Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Poster

The Cannes Film Festival takes place between May 08th and 19th and the official selection was announced earlier today. Now, it is entirely possible that more Japanese films will be added so I’ll update this list if and when it happens.

Without further ado, here are the films!


There are two Japanese films in the Competition section so far both of which come from veteran directors with lots of strong dramas to their names.

Shoplifters   Shoplifters Film Poster

万引き家族 Manbiki Kazoku

Running Time: N/A

Release Date: June 08th, 2018

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Screenplay),

Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Kirin Kiki, Mayu Matsuoka, Kairi Jyo, Naoto Ogatam Yoko Moriguchi, Yuki Yamada, Moemi Katayama, Akira Emoto, Kengo Kora, Chizuru Ikewaki, Sosuke Ikematsu,

Website IMDB

Hirokazu Kore-eda is a legend who has appeared at Cannes with films six times in the Competition and Un Certain Regard sections, picking up the Jury Prize for Like Father, Like Son (2013). Due to his focus on families in films like I Wish (2011) and Our Little Sister (2015), he is often called the Ozu of modern Japanese cinema by critics and this one features an unconventional family by normal Japanese standards.

Synopsis: Osamu (Lily Franky) and his wife Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) live with their son Shota (Kairi Jyo) Nobuyo’s younger sister Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and their grandmother Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) in a home behind an apartment. Osamu works as a day labourer but they rely on Hatsue’s pension and the ill-gotten goods they have from their shoplifting antics. They may be poor but they are happy.

One winter, Osamu and Shota find a girl named Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) in the freezing cold and take her home with them much to Nobuyo’s ire but she soon starts taking care of their new family member. However an incident occurs and a family they were on good terms with falls out with them causing secrets to be revealed…

Asako I & II / Sleeping or Waking (literal title)    Asako I & II Nete mo samete mo Film Poster

寝ても覚めても Netemo sametemo

Running Time: 119 mins.

Release Date: September 01st, 2018

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Writer: Sachiko Tanaka, Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Screenplay), Tomoka Shibasaki (Original Novel)

Starring: Masahiro Higashide, Erika Karata, Koji Seto, Rio Yamashita, Sairi Itoh, Daichi Watanabe, Koji Nakamoto, Misako Tanaka,

Website IMDB

Making his Cannes debut is Ryosuke Hamaguchi who has had a long career as a film-maker but many people will probably know him for Happy Hour  (2015). He has a good cast including Sairi Itoh (Love and Other Cults).

Synopsis: Asako (Erika Karata) is a 21-year-old woman who lives in Osaka with her boyfriend Baku (Masahiro Higashide), a free-spirited man, but when he disappears he leaves a permanent shadow in her memories.

Two years later and Asako now lives in Tokyo where she meets a salaryman named Ryohei (Masahiro Higashide). He looks just like Baku, but he has a completely different personality with sincerity being the biggest difference. Asako falls in love with Ryohei, but tries her best to avoid him because of her memories of Baku.

Directors’ Fortnight

Mirai of the Future    Mirai of the Future Film Poster

未来のミライ Mirai no Mirai

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

Director:  Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda (Screenplay/Original Work)

Starring: Haru Kuroki (Mirai-chan), Moka Kamishiraishi (Kun-chan), Gen Hoshino (Father), Koji Yakusho (Father), Kumiko Aso (Mother), Mitsuo Yoshihara (Mysterious Man), Yoshiko Miyazaki (Grandmother)

Animation Production: Studio Chizu

Website ANN MAL

Mamoru Hosoda’s new Mirai no Mirai (Mirai of the Future) will screen at this year’s Directors’ Fortnight, an independent section held in parallel to the Cannes Film Festival which will be held from May 9-19. The film is said to be closer to the human drama of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children rather than the more action-packed Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast. It is reportedly based on Hosoda’s own experiences of being a father in a family where a newborn took the attention of the parents away from the elder sibling and the emotions that radiated from that feeling.

Synopsis: A family living in a small house in a corner of a Yokohama dotes on a spoiled four-year-old boy named Kun-chan. When he gets a little sister named Mirai, he feels that his new sister stole his parents’ love from him. Jealousy and resentment well up until he meets an older version of Mirai, who has come from the future and takes him on an adventure.

Cannes Classics

Tokyo Story

東京物語 「Tokyo Monogatari」   Tokyo Story Film Poster

Running Time: 135 mins.

Release Date: November 03rd, 1953

Director: Yasujiro Ozu,

Starring: Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara

Playing at Cannes is a 4K digital restoration by Shochiku Co., Ltd., in cooperation with The Japan Foundation. Tokyo Story is considered one of the all-time great films and it continuously comes top of Sight & Sound’s magazine directors’ poll of the greatest film of all time. It stars familiar Ozu actors Chishu Ryu and the flower of post-war Japanese cinema Setsuko Hara who both appeared in many wonderful films together like the gentle and touching drama Late Spring. If you get the chance to go to Onomichi, one of the shooting locations and a truly beautiful place, you will see a lot connected to this film.

Synopsis: When the Hirayama couple travel from their small and quiet hometown of Onomichi to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo they discover that their children consider their presence an inconvenience and uncomfortable truths about the reality of life in Tokyo are revealed. It is only their daughter-in-law Noriko, the widow of their son who went missing in the war, who spends time with them but when the mother of the family is taken ill they stop at Osaka where another of their sons lives people are forced to take stock of how estranged their family has become. 

Short film Competition 

There is a Japanese film in the Short Film Competition. It was selected from the 3943 works submitted.


Running Time: 14 mins.

Release Date: N/A

Director: Masahiko Sato, Genki Kawamura, Yutaro Seki, Masayuki Toyota, Kentaro Hirase

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

The directors are graduates of the Sato Laboratory of the Graduate School of Image Sciences, Tokyo University of the Arts.

Synopsis: N/A

Here’s past coverage of the film festival:

Cannes 2012 Preview

Round-up – Like Someone in Love

Round-up – Ai to Makoto

Round-up – 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate

Cannes 2013 Preview

Cannes 2013 Press Round-up

Cannes 2014 Preview

Cannes 2015 Preview

Cannes 2016 Preview

Cannes 2017 Preview

Round-up – Blade of the Immortal

Round-up – Before We Vanish

Round-up – Radiance

Round-up – Oh Lucy!

Round-up – Shoplifters

Round-up – Asako I & II

Round-up – Mirai

Kore-eda wins the Palme d’Or in 2018

6 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018

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