Spanning multiple filmmakers, genres, and decades, this series showcases several of the most unforgettable female lead roles in Japanese animated cinema. From Motoko Kusanagi’s philosophical exploration of sexuality and gender identity in Ghost in the Shell to Nausciaä’s difficult wartime decisions as princess in Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, these leading women defy genre conventions in complex, strong-willed, and autonomous roles. This series is also home to the Wisconsin premiere of Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness, a 1973 film which first screened at the 23rd Berlin International Film Festival but has remained unavailable in the United States until a 4K digital restoration was completed in 2015. An erotic spectacle of breathtaking watercolor visuals accompanied by a 1970s psych rock soundtrack, this unseen masterpiece is unlike any other Japanese animated movie you have ever seen. Heroines of Anime was curated by UW student and WUD Film programmer James LaPierre with the Cinematheque’s Jim Healy.

  • Sat., Sep. 3 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

A lost masterpiece of Japanese animation that has been recently restored, Belladonna of Sadness is a transgressive, spectacular, and psychedelic head trip. A series of surreal watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together, the story focuses on Jeanne (Aiko Nagayama), an innocent newlywed who is violently raped by the town’s baron on her wedding night. In order to exact revenge, she forms a pact with the Devil (voiced by Tatsuya Nakadai, star of Kurosawa’s Ran) who grants her incredible magical abilities...with a catch. Fans of Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet and Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards will instantly fall in love with Belladonna’s LSD-stoked visual style and psych rock soundtrack composed by noted avant-garde jazz musician Masahiko Satoh. (JL)

  • Sat., Sep. 10 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

In a future world decimated by atmospheric poisons, gigantic insects and war, Nausicaä’s eponymous princess must use her skills as both soldier and scientist. One of the best science-fiction films of the 1980s, Nausicaä’s critical and commercial success in Japan eventually led to the formation of Studio Ghibli. The film also marks the first of Miyazaki’s many superb collaborations with composer Joe Hisaishi. (KK)

  • Sat., Sep. 17 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

The year is 2029. A vast electronic network covers the planet, accessible only to humans who have undergone cybernetic body augmentations and become “shells.” When a dangerous hacker named the Puppet Master begins to infiltrate the network and “ghost hack” citizens, Major Motoko Kusanagi is sent to uncover the identity and motives of this mysterious new foe. This complex and visually stunning thriller has served as inspiration for a number of films including The Matrix. (JL)

  • Sat., Sep. 24 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Doctor Atsuko Chiba is a top research psychologist practicing a revolutionary new treatment called dream therapy. Using a mysterious device called the DC Mini, Chiba is able to enter her patient’s dreams and observe under the guise of her alter-ego Paprika. When the DC Mini is stolen, it is up to Chiba and her team of researchers to investigate all corners of reality and the dream world in order to find the culprit. Director Satoshi Kon’s fourth and final film before his death in 2010, Paprika is widely considered his most unique and creative feature. (JL)