Japanese Films at the Glasgow Film Festival 2017

The Glasgow Film Festival takes place from February 15th to the 26th and features lots of classics and contemporary titles. The big focus is on Toshiro Mifune and so you can see some of his greatest roles which also means some of Akira Kurosawa’s greatest films. There’s plenty for the mainstream crowd to like in that mix of period drama and action and there’s more in the contemporary titles which span genres from psychological to science fiction and there’s even an anime thrown in.

Here are the Japanese films on the programme:


Harmonium   harmonium-film-poster

深田晃司 「Fuchi ni Tatsu

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer: Koji Fukada

Starring: Mariko Tsutsui, Tadanobu Asano, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Takahiro Miura, Momone Shinokawa,

IMDB   Website

Koji Fukada’s stars Kanji Furutachi (au revoir l’ete, The Woodsman & the Rain) and the awesome Tadanobu Asano (Watashi no OtokoVitalBright FutureSurvive Style 5+). This is a psychological mystery where audiences try to understand the characters.

Synopsis from IMDB: Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) and Akie (Mariko Tsutsui) and their daughter Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa) live a quiet life which is disrupted when Toshio hires old-friend Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano) to work in his workshop. This old acquaintance, who has just been released from prison, begins to meddle in Toshio’s family life with a threat of violence but Toshio owes Yasaka a large debt.

A Silent Voice   


声の形Koe no Katachi」 

Running Time: 129 mins.

Director: Naoko Yamada

Writer: Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay), Yoshitoki Ooima (Original Manga)

Starring:  Miyu Irino (Shouya Ishida/Mayu Matsuoka), Saori Hayami (Shouko Nishimiya), Aoi Yuuki (Yuzuru Nishimiya),

Website MAL ANN

Since arriving in Japan I have been out of the loop when it comes to anime and so the only thing I know is that Kimi no na wa. has been the massive hit (because most people I speak to have seen it or want to see it). This one looks far more interesting, a slice-of-life about a bully who tries to redeem himself by asking for forgiveness from his target, a girl who is deaf. This comes from Kyoto Animation (watch Hyouka, an awesome TV anime, to get to know them) and it’s directed by Naoko Yamada, one of the most promising female directors going.

Synopsis from the festival site: Shoko, a young Deaf student, transfers to a new school where she is bullied by Shoya for her hearing impairment. While Shoya originally leads the class in bullying Shoko, the class soon turn on him for his lack of compassion. When they leave elementary school, Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other again, but Shoya, tormented by his past behaviour, decides he must see Shoko once more to atone for his sins – but is it already too late?

Shin Godzilla   


シンゴジラ 「Shin Gojira

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi,

Writer: Hideaki Anno (Screenplay),

Starring: Hiroki Hasegawa, Satomi Ishihara, Kimiko Yo, Takumi Saito, Yutaka Takenouchi, Ren Ohsugi, Akira Emoto, Kengo Kora, Jun Kunimura, Pierre Taki, Ken Mitsuishi,


Synopsis from the Festival Site:   Godzilla, the King of the Monsters, is back for a record-breaking box office reboot of Toho’s kaiju classic. In present-day Japan, an unexplained seismic event has occurred off the coast of Shinagawa, causing destructive effects all the way to the capital. Ministers scramble to figure out what’s going on but only cabinet secretary Rando Yaguchi (and the audience) knows the truth: Godzilla has majestically returned with fire-breathing, building-stomping ambitions for Tokyo once more. Cue epic disaster and frenzy as the undisputed master of monsters wreaks fabulous havoc again.

Toshiro Mifune Strand at Glasgow

Mifune: The Last Samurai   Mifune the Last Samurai Film Poster

Running Time: 80 mins.

Director: Steven Okazaki

Writers: Stuart Galbraith IV, Steven Okazaki

Starring: Keanu Reeves (Narrator), Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Haruo Nakajima, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg,  Koji Yakusho, Shiro Mifune,


Synopsis: Keanu Reeves narrates a documentary about one of the most famous, if not the most famous Japanese actor in the history of cinema: Toshiro Mifune. People who have watched him in Yojimbo and Throne of Blood will attest that he is a massive screen presence and we get to see what made him special through archive footage as well as enjoying the reminisces of collaborators and fans inspired by the man. The story starts with his childhood through his military service and his career as an actor.

Stray Dog   Stray Dog Film Poster

野良犬 「Nora no inu

Release Date: October 17th, 1949 (Japan)

Running Time: 122 mins.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Writer: Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima (Screenplay),

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura, Keiko Awaji, Reisaburo Yamamoto,


Synopsis:   The story takes place in Tokyo during a brutal heatwave, A rookie detective named Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) is travelling on a crowded city bus when a pickpocket lifts his gun. He has to scour the bustling streets of downtown Tokyo for clues, aided by a seasoned section chief (Takashi Shimura). As Murakami gets closer to recovering the pistol, however, the distinction between himself and the criminal who stole it starts to become less and less clear. Stray Dog plunges deep into the anxiety and moral ambiguity of immediate postwar Japan with Kurosawa’s masterful visual flair.




Running Time: 106 mins.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Writer: Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima (Screenplay),

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada, Seizaburo Kawazu, Takashi Shimura,


Synopsis from the Festival Site:   Toshirô Mifune won the Best Actor prize at the Venice Film Festival for his towering performance in this Kurosawa classic that directly influenced the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone. Mifune is Sanjuro, an itinerant samurai who lets the flashing blade of his sword do all his talking. Arriving in a sleepy backwater town torn apart by conflict, he finds himself courted by two warring clans in need of his services. However, Sanjuro has his own code of honour and his own agenda. A pitch perfect combination of furious action sequences, deliciously dark humour and charismatic star power.



椿三十郎 Tsubaki Sanjuro

Running Time: 96 mins.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Writer: Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima, Hideo Oguni (Screenplay),

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura, Keiko Awaji, Reisaburo Yamamoto,


Synopsis from the Festival Site:   Sanjuro rides again in this thrilling, fast-paced sequel to Yojimbo. Toshirô Mifune’s cynical, battle-weary warrior returns to become a reluctant mentor to a group of nine dangerously naive young samurai fighting a corrupt official. The strong, silent Sanjuro tries to instill some wisdom in his gullible disciples in a jocular adventure that gleefully upends the solemn conventions of a typical samurai tale. But wisdom comes at a price and the gory final duel proves that there are times when only a fight to the death will resolve matters.




Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Writer: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto (Screenplay), Ryunosuke Akutagawa (Original Novel)

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Masayuki Mori, Minoru Chiaki, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Katp.


Synopsis from the Festival Site:   The truth is in the eye of the beholder in Rashômon, a landmark work from Akira Kurosawa. What really happened at the storm-tossed Rashômon Gate? We know that a man died and a woman was raped but where does the guilt lie and how can justice be served? Toshirô Mifune’s vicious bandit Tajômaru claims the killing resulted from a fair fight and the woman welcomed his attentions. Others offer different, contradictory accounts of the events. A gripping piece of storytelling whose groundbreaking use of multiple perspectives continues to influence filmmakers today.

Seven Samurai   seven-samurai-film-poster

七人の侍Shichinin no Samurai

Running Time: 207 mins.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Writer: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni (Screenplay),

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Yukiko Shimazaki, Keiko Tsushima, Minoru Chiaki, Katamari Fujiwara,


Synopsis from the Festival Site:   Finding someone to defend the poor and downtrodden is the universal theme that makes Kurosawa’s monumental epic as timely as ever. In 16th century Japan, farmers are under threat from marauding bandits. One village decides to buy protection and put their faith in a samurai warrior who assembles a select group to fortify the village and prepare for attack. A spellbinding cinema classic, in which superb action sequences are underpinned by the intensity of our emotional attachment to the magnificent seven willing to fight and die for a cause. A genre-defining film that begs to be seen on a cinema screen.

That’s a pretty neat line-up at Glasgow. I hope audiences like the films.

4 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Glasgow Film Festival 2017

      1. It’s strange but I haven’t done much in terms of films for large swathes of this journey. I have redoubled my efforts recently and I have a lot more coming up (really soon, actually).

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