Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers – Miwa Nishikawa, Satoko Yokohama, Naoko Ogigami, and Mami Sunada films will be screened in London

Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers’, is a season of free film screenings co-organised by the Japan Information and Cultural Centre (JICC), Japan Foundation and National Film and Television School with the aim of celebrating the diverse and exceptional work by the new generation of female directors who have emerged from the Japanese archipelago in the last fifteen years. There are four female filmmakers on offer, three as part of the main season and one as a special screening at the Japanese embassy. Here is the information:

Archipelago Contemporary Japanese Female Filmmakers Banner

This special season dedicated to showcasing some of the works of female directors from the Japanese archipelago will take place in cinemas across London with a screening at the Japanese embassy. Naoko Ogigami (originally from Chiba) is the first to get shown off and that takes place at the embassy. The three other directors whose works will be shown on screen are Miwa Nishikawa from Hiroshima, Mami Sunada from Tokyo, and Satoko Yokohama from Aomori, hence the name of the season.

Nishikawa and Sunada have both worked with Hirokazu Kore-eda as assistant directors but while Nishikawa has gone on to write and direct feature-films in the realist mould, Sunada has concentrated on documentaries. Yokohama, meanwhile, has made films that combine reality and touches of fantasy. Cinephiles with an interest in Japanese films will probably know Nishikawa and Yokohama and Sunada since their films are getting more and more exposure. For those not well-versed with Japanese films, they will be in for a treat since their works are excellent. As the event organisers have written,

“This programme will offer a glimpse into the distinctive voices of these screenwriter-directors, whose work remains largely undiscovered outside their home country. Each with their particular style, these filmmakers have secured themselves a unique place in the Japanese film industry by occupying a narrative space that is neither mainstream nor fully arthouse, subverting genre boundaries, and rarely adhering to a solely female-centric vision.”

Here are the films on offer:

Japanese Embassy in London, Wednesday 22 November 2017

Open 18:00 | Film starts at 18:30 | No admittance after 19:00

Rent-a-Cat   Rent a Neko

レンタネコ    「Rentaneko」

Running Time: 110 mins.

Release Date: May 12th, 2012 (Japan)

Director: Naoko Ogigami

Writer: Naoko Ogigami

Starring: Mikako Ichikawa, Reiko Kusamura, Ken Mitsuishi, Maho Yamada, Kei TanakaNaoko Ogigami

Naoko Ogigami, studied Film at the University of Southern California. After achieving commercial and critical success with Kamome Diner (2006). She has become one of the biggest female directors from Japan thanks to her films and has recently been around the world including the London Film Festival to talk about her latest title, Close-Knit. I reviewed Rent-a-neko years ago but still have fond memories of it because it’s a warm and gentle film and it has cats and cats are awesome!

Synopsis: “Rent-a-cat. Rent-aaaaaaaaaa-cat. Feeling lonely? I’ll lend you a cat.”

Sayoko (Ichikawa) is a young woman who walks along a riverbank pulling a cart full of cats. It seems that she does this daily. Tall and slender, with short hair and a long face, she is dressed in an imaginative array of colourful clothes that look like they were put together after a foray in a charity shop. She is a magnet for cats and lives in a house full of former strays that join her feline family. One might class her as a free thinker and her employment renting out cats certainly seems to indicate this. She has earned a bit of a reputation since two elementary school-boys are so familiar with her that they brazenly refer to her as “that weird cat lady.” However, far from being ostracised by society most ignore her but there are some who hear her voice and are drawn to her. These are the lonely people with holes in their hearts. Sayoko can spot them a mile off and knows that the best medicine for that is the tender friendship of a cat. She knows because of a hole in her own heart…

Click here to book your free seat.

Thursday, 30 November | Courthouse Cinema, London | 6:30PM

Bare Essence of Life Ultra Miracle Love Story   Bare Essence of Life Ultra Miracle Love Story Film Poster

ウルトラミラクルラブストーリー Urutora mirakuru rabu sutori

Running Time: 120 mins.

Release Date: June 06th, 2009

Director:  Satoko Yokohama

Writer: Satoko Yokohama (Screenplay),

Starring: Kenichi Matsuyama, Kumiko Aso, Seiji Nozoe, Misako Watanabe, YoshioSatoko Yokohama on Set Harada, Yumiko Fujita, Arata Iura, Mayu Kitaki, Sakura Saito, Shohei Uno,

Website IMDB

Satoko Yokohama combines fantasy and reality in her sophomore feature film which combines doses of surrealism, comedy, and drama and a heck of a lot of love. Yokohama was recently on the festival circuit with her third feature, The Actor so it’s great seeing her early works getting another look. Hope to see more from her!

Synopsis: Yojin (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) is a young man who works with his grandmother on their small organic vegetable farm. Yojin leads a manic and messy lifestyle because his brain operates differently, something which others find troublesome. This chaotic element comes out in force when he meets Machiko (Kumiko Aso), a primary school teacher who arrives from Tokyo. She’s escaping a tragedy that happened to her boyfriend but her arrival sets in motion Yojin’s madcap efforts to win her heart. Can he change his life to earn her love?

To book your free place via Eventbrite, please click here

Friday, 1 December | Courthouse Cinema, London | 6:30PM

Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salaryman   Ending Note Death of a Japanese Saleman Film Poster

エンディング・ノートEndingu no-to

Running Time: 90 mins.

Release Date: October 01st, 2011

Director:  Mami Sunada

Writer: Mami Sunada

Starring: Tomoaki Sunada       Mami Sunada Image


Mami Sunada will surely be well-known to people thanks to her 2013 documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness which gave a behind-the-scenes look at Studio Ghibli. Ending Note is her debut documentary film after a life spent making home movies and it’s a deeply personal one that won her the Best New Artist award at the 2011 Hochi Film Awards.

Synopsis: Tomoaki Sunada was a typical salary man who worked for more than 40 years in the same company. After retiring, at 67 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer and given just months to live. Typical of his character, he created a list of things to do such as playing with his grandchildren and visiting friends and arranging his own funeral. His daughter captured it all on film as she helped him make an “ending note”, which is a memorandum for the family of the deceased, like a testament without legal force.

To book your free place via Eventbrite, please click here

Saturday, 2 December | Rich Mix, London | 12:00PM

Wild Berries    

Wild Berries FIlm Poster
Wild Berries FIlm Poster

蛇イチゴ Hebi Ichigo

Release Date: September 06th, 2003

Running Time: 108 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Hiroyuki Miyasako, Miho Tsumiki, Sei Hiraizumi, Naoko Otani, Toru Tezuka, Moeko Ezawa, Susumu Terajima, Matsunosuke Shofukutei, Shota Sometani,

Website    IMDB

Miwa Nishikawa is the truth (and my joint-first favourite film director). SheMiwa Nishikawa Hebi Ichigo Direction is, amongst other things, a novelist and an award winning film director and her talents have firmly planted her as an international film festival favourite leading a wave of female filmmakers finding drama in everyday lives. Wild Berries, her debut feature, is a perfect example. It tells the tale of a middle-class family whose act of normality is a façade that covers up a long history of deceit. I loved it and gave a glowing review. It’s one of the best dramas I had seen in a long time. Here’s my review!

Synopsis: The story takes place over a few days in a suburb in Tokyo and the players at the centre of the action are the Akechi family. The father, Yoshiro (Sei Hiraizumi), is an engineer supposedly slaving away at an office day and night. Akiko (Naoko Otani) is the mother and has taken on the role of loyal housewife. She has the thankless role of looking after her senile father-in-law Kyozo (Matsunosuke Shofukutei). The household is rounded off by the prim and proper Tomoko (Miho Tsumiki), a teacher with a firm sense of justice who is bringing her boyfriend Kamata (Toru Tezuka) home to meet the folks who might be his future in-laws. What Kamata doesn’t know is that Tomoko’s family isn’t all it seems and with a death and the return of the son, the black sheep of the family, the bonds between them break down.

To book your free place via Eventbrite, please click here


Following the screenings, this panel discussion will examine the proliferation of Japanese female filmmakers in the last fifteen years. In a discussion chaired by East Asia selection lead film programmer for the BFI London Film Festival, Kate Taylor, featuring Japanese cinema expert, writer and curator Jasper Sharp; film researcher Alejandra Armendáriz Hernández, and season curator Irene Silvera, the panel will bringing insight into the work of the directors as well as provide a retrospective focus on the part women have played throughout the history of the Japanese film industry. In doing so, framing debate on the current position of women behind the scenes both in Japan and across the globe.

To book your free place via Eventbrite, please click here

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