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Courtesy of Janus Films


Woman in the Dunes

Sunday, Feb 13, 2022 at 5:00 pm

Location: Redstone Theater

Dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara. 1964, 147 mins. 35mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. With Eiji Okada and Kyôko Kishida. Ghost story, Sisyphean tale, erotic romanceWoman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna) is a landmark of the Japanese New Wave. A collaboration between filmmaker Teshigahara and surrealist writer Kōbō Abe, the film stars Eiji Okada (Hiroshima mon amour) as an entomologist who travels to the beach outside of Tokyo to study the local tiger beetle. A series of events lead him to the bottom of a sand dune where he becomes trapped with a young widow (Kyōko Kishida); endless shoveling is the only way for them to stave off annihilation. Teshigahara was nominated for Best Director at the 1964 Academy Awards for Woman in the Dunes, making him the first person of Asian descent to receive the nomination. He later left the film industry to become headmaster of the Sogetsu flower arranging school; his close attention to detail is evident in the film’s delicate scenes where body and sand intermingle. Woman in the Dunes’ memorable score is by one of Japan’s most celebrated composers, Toru Takemitsu. 

The screening is accompanied by an essay from writer and economist Sonali Deraniyagala (Wave) about how the allegorical story of Woman in the Dunes resonates broadly, including with the climate crisis that threatens many species’ existence, and with the past years’ pandemic in which many have had to live in isolation. It is clear from the experience of both crises that people of varying socioeconomic classes are impacted differently, and often those at the bottom of the social ladder suffer most.

Sonali Deraniyagala is a writer and economist. She is on the faculty of the Department of Economics at SOAS, University of London and is Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Dr. Deraniyagala’s 2013 memoir Wave recounts her experience during the Indian Ocean Tsunami when she lost her two sons, her husband, and her parents, and the progression of her grief in the ensuing years. It was shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award and won the PEN/Ackerley Prize, among many other honors.

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / Free or discounted for MoMI members. Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.