Tomoyasu Murata: Stop Motion Master

October 30, 2020
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Film past event

Returning to Japan Society as a virtual presentation after a sold out 2019 North American premiere, this retrospective program features the work of Tomoyasu Murata, one of Japan’s most prolific independent animation artists, who has created breathtaking, boundary-breaking stop motion animated films over the last two decades. Initially inspired by the expressive power of traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theater, Murata’s films—at once tender, whimsical and mysterious—deal with themes of memory, absence and mujo (the Buddhist concept of impermanence) through the cinematic manipulation of his meticulously handcrafted puppets and fantastical miniature sets. The eight short films in this program range from the artist’s award-winning student work to recent projects that respond to the Great East Japan Earthquake.

2000-2017. Approx. 84 min. Written, directed and animated by Tomoyasu Murata.

Tickets: $3 per short
Special Offer: $10 bundle for all six shorts
Members: 20% off any rental


睡蓮の人 (Suiren no Hito)

In Murata’s award-winning thesis work, which mourns the loss of a loved one, an elderly man’s daily routine is interrupted by a rediscovered fragment of a precious memory. 2000. 16 min.

The Scarlet Road

朱の路 (Ake no Michi)

Part of Murata’s “Road” series, a sorrowful pianist on a journey meets a girl who gives him a vermillion flower in a tunnel connecting them to a world beyond. 2002. 14 min.

Family Deck (Vol. 1, 5, 6)

家族デッキ (Kazoku Dekki)

The Seven Lucky Gods (or kami, meaning both "hair" and "gods") live in the Takada’s barber shop in Tokyo—a set based on a real-life now-lost local store close to Murata’s heart—where they play charming tricks on the family of four. 2007. 15 min.

Okinamai / The Forest This Flower Blooms

木ノ花ノ咲クヤ森 (Ki-no Hana-no Sakuya Mori)

In the first episode in a series of films centered on The Great East Japan Earthquake, an amnesiac wolf traces his past and escapes from hunters who are after him in an eerily beautiful moonscape. 2015. 11 min.


天地 (Ametsuchi)

The island repeats volcanic eruption after earthquake, smoke and glowing heat bubbling from the morphing surface—but when the tectonic activity recedes, all is sand and, finally, the miracle of water flowing, of life. 2016. 11 min.

A Branch of a Pine is Tied Up

松が枝を結び (Matsuga Edawo Musubi)

Twins are separated by the destructive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan’s Tohoku region in 2011, but with a swirling snow globe, they traverse the present and the past, the living and the dead: reconciling, remembering, and restoring. 2017. 17 min.

Japan Society Film’s programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.

Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, David Toberisky, Geoff and Fumi Matters, Laurel Gonsalves, James Read Levy, Masu Hiroshi Masuyama, Akiko Koide and Shohei Koide, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, George Gallagher, David S. Howe, Michael Romano, and an anonymous donor.

Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the exclusive Japanese airline sponsor of Japan Society Film.

  • October 30, 2020 – December 31, 2020