Seiyukai sosai Tanaka Giichi-shi enzetsu (The Speech of Prime Minister Tanaka). 1928. Japan. In Japanese; English subtitles. 6 min.

"The only surviving film produced by Showa Kinema, the first company of pioneering sound-film producer Yoshizo Minagawa, records a speech by conservative Prime Minister Giichi Tanaka, who served from from 1927 to 1929, when he resigned after a dispute with the Emperor. The film features Tanaka standing in front of black drapes, talking directly into the camera as he presents his position on issues ranging from the economy to diplomacy and foreign policy. The identity of the cameraman is unknown, as is the exact date of shooting, but the film passed state censorship on February 6th, 1928, shortly before elections for the House of Representatives, the lower house of Japan’s Diet. As a historical record, the film is important since it not only constitutes Japan's earliest surviving sound film, but also provides a record of concerns central to Japanese politics in the late 1920s."

Fujiwara Yoshie no Furusato (Home Town). 1930. Japan. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. In Japanese; English subtitles. 86 min.

With Yoshie Fujiwara, Shizue Natsukawa, Isamu Kosugi, Takako Irie. "Home Town was the first sound film both of its director, Kenji Mizoguchi, and of his studio, Nikkatsu, who co-produced it with sound-film pioneer Yoshizo Minagawa’s second company, Mina Talkie. Yoshie Fujiwara, a European-trained tenor who was the leading Japanese opera singer of the time, played the lead role. A part-talkie, it combines the mobile camerawork of the scenes shot silent with a self-conscious exploration of the rich potential of the new medium, especially in the use of the title song as performed by Fujiwara. The star’s fame, coupled with the novelty of sound, helped to win a limited degree of commercial success and some favourable reviews for this entertaining melodrama. As Mark LeFanu writes, 'the soundtrack brings Tokyo to life. There is a fine sense of documentary immediacy.... As in many films on the cusp of the silent era, sound is used here with an experimental confidence—a verve, a bravura—that was subsequently lost as sound movies "naturalised" themselves by concentrating merely on registering dialogue clearly.'"

  1. Wednesday, May 13, 2015,
    7:00 p.m.

    The Museum of Modern Art, Floor T2, Theater 2
  2. Wednesday, May 6, 2015,
    4:00 p.m.

    The Museum of Modern Art, Floor T2, Theater 2