An artful stylist and shrewd social critic, the Japanese filmmaker Tomu Uchida (1898–1970) left an illustrious body of work little seen or acknowledged outside his home country. Working within the Japanese studio system, he proved to be a dexterous, adaptable visionary comfortable at the helm of any production—from samurai films, thrillers, and literary adaptations to social satire and even a pseudo-Western set in Japan’s “Wild North” of Hokkaido. Uchida started making films during the silent period, found his career as a director interrupted by a decade spent in Manchuria at the end of WWII, and later returned to Japan to amass a rich and far-reaching body of work. This retrospective, the most extensive ever held outside Japan, includes 35mm prints of works from the early 1930s through the late 1960s, when Uchida’s films tracked monumental social and political changes in Japan with a cinematic flair that puts the director among legends like Masaki Kobayashi and Kihachi Okamoto.
Organized by La Frances Hui, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, in collaboration with independent curators Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström, and the National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Special thanks to Masaki Daibo and Max Carpenter, intern.