Japanese Films at the Glasgow International Film Festival 2020

The Glasgow Film Festival (February 26th – March 08th) will launch for its 16th edition at the end of the month and there are quite a few good anime titles plus one special indie which leads at the top of this post.

Here is what is on offer:

Kontora    Kontora Film Poster


Release Date: N/A

Duration: 145 mins.

Director: Anshul Chauhan

Writer: Anshul Chauhan (Script) 

Starring: Seira Kojima, Wan Marui, Hidemasa Mase, Takuzo Shimizu, Taichi Yamada,

Twitter IMDB

This is a distinct and impressive sophomore feature from Anshul Chauhan after his debut, Bad Poetry Tokyo (2017) with its gorgeous monochrome sheen and absorbing dramatic acting and mysterious story. It won the Grand Prix at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and it is one I am looking forward to seeing at the Osaka Asian Film Festival n March.

Synopsis:  When Sora’s (Wan Marui) grandfather passes away she loses the last person she feels she can communicate with. Her relationship with her father is very uneasy and so, when Sora discovers her grandfather’s wartime diary which hints at hidden treasure, she hides it in the hopes it can provide some outlet for herself. At this time a mysterious mute vagrant who only walks backwards appears in town and his presence provides a catalyst for change between father and daughter.

Ghost Master  Ghost Master Film Poster

ゴーストマスター  Go-suto Masuta-

Release Date: December 06th, 2019

Duration: 90 mins.

Director: Paul Young

Writer: Ichiro Kusuno (Script) 

Starring: Riko Narumi, Takahiro Miura, Mizuki Itagaki, Mariya Nagao, Motohisa Harashima, Hisayuki Teranaka, Yota Kawase, Yuki Shibamoto,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: A no-talent assistant director named Akira Kurosawa is working on yet another low-budget romance story in an abandoned school. His hopes of turning his script for the movie “Ghost Master” into a real film directed fails yet again and this rejection sends him flying into a rage that transfers evil energy into his script which takes over the romantic film he was working on. A demonic spirit possesses the lead actor, Yuya and crew members are picked off one by one in increasingly gory ways, Kurosawa has to figure out how to stop the curse before it’s too late!

The Truth    The Truth Film Poster

真実  Shinjitsu

Release Date: October 11th, 2019

Duration: 106 mins.

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Writer: Hirokazu Kore-eda (Screenplay),

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clementine Grenier, Ludivine Sagnier,

Website     IMDB

Following on from his win of the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival with Shoplifters, Kore-eda newest film is based in France and starring some of the luminaries of French cinema with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche (Certified Copy) and Ludivine Sagnier joined by Ethan Hawke, a truly talented American actor. This is the director’s first work set outside Japan but it features the sort of family narrative he is famous for as a clan is reunited in Paris and go through a cycle of lies, resentment, love and reconciliation.

Reviews have painted this one as another good Kore-eda film. It recently played at Busan where Kore-eda won Asian Filmmaker of the Year.

Synopsis:  Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) is a star of French cinema with the power to charm the men around her. When she publishes her memoirs, her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) returns from New York to Paris with her husband (Ethan Hawke) and their young child and a reunion between mother and daughter kicks off a confrontation that leads to truths being told, accounts settled, loves and resentments confessed.

Millennium Actress   4K Remaster

千年女優 「Sennen JoyuuMillennium Actress Film Poster 2

Release Date: September 14th, 2002

Duration: 83 mins.

Director: Satoshi Kon

Writer: Satoshi Kon (Screenplay),

Studio: Madhouse

Starring: Fumiko Orikasa (Chiyoko Fujiwara), Shouzou Iizuka (Genya Tacibana), Masaya Onosaka (Kyouji Ida), Kouichi Yamadera (Man of the Key),


Synopsis: One very obvious way the movies have changed the world is by giving us the movie star.

Issues of stardom – and fandom – are at the heart of this sweeping Japanese animation by Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue). Actress Chiyoko Fujiwara, an icon of 1950s cinema but now retired and living in seclusion, is visited one afternoon by a devoted fan wanting to make a documentary about her career. As they – and we, the audience – plunge back into her past, we hop between events in her real and her on-screen life in roles in a variety of genres and time-periods.

Conceived as a homage to the samurai epics, domestic dramas, space odysseys and monster movies of post-WW2 Japanese cinema, the film sets up further resonances in the character of Chiyoko herself who recalls both Hideko Takamine, an icon of hope for post-war Japanese filmgoers, and Setsuko Hara, one of Yazujiro Ozu’s favourite actresses, who disappeared from the public eye at the height of her stardom.

A movie studio is being torn down, and TV interviewer Genya Tachibana has tracked down its most famous star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who has been a recluse since she left acting some thirty years ago. Tachibana delivers a key to her, and it causes her to reflect on her career; as she’s telling the story, Tachibana and his long-suffering cameraman are drawn into her story as an actress, the decades spent acting across various genres and eras.

Violet Evergarden Side Story: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll    Violet Evergarden Side Story Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll Film Poster

ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン 外伝 永遠と自動手記人形  Baioretto Eba-ga-den Gaiden: Eien to Jidou Shuki Ningyou

Release Date: September 06th, 2019

Duration: 100 mins.

Director: Haruka Fujita

Writer: Takaaki Suzuki, Tatsuhiko Urahata (Screenplay), Reiko Yoshida (Series Composition), Kana Akatsuki (Original Creator)

Starring: Yui Ishikawa (Violet Evergarden), Aoi Yuuki (Taylor Bartlett), Minako Kotobuki (Isabella York), Aya Endo (Cattleya Baudelaire), Takehito Koyasu (Claudia Hodgins),

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Website ANN MAL

This side story to the television series is a forerunner to the theatrical film that gets released later this year. The arson attack at Kyoto Animation last year was devastating and the company is still recovering. Projects are now underway again but lives were lost. This film was finished the day before the fire and all of the staff involved are listed in the credits as living proof that they existed.

Yui Ishikawa will be taking part in a Q&A after the screening on March 1 according to Anime News Network.

Synopsis: Following the end of the Great War, Violet Evergarden, a young girl raised to destroy the enemy, was left with a shattered body and only words from the person she held dearest, but with no understanding of their meaning. She finds new purpose acting as an “Auto Memory Doll,” amanuenses that transcribe people’s thoughts and feelings into words on paper and travels the world in an adventure that will reshape the lives of her clients and hopefully lead to self-discovery.

In this film she meets Isabella, the heir to a noble house who attends a school for well-groomed young women, under a “contract” with her father. Isabella feels like a bird in a gilded cage and has given up hope for her future but an encounter with Violet gets her to reconsider things. 

Here’s coverage of Glasgow from past years:

GIFF 2019

GIFF 2018

GIFF 2017

GIFF 2016

GIFF 2015

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