Japanese Films at the Asian Film Festival Dallas 2018 (July 19 – 26)

The Asian Film Festival Dallas runs from July 19th to 26th and is continuing its mission of bringing movies from Asian and Asian-American filmmakers living around the world to audiences in Dallas, Texas in order to celebrate and support emerging and established filmmakers and sharing the rich diversity of Asian culture through films.

I’m here to cover the Japanese films and the selection is really surprising and good. Many of these Dallas Premieres and some US Premieres with the likes of Riding Uphill, 3Ft and Ball, and The Reverse Diaries being real surprises. These three look like solid dramas and offer an alternative look at Japan. There’s the entertainment movies like We Make Antiques and Laughing Under the Clouds and there’s a classic in the form of Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter.

There are some great non-Japanese films like Edward Yang’s phenomenal Yi Yi and the HK crime thriller The Brink and a bunch of Korean films like The Mimic and Believer. There’s a lot on offer!

America is a big place and you’re not going to be able to see many titles on the big screen if you’re not living in New York and able to enjoy Japan Cuts and the New York Asian Film Festival. If you’re in Texas or near it, this is going to be your best opportunity to see them especially since some of these may not be available on streaming services.

Anyway, here are the films! Just click on the titles to be taken to the corresponding page on the festival site!

Friday, July 20, 2018 6:00 PM  |  Monday, July 23, 2018 3:30

RIDING UPHILL    Gachi Boshi Film Poster

ガチ星 Gachi Boshi

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: May 26th, 2018

Director:  Kan Eguchi

Writer: Tomoki Kanazawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Kenichi Abe, Shoudai Fukuyama, Damari Hayashi, Ryo Funazaki, Kengo Morisaki,


Synopsis: Koji Hamajima (Kenichi Abe) has given up as a father, husband, and as a professional baseball player. He spends his time languishing in pachinko parlours around Ogura, Fukuoka Prefecture. Pushing 40, he decides to change his life by attending the Shuzenji bicycle racing school to become a professional Keirin racer but finds the harsh reality a shock to his system as a combination of brutal training and instruction from the coaches and younger cyclists half his age batter his resolve. Can he hang on?

Friday, July 20, 2018 11:00 PM

Ghost Squad    Ghost Squad Film Poster

ゴーストスクワッド Go-suto Sukuwaddo

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: March 03rd, 2018

Director: Noboru Iguchi

Writer: Noboru Iguchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Yanagi, Minori Mikada, Yuni Hong, Sumire Ueno – The NOMAKES girls), Asaka Nakamura,

Website IMDB

Idol girls, NO MAKES, step into the film world with Noboru Iguchi of Mutant Girls Squad (2010) and The Machine Girl (2008) fame as they bring another trashy, silly film with deliberately broken and OTT physical effects.

Synopsis: Cowardly Rika is a victim of her father’s domestic violence and struggles to get free from him. An unlikely path to freedom happens when she meets the ghosts of a bunch of girls killed by criminals. These ghosts want revenge so they can find peace and see Rika as their path towards their goal. In helping them, Rika jumps between the world of the living and the dead and delights in getting to taste their haywire powers… 

Saturday, July 21, 2018 11:00 PM  |  Monday, July 23, 2018 10:00 PM

Liverleaf   Liverleaf Film poster

ミスミソウ Misumisou

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: April 07th, 2018

Director: Eisuke Naito

Writer: Miako Tadano (Screenplay), Rensuke Oshikiri (Original Manga)

Starring: Anna Yamada, Hiroya Shimizu, Rinka Otani, Rena Ohtsuka, Aki Morita, Kenshin Endo, Arisa Sakura, Minori Terada,

Website IMDB

Rensuke Oshikiri is the creator of the popular manga Hi Score Girl, a fun comedy. This one is decidedly more serious. A revenge drama using the theme of school bullying, it is directed by Eisuke Naito, the guy who did Puzzle .

Synopsis: Haruka Nozaki (Anna Yamada) has moved from Tokyo to a school in some backwater town. She is the victim of bullying which escalates to her house being burnt down and her family being burnt alive. She has an emotional breakdown and takes revenge…

Saturday, July 21, 2018 4:30 PM | Tuesday, July 24, 2018 3:30 PM

The Reverse Diaries    The Reverse Diaries Film Poster

リバースダイアリー Riba-su Daiari-

Running Time:  99 mins.

Release Date: May 26th, 2018

Director:  Shin Sonoda

Writer: Shin Sonoda (Screenplay),

Starring: Gen Ogawa, Marie Ono, Erika Tsunashima, Iku Arai, Moeru Akazome, Masana Hirabuki,

Website IMDB

Synopsis from IMDB: A novelist Rihito Shiraishi meets Saki Honda, a somewhat eccentric woman, and he is attracted to her. Triggered by Saki’s suicidal attempt and reading her diary, Shiraishi recognizes that their encounter was not a coincidence. United by an airplane accident, they start to face their true selves eventually, influencing one another.

Saturday, July 21, 2018 9:15 PM  |  Monday, July 23, 2018 7:45 PM

Laughing Under the Clouds  Laughing Under the Clouds Film Poster

曇天に笑う Donten ni Warau

Running Time: 94 mins.

Release Date: March 21st, 2018

Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro

Writer: Yuya Takahashi (Screenplay), Karakara Kemuri (Autobiographical Essay)

Starring: Sota Fukushi, Yuma Nakayama, Kirato Wakayama, Shunsuke Daito, Yuki Furukawa, Junya Ikeda, Ren Kiriyama, Yuta Koseki

Website IMDB

Synopsis: The film takes place after the Meiji Restoration in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. It follows the three sons of the Kumo family, Tenka (Sota Fukushi), Soramaru (Yuma Nakayama) and Chutaro (Kirato Wakayama). They are working with government special forces known as Yamainu to try and seal the power of Orochi, a giant snake that comes to life every 200 years and brings disaster to people. Trying to aid the giant snake are ninjas from the Fuma clan who want to use the snake to overthrow the government…

Saturday, July 21, 2018 6:30 PM | Thursday, July 26, 2018 9:30 PM

We Make Antiques    We Make Antiques Film Poster

嘘八百 Uso happyaku

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: January 05th, 2018

Director: Masaharu Take

Writer: Shin Adachi, Masako Imai (Screenplay),

Starring: Kiichi Nakai, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Tomochika, Aoi Morikawa, Tomoya Maeno, Keiko Horiuchi, Shohei Uno, Jakujaku Katsura,

Website IMDB

The writer and director of 100 Yen Love team up again to make this comedy about counterfeit art. One of the actors involved is Tomoya Maeno who was fantastic in Emi-Abi.

Synopsis: Norio Koike (Kiichi Nakai) works as an antique dealer in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, close to a sacred place linked to the tea ceremony which produced Sen no Ryo. He wants to make a lot of money but business is hard so when he encounters a skilled ceramic artist named Sasuke Noda (Kuranosuke Sasaki) is a potter they decide to cheat an art appraiser by creating a new batch of Sen no Rikyu’s chaki (tea utensils).

Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:00 PM

Tokyo Drifter    Tokyo Drifter Film Poster

東京流れ者 「Toukyou nagaremono

Running Time: 86 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 helped get 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: Attempting to go straight, a yakuza enforcer named Tetsu looks forward to life outside of organised crime but finds his attempts frustrated when his old gang call him back to Tokyo to help them battle a rival gang. He soon must become a drifter after his old rivals attempt to assassinate him…

Sunday, July 22, 2018 7:00 PM  |  Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:00 PM

3ft Ball & Souls    3 ft Ball & Souls Film Poster

三尺魂Sanjaku Tamashii

Running Time: 93 mins.

Release Date: May 25th, 2018

Director:  Yoshio Kato

Writer: N/A

Starring: Honoka Murakami, Minehiro Kinomoto, Kanji Tsuda, Shinobu Tsuji,

Website    IMDB

Yoshio Kato, director of PLASTIC CRIME. He was inspired to become a movie-maker after watching Family Game (1983). This was at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year.

Synopsis: A group of four people gather together to commit suicide with a giant firework. However, after the explosion, the four are returned to just before their meeting. And it keeps happening. Again and Again. Three of the group start to get the idea that the school girl who is with them is the cause for these time-slip shenanigans and try to persuade her not to join in…

Sunday, July 22, 2018 9:45 PM   |  Wednesday, July 25, 2018 10:30 PM

Our Escape

Our Escape Film Poster

ぼくらの亡命 Bokura no Boumei

Running Time: 115 mins.

Release Date: June 24th, 2017

Director: Nobuteru Uchida

Writer:  Nobuteru Uchida (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryubun Sumori, Ai Sakurai, Daisuke Matsunaga, Hikari Suzuki, Nobuhito Irie, Kaori Shiina, Seiichi Shido, Kousuke Takaki,

Website    IMDB

Synopsis: Noboru (Ryubun Sumori) lives in a tent in the outskirts of Tokyo. One day, he witnesses a fight between Kifuyu (Ai Sakurai) and Shigehisa (Daisuke Matsunaga), a thug who uses her in an extortion scheme known as a “badger game”. To save her, Noburu devises a fake kidnapping and demands ransom from Shigehisa. Things go wrong and Kifuyu, afraid of being abandoned, finds comfort in Noboru’s arms and the two journey towards the sea in the attempt to fill each other’s solitude.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018 8:00 PM

The 8-Year Engagement    The 8-Year Engagement Film Poster

8年越しの花嫁 8 Nen Goshi no Hanayome

Running Time: 199 mins.

Release Date: December 16th, 2017

Director: Takahisa Zeze

Writer: Yoshikazu Okada (Screenplay), Hisashi Nakahara, Mai Nakahara (Autobiographical Novel)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Tao Tsuchiya, Hiroko Yakushimaru, Tetta Sugimoto, Kazuki Kitamura, Kenta Hamano, Yuri Nakamura, Keisuke Horibe, Kanji Furutachi,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Three months before Hisashi (Satoh) and Mai (Tsuchiya) are due to marry, Mai becomes ill and falls into a coma. Hisashi remains by her side, praying for her recovery and the magic moment happens but when it does, it seems Mai has lost her memory. Will the two live happily ever after?

4 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Asian Film Festival Dallas 2018 (July 19 – 26)

  1. RE: “If you’re in Texas ”
    Ahem … The drive across Texas is the distance from London to Vienna.

    Texas is not known as state with a large Asian population(Hawaii or California), but it picked up a many refugees from several SE Asian countries after Vietnam. Chain migration created clusters of various ethnicities. Someone should make a movie about the “Montagnaurds” (French approximation). They were a non-Vietnamese people who lived in Vietnam’s mountains. They were notable as a group as many fought with the French and the Americans during the indo-China wars. A good number of them moved to Texas where they clustered in the same community.

    1. Haha, all I know about America is that it’s a big place.

      Seriously speaking, I’ve only seen a few film festivals that specialise Asian films that aren’t on the East or West Coast of the US or Hawaii which is why this is special. I can imagine being in Texas or a neighbouring state and super jealous that New York has two festivals dedicated to Asian films in the space of a month and a bit so it’s important to write about this one especially when it has films that are hard to see elsewhere.

      Have you been to Texas?

      The information you gave about the “Montagnaurds” was interesting. I had never heard of them before.

      Thanks for the comment and it’s good to see you. I checked your blog last week to see if you’d updated it.

      1. I’ve only been in Texas stopping into the airports. Sorry about the lack of blogging lately. So many topics I would liked to have written about. I check in to WP once in a while to see if anyone has commented on any my posts. I saw that I have slowly crept up to 400,000 hits.
        I try to check for your posts in my reader. Keep up your good work : )

      2. Thanks! I enjoy reading your posts so I’ll keep looking out for new content.

        Congrats on getting nearly 400,000 hits! Pokemon, Hanako Oku, and AKB48, a heady mix!

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