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Japanese Films at the 2017 Annecy International Film Festival

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival has been running since it was established in 1960. It is the world’s oldest and largest animation film festival and it has become one of the best places to glimpse early footage of upcoming anime. This year, it runs from the June 12th to the 17th and the programme line-up has already been announced and there are many Japanese titles both in and out of competition.

Here’s what’s on offer:

In This Corner of the World Film Image

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Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2017

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Poster

This year’s Cannes Film Festival (17th – 28th May) is the 70th edition of the event and the festival head Thierry Fremaux announced the Official Selection of films programmed last week. Critics are salivating over the fact that there are two Netflix films: the monster movie Okja by Bong Joon-ho (The Host) and The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach (writer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and director of Mistress America). There will be two TV series for audiences to watch: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake and lots more familiar faces such as Sofia (Somewhere) Coppola’s The Beguiled, Michael (Code Unknown/Cache) Haneke’s Happy End (knowing Haneke, it’s probably an ironic title…). More importantly, there are also nine first-time filmmakers getting their works screened.

Why is that important?

The Cannes Film Festival comes into 2017 with a need to find fresh blood and this is seemingly strong selection because may be it. Since this is the 70th anniversary of the festival and the fact that, last year, organisers faced fierce criticism last year for their lack of female directors, commentators identified that they needed to do a couple of things: broaden out its programme so that there are filmmakers other than the old guard (Campion, Haneke, Kawase, Haynes, the Dardennes brothers etc.) and increase the number of female-centric stories and female-led films across the programme. The old guard are back but just by glancing at the lists of announced films, it is clear that the festival has achieved some of its goals and will probably avoid the criticism it faced last year – hopefully, no high-heels and breast-feeding baby incidents will crop up). Things are a bit of a mixed picture when it comes to the Japanese films.

So far, there are four Japanese films programmed, and three come from festival regulars: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Naomi Kawase, and Takashi Miike. Two of the four are adaptations while the other two are original dramas. Out of the dramas, one is made by a seasoned professional while the shorter one at 45 minutes is from a student. The presence of a fresh director is always something to cheer when it comes to Japanese films at international festivals and this director is a lady to boot: Aya Igashi. She is a graduate from Toei Gakuen Film College’s movie production department and is already working on her third film.

So, while we can all sigh and shrug our shoulders at the lack of original content, we can take comfort in the fact that Aya Igashi is on the radar of people who programme the festival.

What are the films playing this year?

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Full Line-up

oaff2017_posterart_english

The full line-up for the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) was revealed earlier today and for the 12th edition of OAFF, the number of selected films has reached an impressive 58 in total, including 16 films in Competition. The festival takes place from March 03rd (Fri) until March 12th (Sun) and there will be films from 19 countries and regions, including China, Hong Kong, Korea, the USA, and Japan. There will be 16 world premieres, 4 international premieres and 1 Asian premiere and lots of guests, so if you love Asian films, this is definitely the festival to attend. Not only are there films but there are many other events and guests. To find out more, please visit the Guest Page, the events page, and my preview.

To get more of an insight into the films, head over to the festival’s programme page or scroll down where I give more information, links in the titles of each film, plus links to previews of different sections.

Down to some nitty-gritty: every film will have English subtitles.

Venues:

Umeda Burg 7 (March 3-12),

ABC Hall (March 8-12),

Cine Libre Umeda (March 4-12),

Hankyu Umeda Hall (March 6-10)

Tickets are on sale from the end of February.

Here’s the line-up. I will make this post a sticky and update it with information as it is released:

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Clouded Vision: The Films of Yo Ota on the Big Screen in New York

Yo Ota is a film maker from Tokyo who has produced a body of work consisting of short films that mix together the realism found in landscape films with some manipulation of time and movement and spatial awareness to create genre straddling works of experimentalism that ask the audience to question the way that films display things. Subjects and locations have been as diverse as Catholicism and the pilgrimage to Lourdes Cathedral and a woman dancing in slow motion and the movement of cars and pedestrians in Paris.

He is new to me and I had to do some quick research on this site where you can view some of his films. If, however, the Anthology Film Archives in New York are holding a presentation on May 21st at 19:30. These guys are an international centre “for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video, with a particular focus on independent, experimental, and avant-garde cinema.” It sounds as if Yo Ota fits right in. Here’s more information from the site itself:

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East Winds Film Festival 2017 – Catch-Up Post

East-Winds-Film-Festival-Logo

The East Winds Film Festival is back after a hiatus of a couple of years (the last one was in 2014). Words about the films was released before the event but I’m a bit late in covering it. It started on May 15th and ends on May 21st and the programme consists of some of the latest award winning titles from the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea and other nations and regions. The only one I have seen all the way through is Tam Cam: The Untold Story which I reviewed for V-Cinema.

Anyway, here’s a press release from the organisers:

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Feature-Length Fiction Films at Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened and there are many top titles that audiences can see to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. There are a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce and talk about their work to the audience. 

There are some really great films to be seen and a couple of head-scratchers based on the quality but there should be something for everyone. On top of the films, there are also many cultural events to be had at the festival which will be detailed below along with some brief information on the venues.

What is on the programme, then? This is a quick preview but there’s a lot. I’ll break it down into sections and you can view trailers and more details for each on the films by clicking on the links:

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Short Films at the Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened and there are many top titles that audiences can see to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. There are a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce and talk about their work to the audience.

The short film selection offers audiences a chance to see what new and emerging talents on the indie scene are capable of producing when it comes to this short form style of cinema. Many of these filmmakers have seen their films travel to other festivals and it looks to be a strong selection:

TKY2015 Short Film Series

Website

Six filmmakers use the camera lens to capture different views of Tokyo in the TKY2015 Short Film Series. The folks at Nippon Connection say that this collection of films “presents a variety of perspectives on the people and lifestyles of this unique city.”

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“Dogs Without Names” Documentary Film Screening and Q&A at London’s Phoenix Cinema on May 31st

The Japan Society in London has organised another screening in London and this one looks like it will be a moving subject.

One of the films in my list of titles covering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (which I need to update…) finally reaches the UK after it was released in 2015. The film is a documentary all about the animals who were abandoned and the people who rescue them and it will be screened at the Phoenix Cinema on May 31st. Not only that, there will be a Q&A with the director Akane Yamada and representatives of organisations featured in the film.

Here’s more on the director from the organisers: “Akane Yamada has over 30 years experience as a film and television director. Recent productions include The Happiness of Mucchan (NHK, 2014) which tracks Mucchan, a dog abandoned in the 20 kilometer ‘red zone’ around the Fukushima nuclear reactor, and The Woman Who Sleeps with 1,000 Cats (Fuji Television, 2015) featuring Yuri Nakatani, of NPO Minashigo Dogs and Cats Rescue in Hiroshima.”

Here are the details on the film:

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Documentaries at the Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened and there are many top titles that audiences can see to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. There are a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce and talk about their work to the audience. 

This post deals with documentaries that will be screened at the festival. They cover a wide variety of topics from the reactor meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in Abandoned Land and the evacuees to reclaim their hometown to Raise your Arms and Twist, in which the director Atsushi Funahashi observes the everyday life of the Japanese pop idol singers of the group NMB48. The director skillfully combines social and media critique without degrading the stars or their fans. Steven Okazaki’s Mifune: The Last Samurai portrays the life and work of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, who has written film history through his cooperation with Akira Kurosawa whilein her film 95 and 6 to Go young American filmmaker Kimi Takesue explores the history of her Japanese ancestors who emigrated to Hawaii, taking the conversations with her grandfather as a starting point.

Here’s the line-up:

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Yoji Yamada’s “A Class to Remember” Screening at the Japanese Embassy in London on May 23rd

The Japanese embassy in London regularly screens films that are hard to find in the West and they are an eclectic bunch. The latest one programmed is one from the venerable director Yoji Yamada. It’s called A Class to Remember and it’s from the 1996 and was Japan’s submission to the 69th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film category but it was not accepted as a nominee (source: Wikipedia).

Here’s the information and here’s the link to the embassy’s page:

A Class to Remember 2: The Learning Circle   Gakko II Film Poster

学校IIGakko II

Running Time: 122 mins.

Release Date: October 19th , 1996

Director: Yoji Yamada

Writer: Yoji Yamada (Screenplay),

Starring: Toshiyuki Nishida, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Masatoshi Nagase, Ayumi Ishida, Pinko Izumi, Takashi Sasano, Ayumi Hamasaki,

IMDB

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The First Wave and the Reboot of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno Films at Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened and there are many top titles that audiences can see to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. There are a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce and talk about their work to the audience. 

This post deals with NIPPON RETRO which is a special section of Nippon Connection which presents nine films by those the directors Noboru Tanaka and Tatsumi Kumashiro. On May 26, at 15:00., the film academic Jasper Sharp, author of Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema,  will give a lecture on “Nikkatsu Roman Porno and Japanese Erotic Cinema” and the director Akihiko Shiota will talk about some of the titles.

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Isao Takahata’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” Screening at the Barbican on June 03rd

The Barbican are running an exhibition about Japanese homes and domestic architecture called The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. It began on March 23rd and lasts until June 25th. As part of the exhibition there will be films screened. The third film in this exhibition is The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

Here are the details:

The Tale of Princess Kaguya  The Story of Princess Kaguya Film Poster

かぐや 姫 の 物語 「Kaguya Hime no Monogatari

Running Time: 137 mins.

Release Date: November 23rd, 2013

Director: Isao Takahata

Writer: Isao Takahata, Riko Sakaguchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Aki Asakura (Kaguya), Kengo Kora (Sutemaru), Nobuko Miyamoto (The Bamboo Cutter’s Wife), Takeo Chii (The Bamboo Cutter),

Website   IMDB

This is a beautiful film helmed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, writer and director of Only Yesterday, Pom Poko Grave of the Fireflies and Little Norse Prince Valiant. It is an adaptation of a famous ancient Japanese folktale originally called Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) which is about a princess named Kaguya who is discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a growing plant by a bamboo cutter and adopted. While I wouldn’t rate it as my favourite Ghibli anime, it is visually stunning and this Barbican presentation comes with the Japanese voice track.

Synopsis: When a bamboo cutter discovers a miniature girl living inside of a shining stalk of bamboo, he names her Princess and raises her as his daughter. Growing into a beautiful young woman, the Princess is torn when she struggles with the responsibility of her nobility and her desire for a simple life.

Anime at Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films which will be screened and there are many top titles that will allow audiences to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. 

In terms of anime we have two of the most critically acclaimed movies in recent times in the shape of A Silent Voice and In This Corner of the World. There are also some CG and stop motion movies that might not normally get seen outside of festival spaces as well. Nippon Connection also continues its trend of highlighting new voices by working with the film academic Catherine Munroe Hotes and using her special programming skills to bring the latest in indie anime

What is on the programme, then?  You can view trailers and more details for each on the films by clicking on the links:

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