporary commercial film about collegiate time travelers. While he purposely programs with diversity in mind as far as genres and time periods, Bresler keeps the season in mind for both his summer and winter series. The series began with “Summer Time Machine Blues” (2005), and will end with 1968’s “Farewell to the Summer Light,” set during the end of summer as the season transitions into fall.

In between, the fare tends toward brighter, happier themes. “Peach Boy” is a 1956 family film with puppetry, talking animals and musical numbers. “Summer Garden” (1994) is a heart-warming coming-of-age story, while “Samurai Pirate” (1963) features legendary actor Toshiro Mifune in a Sinbad-style adventure epic. The series’ strangest entry is “The Drifting Classroom,” an English-language film by cult director Nobuhiko Obayashi of “House” fame starring Troy Donahue.

“It all adds up to this really strange, awkward film that has a lot of director Obayashi’s typical off-the-wall special effects,” Bresler says. “And like all his films, even his goriest horror films, there’s a real heart to the film which you don’t expect.”

Unknown Japan 6
Wednesdays, through Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m.
PhilaMOCA
531 N. 12th St.
Free
www.philamoca.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…