I WAS BORN, BUT… Ozu’s Masterpiece w/ Piano Score by Makia Matsumura
March 23 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm$10 – $20
Our GRRLS TO THE FRONT Finale! Two silent films with live accompaniment by pianist Makia Matsumura: “I Was Born, But…” is a charming and sublime comedy by celebrated Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu, and “Fallen Leaves”(1912) a lyrical short by the pioneering first woman filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché.
Before the films there will be an artist talk about Makia Matsumura’s career as a composer and silent film accompanist.
Fallen Leaves (1912, 12 mins) Dir. Alice Guy-Blaché A lyrical tearjerker that presents a variation on a theme by O. Henry, Fallen Leaves is the story of an innocent child who tries to save her older sister’s life by prolonging autumn. The film is fascinatingly perched between theater and cinema, and a reminder of when early female directors freely charted their own destinies. French pioneering director, Alice Guy was one of the first filmmakers to make a narrative fiction film as well as the first woman to direct a film. From 1896 to 1906, she was probably the only female filmmaker in the world.
Across the entire landscape of global cinema, few directors retain such high regard as Japan’s Yasujirō Ozu, whose restrained dramas – centring on family, marriage, and generational divide in an era of widespread change – would become the pillars of the country’s cinematic golden age. One of Yasujirō Ozu’s most popular films, I Was Born, But . . . (1932, 90 mins) is an utterly charming, hilarious silent comedy about childhood displaying the lighter, more playful side of Ozu while showcasing his expertly-timed comedic editing. The film concerns itself almost exclusively with the child’s point of view and is told from the perspective of two mischievous little boys to touch upon a bitter truth: While everyone is born with great expectations for themselves, the majority of us end up leading lives of unremarkable routine. Tackling contemporary subject matter with a quietly barbed comedic sensibility, the film brought Ozu immediate critical acclaim and remains Japan’s most treasured silent.
Makia Matsumura, a New York City-based silent film accompanist, has been captivating audiences for two decades with her live piano improvisations in front of the silver screen. As an alumna of the Pordenone Masterclasses – a distinguished program for emerging silent film accompanists – Makia’s music has played an integral role in silent film events at renowned theaters, film archives, and museums worldwide. Demonstrating remarkable talent from a young age, she has become a sought-after presence within the silent film community. In addition to her live performances at MoMA, Makia extends her artistic reach to provide recorded scores for silent film releases distributed by Kino Lorber, including the Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers box set and others which have been featured on Turner Classic Movies and Netflix.
“Usually described as a comedy, I Was Born, But… has been compared to Hal Roach’s Our Gang series. Yet it is much more, reflecting a tumultuous 1930s Japan being shorn of its traditions. Ozu masterfully uses schoolboy politics to mock the hypocrisies of adult hierarchies.” -Brian Darr, San Francisco Silent Film Festival
“I Was Born, But… explores the ways the world works, the principles that underlie social interaction and the social fabric. Part of what makes Ozu such a warm, intelligent, human filmmaker is his understanding that the systems that erode our ideals are beyond the control of the individual, and that what’s important is to live our lives on earth as it is, as best we can.” -David McDougall- MUBI