The BFI revealed their programme earlier today and for this year’s festival which runs from October 04th to October 15th. The festival is separated into different strands such as Thrill, Laugh, and Debate and there is a huge range of titles to choose from. Japan comes up good with a mix of films with Takashi Miike, a festival regular, showing up with Blade of the Immortal. He’ll be in town to talk about his career! Even more exciting is the presence of Masaaki Yuasa, an anime auteur who is blowing up after years of us otaku screaming out he is a genius. Many of these films have been at other festivals and won awards but it’s great that they are in London!
Visit Windows on Worlds to see films from other Asian countries.
Here are the Japanese films that have been selected!
彼らが本気で編むときは、 「Karera ga Honki de Amu toki wa」
Running Time: 127 mins.
Director: Naoko Ogigami
Writer: Naoko Ogigami (Screenplay),
Starring: Rinka Kakihara, Toma Ikuta, Kenta Kiritani, Mimura, Eiko Koike, Mugi Kadowaki, Lily, Kaito Komie, Shuji Kashiwabara, Misako Tanako,
Naoko Ogigami is one of Japan’s interesting female directors, quietly working away making good films and many people are familiar with them. Yoshino’s Barber Shop (2004), Kamome Diner (2006), Glasses (2007), and Rent-a-Cat (2012) could be described as quirky dramas that pack a powerful emotional punch but Close-Knit is a lot more serious as Ogigami looks at LGBTQ issues in Japan, a country that is still conservative in some ways.
Close-Knit may be serious but it features many well-rounded characters that will suck you into the world of the characters and show you that love is everything when it comes to family and through this you will definitely get you to understand the issues. Here’s an interview involving Naoko Ogigami which goes through the film a bit more. Expect a review soon.
UPDATE (27/09/17): Naoko Ogigami will be at both London Film Festival screenings and she will also be at a special event where she will talk to Jasper Sharp about her career. That particular event is free to attend. To find out more, check this post!
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Tomo is pretty much left to her own devices by a mother who is flighty, to say the least. Unwashed dishes are piling up in the sink and supermarket onigiri are all there is to eat again. Tomo’s single mother usually comes home late, and drunk. When she leaves her daughter for good one day the girl has to rely on help from her uncle, who takes in Tomo to live with him and his girlfriend Rinko. At their first meeting Tomo is flabbergasted to discover that Rinko is a transsexual. Rinko immediately sets about taking care of Tomo; not only does she lovingly prepare meals but she also succeeds in creating a new home for the girl. But before long cracks appear in their perfect nest.
Blade of the Immortal / The Inhabitant of Infinity (Literal Title)
無限の住人 「Mugen no Juunin」
Running Time: 140 mins.
Release Date: April 29th , 2017
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Tetsuya Oishi (Screenplay), Hiroaki Samura (Original Manga),
Starring: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara, Erika Toda, Kazuki Kitamura, Chiaki Kuriyama, Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Min Tanaka,
Warner Bros. Japan have hired an utter pro for their latest adaptation of a manga – Takashi Miike! With this film, the maestro has made 100 films and audiences around the world have been enjoying Blade of the Immortal. He has great form when it comes to jidaigeki considering he made 13 Assassins (2012) and Hara-Kiri (Death of a Samurai) (2013). Warner Bros have the financial muscle and a crew experienced in that genre considering they were behind the excellent Rurouni Kenshin, Rurouni Kenshin Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.
Blade of the Immortal was shot in Kyoto from November, 2016 until January of this year. It stars Takuya Kimura (I Come with the Rain – a decent yet rather unheard of serial killer film – and 2046), Hana Sugisaki (Pieta in the Toilet), Chiaki Kuriyama (Shikoku, Exte: Hair Extensions), Min Tanaka (Maison de Himiko, Haruneko, and the Rurouni Kenshin films) and Sota Fukushi (Library Wars).
Reviews were pretty glowing for this one (here’s a post which collected them) and it should appeal to an action audience as well as Japanese film fans familiar with Miike. He will be in London to take part in a Screen Talk about his career (link to the page with more information). Arrow Films have picked this one up for distribution but nothing beats the big screen!!!
Synopsis: Manji’s (Takuya Kimura) is a wandering swordsman. That’s nothing special but what makes him different is the fact that he was given eternal youth and immortality younger by a mysterious woman after his sister was killed in front of him and he was left for dead but came back from the brink to kill their attackers. During his journey he encounters Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki) whose parents were killed by a group of swordsmen belonging to “Itto ryu” and her parents’ fencing studio was destroyed. She desires revenge for her parents’ death and after seeing Manji in action she asks him to be her guard as they take on the “Itto ryu”.
夜明け告げるルーのうた 「Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta」
Running Time: 112 mins.
Release Date: May 19th, 2017
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Writer: Masaaki Yuasa, Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay)
Animation Production: Science SARU
Starring: Kanon Tani (Lu), Shota Shimoda (Kai), Akira Emoto (Grandfather), Minako Kotobuki (Yuuho), Shinichi Shinohara (Lu’s father), Souma Saitou (Kunio),
Lu Over the Wall was released in Japan on May 19th and it has picked up awards since then including at Annecy, where it took the “Cristal for a Feature Film” award. It is directed by Masaaki Yuasa with a script written by Reiko Yoshida, a woman who has written many different anime such as A Silent Voice, Yowamushi Pedal, and Shirobako. It was produced by Yuasa’s protege (and a highly talented animator) Eun young Choi, and animated by Science SARU and these folks are the geniuses behind Mind Game, Ping Pong: The Animation, and The Tatami Galaxy amongst other great artistic titles. It is their second film released this year following the release of Night is Short, Walk On Girl back in April.
It has the look of the 2009 Ghibli film Ponyo if I were to make a glib comparison but the animation and style are pure Science SARU, a studio finally picking up fans in the mainstream. The film has been picked up for UK distribution by Anime Limited.
Synopsis: Middle school student Kai finds himself forced to move from Tokyo to the declining fishing town of Hinashi to live with his father and grandfather following his parents’ divorce. For a kid from the big metropolis, there’s little for him to do besides composing music and sharing it on the Internet. One day his classmates Kunio and Yuuho invite him to join their band, and when he reluctantly accompanies them to practice on Mermaid Island, the three of them meet a mermaid named Lu. Through meeting her and playing music, Kai is slowly able to open up about his emotions but calamity soon strikes the town and he must find a way to avert it with his new-found friends and community!
Running Time: 90 mins.
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Director: Shoujirou Nishimi, Guillaume Renard
Writer: Guillaume Renard (Screenplay)
Animation Production: Studio4°C
Starring: Gringe, Kelly Marot, Gilbert Levy, Jeremie Covillault, Frantz Confiac, Casseurs Flowters
This is a French-Japanese co-production that was at Annecy. It’s based on a comic-book series and brought to life by Studio4°C (Batman Gotham Knight, Animatrix, Tekkonkinkreet, the three Berserk CG movies) and Ankama (WAKFU series). Mutafukaz is full of pop-culture references to things such as John Carpenter’s They Live and Batman and is described as “fast-paced, very gory, flowing with juvenile humour and a total riot.”
Synopsis: Angelino is one of the thousands of deadbeats living in Dark Meat City, a Californian ghetto which could best be described as a hell hole. Angelino may be an orphan but he has friends such as Vinz who has a flaming-head and he has a pizza-delivery job. Said job gets him involved in a scooter accident caused by seeing the heavenly vision of a mysterious girl and pretty soon Angelino starts experiencing violent headaches doubled with strange hallucinations involving monstrous creatures lurking throughout the city…
薔薇の葬列 「Bara no Souretsu」
Running Time: 105 mins.
Release Date: September 13th, 1969
Director: Toshio Matsumoto
Writer: Toshio Matsumoto (Screenplay)
Starring: Peter, Osamu Ogasawara, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Emiko Azuma,
This one is a cult film that has floated around the internet (update: it is available on DVD thanks to Eureka’s release from 2006). It has been given a 4K restoration. I have not watched it all the way through so here’s details from the festival and a trailer for you to make up your mind. Plus, here’s a review from ace film critic Goregirl!
Synopsis from the festival site: Take a walk on the subversive side with Toshio Matsumoto’s wild, kaleidoscopic vision of the underground scene in 1960s Japan. A significant influence on Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Matsumoto’s journey through the drag queen bars, dimly-lit nightclubs and student digs that defined Tokyo’s counter-cultural landscape is a hallucinogenic blast. Trans actor Peter, so memorable as the androgynous Fool in Kurosawa’s Ran, here plays Eddie (more than a passing reference to Edie Sedgwick), one of the most desired hostesses at Bar Genet. Her tryst with the bar’s owner infuriates his main squeeze and the bar’s domineering drag queen-cum-matriarch Leda, ultimately leading to violence. Blending fictional drama with dramatic documentary footage, Matsumoto rails against Japanese patriarchy, American imperialism and what he saw as his country’s inability to reconcile its outdated value system with a rapidly changing world. Gorgeously shot, unashamedly erotic and occasionally very funny, this is a bouquet worth savouring.
There are two Japanese short films and one international co-production in the Hoping, Fearing, Dreaming section:
Delete Beach (Dir: Phil Collins, 7 mins.) A collaboration between artist Phil Collins and leading animation studio Studio 4°C.
And So We Put Goldfish In the Pool (Dir: Makoto Nagahisa, 28 mins.) Why did four fifteen-year-old girls put 400 fish in a high school pool in Saitama, Japan?
To & Kyo (Dir: Tsuneo Goda, 4 mins.) Tsuneo Goda of Domo internet meme fame takes us on an animated tour of Downtown Toyko.