Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2018

The Venice International Film Festival is here for its 75th edition and it will run from August 29th to September 08th. There are about five apanese films at this year’s festival (so far), the highlight being Shinya Tsukamoto’s return to feature-film making as a director. His last film was First on the Plain which was at the 2014 edition of the festival. He’s in the competition section with his latest offering. On a purely personal note, I met the chap and got his autograph.

Here’s what’s on offer:

Zan (Killing)     Killing Film Poster

斬、 Zan

Running Time: 80 mins.

Release Date: November 24th, 2018

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Sosuke Ikematsu, Yu Aoi, Shinya Tsukamoto, Tatsuya Nakamura, Ryusei Maeda

Website    IMDB

Shinya Tsukamoto is back writing, directing, editing and producing his own films after a short spell acting in features like Shin Godzilla and Over the Fence. I’m a big fan of his works thanks to Nightmare Detective(2007), Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Tokyo Fist (1995), and Vital (2003) and his film A Snake of June, which was given the Special Jury Prize at the 2002 Venice Film Festival. It seems like Venice has become his home away from home since he has been invited to the festival nearly ten times.

Synopsis:This is Tsukamoto’s first period piece and it concerns Sosuke Ikematsu’s character who is a ronin. He is alive during the end of the Edo period where many like him are finding their way of life dying out as the country modernises. He lives in the suburbs of Tokyo and is acquainted with a farmer’s daughter played by Yu Aoi who comes from the same farming village.

There are two films in the Venice Classics section

Street of Shame    Street of Shame Film Poster 1

赤線地帯 Akasen Chitai

Running Time: 86 mins.

Release Date: March 18th, 1956

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

Writer:  Masashige Narusawa (Screenplay), Yoshiko Shibaki (Original Novel)

Starring: Machiko Kyo, Ayako Wakao, Aiko Mimasu, Michiyo Kogure, Kumeko Urabe, Yasuko Kawakami, Hiroko Machida, Eitaro Shindo, Sadako Sawamura,


Synopsis: A film about female sex workers in a licensed brothel near the Sensouji Temple in Tokyo’s Yoshiwara district at a time when the Japanese government is considering a ban on prostitution, we see the women’s daily dramas as each tries to navigate different situations and achieve their dreams. Hanae supports her family while, Yumeko, a widow, uses her earnings to raise and support her son, who is now old enough to work and care for her. Yasumi aims to pay off a debt and leave while the ageing Yorie has the opportunity to get married. Miki finds her situation changes when her father comes from Kobe to bring her news of her family and ask her to come home.

Love, Thy Name Be Sorrow AKA The Mad Fox   Love, Thy Name Be Sorrow Film Poster

恋や恋なすな恋 Koi Ya Koi Nasuna Koi

Running Time: 109 mins.

Release Date: May 01st, 1962

Director: Tomu Uchida

Writer:  Yoshitaka Yoda (Screenplay),

Starring: Hashizo Okawa, Michiko Saga, Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Kensaku Hara, Jun Usami, Eijiro Yanagi, Yoshi Kato, Sumiko Hidaka,


Synopsis:A highly theatrical and beautiful fantasy film involving fox spirits getting involved in the imperial court of Kyoto in medieval Japan. An astrologer predicts danger for the Imperial family but doesn’t specify who is in peril. In fact, he says that the answer is written on a scroll that only his successor can decipher before he dies suddenly without naming a successor between his two disciples. This leads to the widow favouring one who is her lover and banishing the other but not before torturing his lover to death. Mad with grief, he winds up with her original family and finds aid in the fox spirits as he tries to right wrongs.

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie Virtual Reality Diver   Ghost in the Shell The New Movie Virtual Reality Diver Film Poster

攻殻機動隊 新劇場版 Virtual Reality Diver Koukaku Kidoutai: Shin Gekijou-ban Virtual Reality Diver

Release Date: 2016

Running Time: 16 mins.

Director: Higashi Hiroaki

Writer: N/A (Screenplay), Masamune Shirow (Original Creator)

Starring: Elizabeth Maxwell (Motoko Kusanagi), Christopher Sabat (Batou), Jad Saxton (Logicoma), Stephanie Sheh (Yuri), Marc Diraison (Oribe),

Animation Production: Production I.G

MAL ANN Website

Originally released in 2016 for smart phones which are compatible with VR head-sets and Sony’s VR units, this 15-minute work offers an original story in immersive 360° 3D video.

Synopsis from Production I.G: To end the war and protect my wife, I must delete you all…”

Japan, 2025. Technology has been advancing more and more rapidly.

“Brain cyberization” that makes possible direct connections to information networks via the brain, the technology of “prosthetic bodies” that allows humans to change their body parts into cybernetical ones; in this world where such scientific advances have become common, a bombing attack threat is sent to the Japanese government.

The target is an international meeting involving dignitaries from the Republic of Kuzan. The case is entrusted to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Public Security Section 9.

Section 9’s leader, the full-cyborg Motoko Kusanagi, assembles her team and heads off to trap and eliminate the terrorist.

Tales of Wedding Rings VR     

結婚指輪物語Kekkon Yubiwa Monogatari

Release Date: N/A

Running Time: 30 mins.

Director: Sou Kaei

Writer: N/A (Screenplay), Maybe (Original Creator)

Starring: Akari Kito, Takumi Satou, Kouichi Souma,

Animation Production: Square Enix

ANN Website

This title blends VR with manga in a 30 minutes story that includes Japanese voice acting and manga style visuals where there is a camera that moves around a traditional manga frame to give you an experience of the environment and characters.

Synopsis: Ordinary schoolboy Satou is best friends with Hime. She keeps telling him that she is a princess and he goes along with it but when she tells him that she’s moving, he decides to act and finds himself in another world where he becomes her groom at her wedding and takes on the role of the Ring King: a hero of immense power who will save the world from the Abyssal King…

That’s it for now. I’ll keep an eye on the Venice festival site to see if other films from Japan are added.

Here is past coverage of the festival:

Venice International Film Festival 2017

Venice International Film Festival 2014

Venice International Film Festival 2013

Venice International Film Festival 2012

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