As a middle schooler I dreaded being dragged to another event at the Goethe-Institut in Zimbabwe, where we lived at the time. It was always something-or-another about promoting…culture.
In truth, the film screenings were always interesting as well as free—classics of German cinema, or Doris Dörrie’s Enlightenment Guaranteed about mismatched brothers trying to fast-track it to nirvana at a monastery in Japan—it was the adults dancing afterwards that I dreaded (the infamous “parent shuffle”, but I digress). The Institut has counterparts worldwide, including, of course, Tokyo.
The city’s various cultural institutes have full schedules—tapering somewhat in July and August, unfortunately—that offer something a little different for less. Case in point: I’m not sure that I’m ready to invest 1,800yen in another Brothers Grimm, kinda, rehash in the form of Snow White and the Huntsman, currently running at Toho cinemas.
L’Institut franco-japonais de Tokyo in Shinjuku, for example, is a short walk up from Sotobori-dori and the imperial moat; film screenings and other events are regularly hosted there. Opposite the main building, a bookstore (the “Rive Gauche”) is a pick-up point for movie tickets or an issue of Numero or Vogue or what-have-you, and the garden doubles as cafe and installation site.
Film screenings seem to cost around 1,000yen and never upwards of 1,200yen; for members of the institute, the cost is even lower, generally around 500yen. Upcoming events at the institute include:
-Screenings of Je Veux Voir (“I Want to See”) and A Perfect Day (dir. Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige) on July 18 and 19, with a talk by the directors on July 19. The event is being held in conjunction with the Arab Express: The Latest Art from the Arab World exhibition at the Mori Art Museum
-A screening of 7 Days in Havana , by various directors including Benicio Del Toro and Gaspar Noé, on July 26
-Monthly screenings at Geidai (Tokyo University of the Arts) organized through L’Institut: Les demoiselles de Rochefort (dir. Jacques Demy) on July 21; Une femme est une femme (dir. Jean-Luc Godard) in September, and French Cancan (dir. Jean Renoir) in October. Students get in for 600yen; the public for 1,200yen.
Photograph the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, wander around the curious and quirky love hotel hill, visit Yoyogi park and Meiji shrine...
We’re late in catching the larger annual events–the French Film Festival, with three to four screenings daily, or the Hors Pistes (“off-road”), an arts festival-with-afterparty, natch, brought to Japan by the Centre Pompidou–but with entry fees of around 1,000yen for screenings at each event, be sure to keep them in mind for next summer.
Tip: Investigate the schedules at other institutes, e.g. the British Countil in Tokyo, or the OAG Haus/Goethe Institut. Events are cheap and often free of charge.
|Name:||L’Institut franco-japonais de Tokyo|
|Location:||15 Ichigaya, Funagawaracho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo|
|Closest Station:||7-minute walk from Iidabashi Station, exit B3 (Tozai, Oedo, Yurakucho, Namboku) or West Exit (JR Sobu)|
|Web:||http://www.institut.jp/fr (French and Japanese only)|
|Business hours:||Mondays 12pm-8pm, Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-8pm, Saturdays 9:30am-7pm, Sundays 9:30am-6pm|
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno: