JAPANESE filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda is the focus of a retrospective in the Discover Tuesdays slot at City Screen, York, throughout May.

The season follows the international success of Shoplifters, his latest masterpiece in an award-laden career stretching over 20 years.

Until then, Kore-eda had been relatively unknown outside his native land although most of his work had featured at major international film festivals, not least his debut feature Maborosi, a prize winner at Venice in 1995.

The complex and subtle Shoplifters has brought wider attention. Not only did it collect the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, but it also found a wider audience in its hopeful representation of a family that relied on petty crime to cope with a life of poverty, coupled with the film’s extraordinary surprise ending.

City Screen begins the Kore-eda season on May 7 with his aforementioned first feature, Maborosi (12A), the story of a widow’s coastal relocation and efforts to rebuild her life after her spouse takes his own life.

Although the young woman is troubled deeply by the fear that she brings death to those nearest and dearest to her, with time and the wonders of nature around her, she awakens to find love, understanding and a sense of peace.

Working with almost entirely natural lighting, Kore-eda’s remarkable and elegant camerawork makes this one of the most striking visual works committed to film.

1998’s After Life (PG), on May 14, is set in the world of the recently deceased, where each person who passes through is asked to select a single memory from their life that they wish to take with them.

A celestial film crew then takes that memory and makes it into a movie, allowing the person to hold on to the moment for all eternity.

2004’s Nobody Knows (12A), on May 21, is inspired by an infamous true story that made headlines in Japan in 1988. Kore-eda’s tough yet tender film follows the lives of four children left to fend for themselves by their wayward mother.

Having smuggled her family into a new apartment under the landlord’s nose, mum Keiko puts her 12-year-old son Akira in charge and disappears.

In a typically graceful turn from Kore-eda in Still Walking (U), on May 28, he weaves a an intricate and nuanced family drama with great subtlety.

Taking place over one summer’s day, this 2008 film follows a Yokohama family as they reunite to celebrate the life of the eldest son, whose tragic death 15 years ago left a painful mark. During this poignant remembrance, the gaps and tensions between family members become achingly apparent.

Looking forward to the Kore-eda season, City Screen marketing manager Dave Taylor says: “City Screen Picturehouse maintains the Discover Tuesdays slot to highlight arthouse gems, cult classics and world cinema at very reasonable prices.

“It’s a pleasure to bring the focus on o Hirokazu Kore-eda’s unhurried, watchful films for the month of May.”

Tickets for any of the 6pm screenings of Kore-eda’s films can be booked on 0871 902 5747, at picturehouses.com or in person at the Coney Street Picturehouse cinema.

Charles Hutchinson