Labyrinth of Cinema
海辺の映画館 キネマの玉手箱

Japan2019179 minJapanese with English subtitlesClosed Captions, Drama, Fantasy

Rated 18A
CW: war, sex, physical violence (beatings, executions), sexual violence (rape), attempted suicide

In the port town of Onomichi, Japan, the only movie theatre is bidding goodbye to its local audiences. The owners organize a nightlong screening devoted to historical Japanese war films. Noriko, a teenager who regularly helps in the theatre, walks toward the stage and astonishes the audience as suddenly, she mystically projects herself into an old musical. Film buff Mario, film-history nerd Hosuke, and aspiring yakuza Shigeru are also warped into the cinema screen in sequences that represent the second Sino-Japanese War, Boshin War and Hiroshima bombing. The four embark on an immersive, surreal and vicious cycle of damnation and salvation in the face of war's savagery.

Nobuhiko Obayashi's swan song Labyrinth of Cinema dives into the senselessness of wars, wrapped in cinematic oddities. His abstracted reconstruction of Japan’s darkest events points out that movies, though a fabrication of reality, epitomize suffering as universal truth.

– Rolando Basmayor


Rei Yoshida
Yoshihiko Hosoda
Hirona Yamazaki
Riko Narumi


Tokyo International Film Festival, 2019
International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2020
Fantasia International Film Festival, 2020

Director Bio

Nobuhiko Obayashi 大林 宣彦

Nobuhiko Obayashi (9 January 1938 – 10 April 2020) was a Japanese director, screenwriter, and editor of films and television advertisements. He began his filmmaking career as a pioneer of Japanese experimental films before transitioning to directing more mainstream media, and his resulting filmography as a director spanned almost 60 years

12 Nov, 2020 10:00 am

to 19 Nov, 2020 11:59 pm


Community Partner

Live online discussion with special guests

Unpack the layers of this film with our special guests Rob Buscher of Philly Asian American Film Festival and Daisuke Miyao of University of California San Diego. ASL interpretation will be made available thanks to Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Services. Ticket holders can watch on the CineSend Reel Asian portal.

November 18, 2020 at 6:30PM

Rob Buscher
Board Chair of the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

Rob Buscher is a film and media specialist, educator, arts administrator, and published author who has worked in non profit arts organizations for over a decade. Buscherʼs expertise is Japanese and Asian American & Pacific Islander Cinema although he has worked as a  professional film programmer, critic, and lecturer across a variety of fields.  He currently lectures at University of  Pennsylvania, and is a contributing writer at Pacific Citizen and Broad Street Review. Buscher also serves as President of the Philadelphia Chapter of civil rights group  Japanese American Citizens League and chairs the editorial board of Pacific Citizen, the organization’s national newspaper.

Daisuke Miyao
Professor in Department of Literature, University of California at San Diego

Considering cinema to be a transnational cultural form from the beginning of its history and simultaneously to be a national entity, formed by specific discourses on nationalism and modernization, Daisuke Miyao has been conducting research on film history. His interdisciplinary training in cinema studies, East Asian studies, and American studies, combined with his bicultural background, living and studying both in Japanese and North American academia, made it possible for him to recognize that the study of film could benefit from cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives. 

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