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Japan, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Regional Focus)

Director: Kon Ichikawa

"Okatsu is a widow raising five children - adults but still mama-dependent - in mid-eighteenth century Edo, Japan. Her frugality attracts unflattering comment even amid national tough times (the region is in famine) What Okatsu tells no one is that she saves so that a friend can start his own business once he's released from prison. (The crime: stealing food for his starving baby.) She doesn't blink when she finds herself facing a robber late one night. The thief is another hard-luck case, and she takes him in as a 'son', one duly accepted as a brother by her biological ones - and who sparks an eldest daughter's shy romantic interest." - Variety

Laced with warm family humour and strong performances, Big Mama is a rounded film of humility and compassion. With this, his 75th feature film, veteran Japanese director Kon Ichikawa demonstrates passion for his subject matter. Okatsu is portrayed as a strong-minded, pragmatic woman with an acute understanding of her life predicament.

Kon Ichikawa (born in Mie Prefecture, Japan, 1915) has directed documentaries and feature films of various genres including melodrama, literature-based, mystery and serious drama. He directed his first film, The Flower Blooms, in 1948. Big Mama is his 75th film.

See also...


Based on a script written by Akira Kurosawa, Dora-Heita is directed by his 85-year-old friend and collaborator, Kon Ichikawa and returns to a golden age of Samurai sagas. Koheita Mochizuki is a ... More »


Fires on the Plain, like director Ichikawa's earlier Harp of Burma, is concerned with the futility and horror of war, and protests at the private suffering which comprises this social catastrophe. It ... More »


"The Makioka Sisters" is based on one of the classics of Japanese literature, a family epic along the lines of "The ... Forsyte Saga" or, "The Magnificent Ambersons", by famous ... writer Junichiro ... More »


Set in nineteenth century Japan, The Wanderers has been likened in its theme to Easy Rider. It follows the adventures of three "toseinins', unemployed young men who roam the countryside, living off ... More »


lchikawa has filmed the true story of a young Japanese who sailed a 19-foot yacht from Osaka to San Francisco in ninety days of solitary adventure. But unlike the men of the Kon Tiki, he had no ... More »


"From the director of the superb Ring and Ring 2. A young mother is plagued by visions of the ghostly presence of a drowned girl which seem to strip away the reassuring surfaces of modern-day Japan ... More »

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