Japanese Films at the Raindance Film Festival 2018

This year’s Raindance Film Festival takes place from September 26th to October 07th and it takes place at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square. There are a selection of Japanese films that are sure to capture the interest of anybody including Room Laundering which caught the attention of many film fans when it played at Fantasia Film Fest in Canada. We also see Aya Igashi who was at Cannes in 2017 and an award-winning film from this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Here’s the line-up:

Room Laundering   Room Laundering Film Poster

ルームロンダリング Ru-mu Rondaringu

Running Time: 109 mins.

Release Date: July 07th, 2018

Director: Kenji Katagiri

Writer:  Kenji Katagiri, Tatsuya Umemoto (Screenplay),

Starring: Elaiza Ikeda, Joe Odagiri, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Miho Tsumiki, Eri Watanabe, Tomorowo Taguchi, Kaoru Mitsumune,

Website    IMDB

Tsutaya, the film rental company are involved with backing this title from a newbie director. It looks quirky as heck and features a fantastic cast.

Synopsis: Miko Yagumo (Elaiza Ikeda) has a strange job: she stays in the apartments of people who have just died in them. Murder, suicide, she’ll stay there. Why? Landlords must tell potential tenants if someone has died in the property they are planning to rent but the law is a bit fuzzy as to how many people down the line landlords need to inform. So in steps Miko, at the behest of her uncle Goro (Joe Odagiri) who got her into the gig, and she spends time at these places. Lately, she has begun to see ghosts. It kinda makes sense because Miko’s recently-disappeared mother had the same ability. Miko begins to act as an exorcist and a councillor for a variety of people who aren’t quite ready to give up the ghost on their apartments…

A Crimson Star    A Crimson Star Film Poster

真っ赤な星 Makkana hoshi

Running Time: 101 mins.

Release Date: December 01st, 2018

Director: Aya Igashi

Writer: Aya Igashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Yuki Sakurai, Miku Komatsu, Katsuya Maiguma, Ryuju Kobayashi, Maki Nishiyama, Takeshi Yamaya, Ruka Wakabayashi,Spica Yufune, Chika Kuboyama,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: A school girl named Yo makes a connection with a nurse named Yayoi when she is hospitalised but they lose contact. Some time later they meet again and things have changed: Yayoi is depressed and earns money as a prostitute while Yo suffers abuse from her step-father. Yo seeks refuge with Yayoi and a friendship develops as the older woman becomes a friend to her young house-mate. Things become complicated when Yayoi develops feelings for a paraglider, who can take her away from the harsh realities of life and soar through the skies…


Bad Poetry Tokyo      Bad Poetry Tokyo Film Poster

東京不穏詩 「Tōkyō fuon uta

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Anshul Chauhan

Writer: Anshul Chauhan, Rand Colter (Screenplay), Anshul Chauhan (Original Story)

Starring: Shuna Iijima, Orson Mochizuki, Takashi Kawaguchi, Nana Blank, Kohei Mashiba, Kento Furukoshi,

Website    IMDB

Bad Poetry Tokyo is a stunning human drama with a tone reminiscent of The Light Shines Only There (2014). It is lead by a powerful performance from lead actress Shuna Iijima who has to deal with heavy issues with a grace that is breathtaking and won her the Best Actress award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. Here’s my review of the film and an interview with the director and cast. Highly recommended.

Synopsis: Jun Fujita is 30 years old. She majored in English at Tokyo University. That is the lie she tells people when she applies for acting jobs. In reality, she works as a hostess at a shady club. Life hasn’t turned out the way she wanted when she escaped home back in Nagano Prefecture five years ago. Still, she dreams of being an actress and is about to touch her dream when she is betrayed by her lover and things go wrong at the club. Broken and made savage by the experience, she heads back to her sleepy hometown in the countryside to lick her wounds. Things haven’t changed much there and she reconnects with an old flame but there are ugly truths about her past that lurk beneath the surface …

Love At Least    Love At Least Film Poster

生きてるだけで、愛 Ikiteru dakede Ai

Running Time: 109 mins.

Release Date: November 09th, 2018

Director: Kosai Sekine

Writer: Kosai Sekine (Screenplay), Yukiko Motoya (Original Novel),

Starring: Masaki Suda, Riisa Naka, Shuri, Shizuka Ishibashi, Yutaka Matsushige, Naomi Nishida, Lisa Oda, Tetsushi Tanaka,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Yasuko (Shuri) is a hikikomori and unemployed. She has trouble staying awake due to her hypersomnia and also has difficulty controlling her emotions and can be verbally aggressive. She lives with her boyfriend Tsunagi (Masaki Suda), who works as an editor for a gossip magazine. He seems indifferent to her behaviour which leaves her frustrated but when Tsunagi’s ex-girlfriend Ando (Riisa Naka) appears with plans to break up the couple, Yasuko is forced to change and leave her room.

Matsuchiyo – Life of a Geisha

松千代一代記 Makkana hoshi

Running Time: 69 mins.

Release Date: December 01st, 2018

Director: Ken Nishikawa

Writer: Ken Nishikawa, Mike Rogers

Starring: Chizuko Nishikawa (Matsuchiyo), Ken Nishikawa, Sheena Rogers,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: This documentary looks at the world of geisha through the career of Matsuchiyo, a geisha for six decades who is still working. It is directed by her son, Ken Nishikawa, who delves into his mother’s life story and we hear her speak about her childhood during the war, her lengthy career to the present-day and how both she and the profession have changed over time. Ken Nishikawa also gets involved and talks about what it’s like to grow up as the child of a geisha. Ken Nishikawa was at last year’s film festival with the supernatural tale Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock ‘n’ Roll Story.

There are two short movies of interest to Japanese film fans. Each short movie will be shown before a feature.

Full Moon (Dir: Yukihiro Shoda, 9 mins, IMDB) is a US-Japan co-production that follows a compilation of intertwined snippets featuring various characters of diverse backgrounds from different parts of the world leading unique lives which are all shown to be tied together with the underlying message that we are all connected.

Selfie-Stick (自撮り棒, Dir: Rory O’Donnell, 6 mins) describes its story as… “Taking selfies around Tokyo can lead to some strange attachments.”

Here’s past coverage of the festival:

Raindance Film Festival 2013

Raindance Film Festival 2014

Raindance Film Festival 2015

Raindance Film Festival 2017

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