Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2018

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

The Vancouver International Film Festival 2018 runs from September 27th to October 12th and it has a selection of Japanese films seen at festivals such as Cannes and Udine but there is one new title which hasn’t been picked up by any festival that I have seen thus far. Just like last year, it has a film starring Ai Hashimoto and one directed by Daihachi Yoshida. It’s a good line-up so if you cannot attend Toronto or Fantasia, go see the films here.

Shoplifters   Shoplifters Film Poster

万引き家族 Manbiki Kazoku

Running Time: 121 mins.

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…

The Scythian Lamb    The Scythian Lamb Film Poster

羊の木 Hitsuji no ki

Running Time: 126 mins.

Release Date: February 03rd, 2018

Director: Daihachi Yoshida

Writer: Masato Kagawa (Screenplay), Tatsuhiko Yamagami, Mikio Igarashi (Original Manga),

Starring: Ryo Nishikido, Fumino Kimura, Kazuki Kitamura, Yuka, Mikako Ichikawa, Shingo Mizusawa, Min Tanaka, Ryuhei Matsuda, Tamae Ando,

Website IMDB
Daihachi Yoshida of The Kirishima Thing fame is back with this murder mystery which is a strong dramedy about secrets and redemption. Here’s my review

Synopsis: Thanks to a government program, the small seaside town of Uobuka gets six strangers into the community. They include a scary fisherman (Kazuki Kitamura), a methodical cleaning woman (Mikako Ichikawa), and a simple-minded deliveryman (Ryuhei Matsuda). All are under the supervision of local government official Hajime Tsukisue (Ryo Nishikido) who gets reports of suspicious behaviour. When he finds out who these people are and their criminal backgrounds, a body is discovered in the harbour and Tsukisue suspects one of the newcomers committed murder… 

It’s Boring Here, Pick Me Up    It's Boring Here, Take Me Away Film Poster

ここは退屈迎えに来て Koko wa Taikutsu Mukae ni Kite

Running Time: 97 mins.

Release Date: October 19th, 2018

Director: Ryuichi Hiroki

Writer: Mariko Yamauchi (Screenplay), Tomonari Sakurai (Manga)

Starring: Ai Hashimoto, Mugi Kadowaki, Ryo Narita, Daichi Watanabem Yurina Yanagi, Yukino Kishii, Jun Murakami, Rio Uchida,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Two women, one man.

I (Ai Hashimoto) has returned to her home town after 10 years in Tokyo and has moved back in with her parents. She works as a freelance writer and spends her days meeting ol high school friends. She also contacts Shiina (Ryo Narita), her high school crush, There is also Me (Mugi Kadowaki) who stayed in her home town and dated Shiina. They broke up but she finds him hard to forget. A love triangle develops.

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.

One Cut of the Dead One Cut of the Dead Film Poster

カメラを止めるな! 「Kamera wo tomeru na!

Running Time: 96 mins.

Release Date: November 04th, 2017

Director:  Shinichiro Ueda

Writer: Shinichiro Ueda (Screenplay),

Starring: Kazuki Nagaya, Manabu Hosoi, Tomokazu Yamaguchi,


Great to see the ENBU Seminar guys are still going. Seven years on and there are two this weekend. The first looks like the Romero film Diary of the Dead. It will be released in the UK later this year.

Synopsis: A film crew shooting a zombie movie in the mountains finds that their work turns real when honest to goodness zombies start showing up and chowing down on the crew. Does the director stop? Hell no! He keeps on shooting.

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.

Mori, The Artist’s Habitat   Mori, The Artist_s Habitat Film Poster

モリのいる場所 Mori no Iru Basho

Running Time: 99 mins.

Release Date: May 19th, 2018

Director: Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shuichi Okita (Screenplay),

Starring: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kirin Kiki, Ryo Kase, Ken Mitsuishi, Kitaro, Nobue Iketani, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Munetaka Aoki,

Website IMDB

Shuichi Okita, director of A Story of Yonosuke and The Woodsman and the Rain brings a gentle dramedy about an elderly couple. It looks relaxing and you can’t go wrong with Kirin Kiki.

Synopsis from Nikkatsu International: He lays among the shrubs and trees in his garden and observes the scurrying ants. This 94-year-old bearded man is Morikazu Kumagai, aka Mori, and he is a painter. For the last 30 years he’s hardly left his property. Most of his day is spent tirelessly observing his garden and all living things in it, which he renders into paintings. He paints every evening in a studio he calls the “school.” While he goes about his business, his wife Hideko attends to a string of visitors. In the garden there are the critters and insects and on the porch, birds in cages overlook the garden. Mori and Hideko live peacefully, surrounded by the things they love. But then some developers decide to build a condominium next door which puts their small paradise at risk. It will block the sun and the garden will be uninhabitable. Mori and Hideko decide to take action to protect the garden they cherish… The film is a humorous depiction of a summer day in the life of an old couple who’ve been together 52 years, in the more affable social atmosphere of the 1970s.

Here’s my coverage of Vancouver from previous years:

Vancouver 2017

Vancouver 2016

Vancouver 2015

Vancouver 2014

Vancouver 2013

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