The Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival (YIFFF) kicks off today in its glamorous snowy, ski-resort in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaidō. YIFFF is a great place to get a look at the latest in Japanese indie films with many world premieres from directors both new and old. The diversity and originality of films is heartening considering every trailer post I have written has had at least one movie adaptation of a manga/anime/book etc. It’s the first year I have paid attention to it and so with the aid of Google translate, Twitch for the more obscure titles and some trailer round-ups I wrote months ago here are some of the films on offer that have caught my eye.
There are many world premieres here but the only one that jumps out at me is Warped Forest.
The Warped Forest
Directed by Shunichiro Miki and starring Rinko Kikuchi, Fumi Nikaido, Boba, Kanji Tuda, Yoshiyuki Morishita
A collection of weird characters in a weird world are put on display. This is a world where there is a giant shop-girl unable to fit into the store she works in, nymphs harass a heart-broken woman with suggestive fruit and bedroom’s have weird green pods in them.
We Were There: Part One
Directed by Takahiro Miki and starring Toma Ikuta, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Sosuke Takaoka, Yuika Motokariya
This is the first of a two part adaptation of Yuki Obata’s best-selling manga. The story centres on a woman named Nanami (Yuriko Yoshitaka), who reminisces about a difficult relationship with Yana (Toma Ikuta), the most popular boy on the college campus who harbours dark secrets stemming back to the fate of a girl from a previous relationship.
Directed by Hideki Oka and starring DAIGO and AKB48 members Sayaka Akimoto, Ayaka Umeda, Sae Miyazawa, Yuka Masuda, Kana Kobayashi, Sumire Satou and Haruka Shimada
Ultraman, with the help of AKB48, uh, I mean the earth defence force Team U must battle the evil Alie Bat who has dropped in from space to cause havoc.
A Sower of Seeds
Directed by Toshi Shioya and starring Takanori Jinnai, Rena Tanaka, Yu Yoshizawa, Akira Emoto, Yuri Nakamura
A film about the making of organic green tea in the scenic city of Usuki, Ōita. Minori (Tanaka) is a Tokyoite who is laid off and must return to her grandfather’s farm to collect herself. Almost predictably her grandfather collapses and she has to run the farm. Fortunately there is a friendly local official named Kinjiro (Jinnai) who appears to help.
Yubari Choice: Japanese Films (Noboru Iguchi)
If you’re a fan of dreadfully silly and gory B-movies associated with Nikkatsu/Sushi Typhoon then you’ll be in heaven as we get an overload of Noboru Iguchi’s oeuvre featuring films from different parts of his career and many a premiere including Zombie Ass which looks so bad it has to be good.
Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead
Starring: Arisa Nakamura, Mayu Sugano, Asana Mamoru, Kentaro Shimazu, Yuki, Danny, Kentaro Kishi
A group of teenagers go camping in the woods and find themselves under siege from zombies who are covered in crap and under the control of parasites.
Other films include Kaidan Shin Miibukuro: Igyo, A Larva to Love, Shiozaki and Harapeko Yamagami-Kun: Gekijo-Ban.
Yubari Choice: Japanese Independent Film
uh, how I wish I could jet over to Japan and attend this festival. For anybody into post-apocalyptic zombie melt-downs, this is the year to attend! Anosoraao (Halcyon Skies) which is a family drama directed by Tao Nashimototao and stars a cast of unknowns is the most normal film in this programme. Take a look at the rest!
This film comes from Naoyoshi Kawamatsu who directed Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and looks set to continue the bad make up and terrible stories.
Shinu! Shinu! Shinema (Die! Die! Cinema!) which is directed by Makoto Shinozaki deals with a group of student film-makers who attempt to create the ultimate horror film by capturing real ghosts. As is par for the course, things go wrong. Syamenbana which is a period drama set on a remote island used to exile people. It is directed by Shinichi Karube and stars Misaki Nisijyo
Sougihito Andateika (Undertaker)
Undertaker is a post-apocalyptic zombie movie directed by Naoyoshi Kawamatsu.
Speed Shiro & Sankichi
Directed by Yudai Yaaguchi and starring Tak Sakaguchi this looks wonderfully bizarre.
The films in this programme showcase some of the work from Japan’s emerging set of directors and new actors. These are so indie that finding info on them was hard. And I consulted a mighty database created by the Japan Foundation!
A Taste of Kiss
Directed by Ippei Nishihara and starring Miwako Izumi, Tadahumi Andou, Kazuya Hayashi, Yuki Kimura
This indie feature was four years in the making and is Ippei Nishihara’s debut. A sci-fi love story set in a devastated world where a single human clone re-experiences the memories of his original.
Koppidoi Neko is a comedy which was written and directed by Rikiya Imaizumi and stars newcomers including Kaori Aoyama.
School Girl x Complex is Yu Katsumata’s follow up to HI! Otsuka Drug Store which is posted below. I’d be interested to see this one.
I have to thank Twitch who have run a series of previews covering the different programmes. Although most of these titles are familiar – writing up trailers I’ve come across a lot – some of these are totally unknown which is the whole point of the festival, to expose the newest talents. Check out the previews for even more films!