Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2020 (September 02nd – 12th)

The Venice International Film Festival is going to take place from September 02nd to September 12th. It is the 77th edition and the first big film festival to take place physically since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is one Japanese feature and two VR experiences with a Japanese connection. Without further ado, here are the films!

Wife of a Spy    Wife of a Spy Film Poster

スパイの妻Supai no tsuma

Release Date: October 16th, 2020

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Tadashi Nohara (Script),

Starring: Yu Aoi, Masahiro Higashide, Hyunri, Issey Takahashi, Yuri Tsunematsu, Takashi Sasano, Chuck Johnson, Ryota Bando, Minosuke    Wife of a Spy Film Poster 2

Website IMDB

This is the theatrical cut of the NHK drama of the same name which aired on June 06th, 2020. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and scripted by Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Happy Hour) and Tadashi Nohara, the film is a period piece that reunites the central couple of Romance Doll Yu Aoi (Hana and Alice) and Issey Takahashi (Shin Godzilla). This is the second time that Yu Aoi has worked with Kurosawa, following Penance and it is the second time for Masahiro Higashide following Creepy

To differentiate it from the television version, the movie version will have a new screen size and colour tone.

Update(12/09/20): Kurosawa won the Silver Lion – Award for Best Director!

Synopsis: Japan in the 1940s is very dangerous if you have an opinion that dissents from the wartime rhetoric of the government. As the nation gears up for the Pacific War, a businessman from Kobe named Yusaku (Issey Takahashi) risks everything when he tries to tell the world of a barbaric act he witnessed while on a business trip to Manchuria. For this choice in exercising his right to speak out, he is accused of being a traitor. His wife Satoko (Yu Aoi) swears to stand by her beloved husband whatever the cost. This is her story. The story of Satoko as the wife of a spy. 

Beat (Dir: Keisuke Itoh, 12 mins. website)

“Beat” is a VR experience where viewers encounter a rusted robot who doesn’t have a “heart” to move. The “Heart” of the viewer becomes the power to bring the robot to life as the heart in the animation mimics and vibrates at the same pace at viewers’ heartbeat. The robot will then stand up and move, expressing joy to live out all his strength and also grow as the robot meets other robots.

The Book of Distance (Dir: Randall Okita, 25 mins. website)

National Film Board of Canada

Randall Okita has made an animation of his grandfather Yonezo Okita’s journey from his home in Hiroshima to Canada. Starting in 1935, it takes in drama surrounding the war and state-sanctioned racism. It is billed as “an interactive virtual pilgrimage through an emotional geography of immigration and family to recover what was lost” involving family archives and 2D/3D hand-crafted sets reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints.

Here is past coverage of the festival:

Venice International Film Festival 2019

Venice International Film Festival 2018

Venice International Film Festival 2017

Venice International Film Festival 2014

Venice International Film Festival 2013

Venice International Film Festival 2012

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