Japanese Films at the Five Flavours Film Festival

The 11th Five Flavours Film Festival takes place from November 15th to the 22nd in Poland and the programme was announced at the end of October. It’s packed with a great selection of films for people who will be in Warsaw for the event.

Here they are:

Yamato Californiayamato-california-film-poster

大和(カリフォルニア)  Yamato (Kariforunia)   

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Daisuke Miyazaki

Writer: Daisuke Miyazaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Hanae Kan, Nina Endo, Reiko Kataoka, Mayumi Kato, Shuya Nishiji, Haruka Uchimura,


I watched this at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and quite recently and was impressed. I didn’t have the nerve to talk to the director but would have congratulated him on making a great coming-of-age tale that combines Hip-Hop and international politics and getting great performances from his actors. Here’s my review!

Synopsis from the Osaka Asian Film Festival SiteSakura is a moody teenage girl living close to the US military base in the city of Yamato, a town north of Tokyo. She wants to become a musician like the American rappers she admires, but is held back by stage-fright when faced with performing in front of a live audience. Then she meets Rei, the half-Japanese half-American daughter of her mother’ s American soldier boyfriend. Rei has flown from California to visit for the summer. Sakura dislikes her immediately, but Rei’ s familiarity with American Hip Hop becomes a bridge between the two girls as they spend an unforgettable time together exploring, arguing over and bonding through the mix of Japanese and American culture in the unique landscape of Yamato. Though their adventures and quarrels may lead Sakura into danger, they may also let her face her fears and participate in the city’s music competition.

Close-Knit   karera-ga-honki-de-amu-toki-wa-film-poster

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,

Website   IMDB

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 Film Image 2

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.

Here’s my review!

SynopsisEleven-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.

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle    

The Bride of Rip Van Winkle Film Poster
The Bride of Rip Van Winkle Film Poster

リップヴァンウィンクルノ花嫁  Rippu van winkuru no hanayome 」 

Running Time: 179 mins.

Director: Shunji Iwai

Writer: Shunji Iwai (Screenplay/Novel),

Starring:  Haru Kuroki, Gou Ayano, Cocco, Soko Wada, Nana Natsume, Hideko Hara,

Website   IMDB

Shunji Iwai has made many films across many genres but many of them deal with loneliness and this one is little different as it details the situation of a painfully shy teacher who finds her life becomes intertwined with actors who people hire to play family and friends. It was a great character piece which I reviewed on VCinema. I had the good fortune to see Shunji Iwai at the Tokyo International Film Festival at a screening of his film, Vampire, and the Q&A that followed.

Synopsis from the Festival Site: Nanami is a shy and lonely school teacher who meets Tetsuo online. The pair decide to get married, but Nanami’s lack of friends or relatives proves a source of frustration for her husband-to-be. She is put in touch with Amuro, who runs a business which offers ‘extras’ to pose as friends and fill out crowds at social events. Even though that allows the wedding to proceed, it turns out to be a short-lived marriage, and soon Nanami finds herself alone again. She herself decides to become one of Amuro’s actors, and at one event befriends Mashiro. It’s a friendship that will open up a new world for Nanami, and she is surprised to find herself as an unexpected caretaker for a lavish but vacant mansion…

Tokyo Vampire Hotel

東京ヴァンパイアホテル 「Toukyou banpai hoteru

Running Time: 142 mins.

Release Date: October 28th, 2017

Director:  Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono, Jun Tsugita, Manabu Ikarimoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Yumi Adachi, Kaho, Ami Tomite, Megumi Kagurazaka, Akihiro Kitamura, Shinnosuke Mitsushima,


Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Love Exposure) is back. Adapted from the Amazon series, Tokyo Vampire Hotel sees two vampire tribes go to war as the world faces an apocalypse of sorts. The series is based on an original screenplay and stars actress Kaho (Puzzle), Ami Tomite (Antiporno), Yumi Adachi; and Megumi Kagurazaka, the director’s wife who practically stars in most of his films post Cold Fish. It was filmed in Japan, and also in Transylvania and Romania, including Dracula’s Castle. Here’s an article over at The Japan Times.

Synopsis from The Japan Times: A vampire clan holes up in an impregnable hotel, with trapped humans as a food source, as civilization collapses outside its doors.

A terrified young woman named Manami (Ami Tomite) ends up inside the hotel, though she finds a defender in the mysterious K (the singularly named Kaho) and her cohorts, vampires from a rival clan.


Bangkok Nites   Bangkok Nites Film Poster

バンコクナイツ 「Bankoku Naitsu

Running Time: 182 mins.

Director: Katsuya Tomita

Writer: Toranosuke Aizawa, Katsuya Tomita (Screenplay),

Starring: Subenja Pongkorn, Katsuya Tomita, Sunun Phuwiset, Chutlpha Promplang, Tanyarat Kongphu,

IMDB Website

Writer/director Katsuya Tomita has been busy working on the indie scene making a couple of films with Saudade (2011) being an award-winner (here’s an interesting review over at the Hollywood Reporter. He has a fascination with Thailand considering the influences the country and its people seem to exert on the story of that film and this current one.

Synopsis: Deep in Bangkok’s red-light district is a woman named Luck. She lives a lavish and luxurious lifestyle while also providing for her family in a rural province. One day she meets Ozawa, a Japanese ex-soldier with whom she once was in love and their worlds intersect again.


Wet Woman in the Wind   Wet Woman in the Wind Film Poster

風に濡れた女 Kaze ni nureta onna

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director:  Akihiko Shiota

Writer: Akihiko Shiota (Screenplay),

Starring: Tasuku Nagaoka, Yuki Mamiya, Ryushin Tei, Takahiro Kato,

Website IMDB

This one was at the Locarno Film Festival where it collected reviews like this one that paint this as an entertaining film to watch! I found it a lot of fun watching the characters engage in a battle of wits, sex, and verbal sparring. Here’s my review.

Synopsis: Kosuke Takasuke (Tasuku Nagaoka) is a former playwright who has fled Tokyo to live a quiet life in the country after becoming romantically burnt out. His wish for a quiet life is soon interrupted when he is targeted for sex by Shiori (Yuki Mamiya) and a theatre troupe decamp at his place…

Dawn of the Felines   dawn-of-the-felines-film-poster

牝猫たちMesuneko Tachi

Running Time: 84 mins.

Director:  Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Kazuya Shiraishi (Screenplay),

Starring: Juri Ihata, Satsuki Maue, Michie, Takuma Otoo, Tomohiro Kaku, Hideaki Murata,

Website IMDB

Having lived in Ikebukuro, I recognise some of the locations shown in the images and the trailer so it’s pretty exciting. The director, Kazuya Shiraishi worked on The Devil’s Path and Twisted Justice. I actually preferred this film to his weightier serious dramas. Here’s my review to give you a better picture.

Synopsis: Masako, Yui, and Rie are three prostitutes who service all sorts of people from hikikomori to widowers. Through their eyes we see a variety of men from Tokyo and how prostitution has changed from the first film to this with the impact of the internet in what turns into character studies of the women.

Night of the Felines   %e7%89%9d%e7%8c%ab%e3%81%9f%e3%81%a1%e3%81%ae%e5%a4%9c-film-cover

牝猫たちの夜 「Mesunekotachi no yoru

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director:  Noboru Tanaka

Writer: Akira Nakano (Screenplay),

Starring: Tomoko Katsura, Ken Yoshizawa, Hidemi Hara, Keiko Maki, Akemi Yamaguchi, Tatsuya Hamaguchi,


Synopsis: The sex lives of a variety of people, from yakuza to salarymen, in Tokyo are seen through the eyes of three sex workers in a bathhouse who experience fleeting relationships and different emotions.

Lovers Are Wet    Lovers Are Wet Film Poster

恋人たちは濡れたKoibitotachi wa nureta

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Tatsumi Kumashiro, Koji Kamoda (Screenplay),

Starring: Rie Nakagawa, Tetsu Oe, Moeko Ezawa, Koichi Hori, Senro So,


This film critiques censorship through the use of the tools that censors’ use purposely to ridicule the practice. Kumashiro purposefully scratched the film to cover up genitals in certain scenes and created a ridiculous look which actually draws attention to what the scratches should be hiding. Story-wise, it’s about loneliness and erotic relations between people with nihilistic outlooks.

Synopsis: A young man named Katsu returns to the small coastal town he grew up in after years of wandering around Japan and getting in trouble with the yakuza. Despite it being his hometown, he constantly denies his identity and starts to cause trouble especially after he befriends the owner of the cinema where he starts working, and her three unusual friends. The behaviour of the five of them challenges social norms…

Tokyo Drifter    Tokyo Drifter Film Poster

東京流れ者 「Toukyou nagaremono

Running Time: 83 mins.

Release Date: April 06th, 1966

Director:  Seijun Suzuki

Writer: Yasunori Kawauchi (Screenplay),

Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawaji, Ryuuji Kita, Eiji Go,


See the film that got Seijun Suzuki fired from Nikkatsu for being too arty. This landmark yakuza flick parodies the genre mercilessly while its low-budget forced Suzuki to be visually inventive, combining modernist aesthetics with visuals straight from traditional Japanese theatre. It has gone down as a classic that has inspired filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Takeshi Kitano, Jim Jarmush, and John Woo.

Synopsis from IMDB: After his gang disbands, a yakuza enforcer looks forward to life outside of organised crime but soon must become a drifter after his old rivals attempt to assassinate him.

Kotoko    Kotoko Film Poster

Running Time: 91 mins.

Release Date: October 28th, 2017

Director:  Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto (Screenplay), Cocco (Original Story)

Starring: Cocco, Shinya Tsukamoto, Yuko Nakamura, Eiichi Takahashi, Mika Nakamura, Ryugo Nakamura, Shinji Takakusa, Nami Inoue,


Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, Snake of June, Vital) crafted this psychological horror film with the singer Cocco. It’s emotionally bruising stuff thanks to the story of a single-mother going through post-natal depression and with body horror that is grimly realistic rather than fantastical. Quite the title to end the horror movie marathon at the festival. Here’s my review!

Synopsis: Kotoko (Cocco) is a young single mother who lives alone with her baby son. Suffering from an unknown illness that makes her see doubles of people and not knowing which version of the person is real, it severely impacts her day-to-day life, often leading to her lashing out violently. The only time she does not see double is when she is singing. As her situation worsens and she becomes a liability her son Daijiro is taken from her and put in the care of her sister. Kotoko is left alone with her own thoughts and is at a loss as to how to get Daijiro back. Then a man named Tanaka (Tsukamoto) enters her life when he hears her singing on a bus trip and finds something awoken inside himself. Tanaka is a novelist with a hit title called The Man Who Brightened the Moon in bookshops but he leads a lonely life. Despite initial rejections he persists but Kotoko’s mental state is not getting better.

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