The year 1895 is widely agreed to be the year in which film was born. Tokyo production company Shochiku is the only firm in the world that has been in business since the very beginnings of film. Those who have worked for the company include directors such as Hiroshi Shimizu and Yasujiro Ozu (whose uvre was showcased at the 53rd Berlinale). Alongside the companys support of contemporary Japanese films, Shochiku has always fought to preserve and present classics of Japanese cinema. The Shochiku production screening at this years Berlinale is TWENTY-FOUR EYES, which received a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Film in 1955. Twelve pairs of young eyes scrutinise the new teacher, Hisako Oishi, who has been posted to this remote island that appears to be stuck in another century. The islands inhabitants take umbrage at the new teachers way of dressing and her teaching methods, but Hisakos commitment and her infectious, enthusiastic manner soon wins over even the most sceptical of her critics. Then, Japan enters the Second World War and she and her students are separated. The years pass. Some of Hisakos pupils are killed, others survive. The film follows the fate of both teacher and pupils and tells of the harsh experiences they live through. At the end of the film, the surviving pupils decide to have a class reunion to which they plan to invite their dear teacher, Hisako.
by Keisuke Kinoshita
with Hideko Takamine, Takahiro Tamura, Yumeji Tsukioka, Kuniko Igawa, Chishu Ryu