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
National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures, September 19,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on September 19, 20 and 21. There will be many streets and…

Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Television

'Outlander' Season 1, Episode 7: 'The Wedding'

Claire and Jamie are man and wife!!! Like, ALL THE WAY, if you know what we mean. (Twice.)

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…