Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2020 (September 10th-20th)

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Post Header

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10th to the 20th and they have announced their selection of films. Due to the Covid-19, it is a reduced festival with just 50 titles but there are works from major directors as well as plenty of new talents. In terms of attending the fest, there are some in-person events like drive-ins, outdoor screenings and some indoor screenings, that will be mixed with online screenings and virtual press conferences talks. There are two Japanese films and they are both by leading ladies in the industry. Take a look!

True Mothers    True Mothers Film Poster

朝が来る Asa ga kuru

Release Date: October 23rd, 2020

Duration: 139 mins.

Director: Naomi Kawase

Writer: Naomi Kawase, Izumi Takahashi (Script), Mizuki Tsujimura (Original Novel)

Starring: Arata Iura, Hiromi Nagasaku, Miyoko Asada, Taketo Tanaka, Ren Komai, Go Riju, Hiroko Nakajima, Reo Sato,

Website IMDB

True Mothers is the latest movie by Naomi Kawase (Sweet Bean (2015), Radiance (2017)) and is based on a novel by Mizuki Tsujimura. It was turned into an eight-episode series based on broadcast in 2016 and has now been given a feature film treatment so fine that it was going to be screened at Cannes 2020 but the fest was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Synopsis: Kiyokazu Kurihara and his wife Satoko had given up trying for a baby after years of struggle but were lucky enough to be able to welcome a boy into their lives through special adoption. They have spent six happy years with their son, Asato, but the woman who gave birth to Asato, “Hikari Katakura”, tells them, “I want you to return my child.” The sordid history of Hikari and her impact on the Kurihara family is keenly felt in this drama… 


Under the Open Sky    Under the Open Sky Film Poster

すばらしき世界 Subarashiki Sekai

Release Date: February 11th, 2021

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Miwa Nishikawa

Writer: Miwa Nishikawa (Script), Ryuzo Saki (Original Novel)

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Taiga Nakano, Isao Hashizume, Meiko Kaji, Seiji Rokkaku, Masami Nagasawa, Narumi Yasuda, Yukiya Kitamura,


Under the Open Sky is the latest work from Miwa Nishikawa (Sway (2006), Dear Doctor (2009)) and the first film she has directed that isn’t based on a novel or script written by herself. The novel is by Ryuzo Saki and that had the original title Mibuncho and it sounds (slightly) a bit like Kikujiro (1999), in that it is about an ex-criminal who tries to adjust to life outside of the slammer and goes on a search for his mother.

Synopsis: Masao Mikami (Koji Yakusho) has spent 13 years in prison for committing a murder. Upon his release, he struggles to re-integrate and even begins to think about his mother, from whom he was separated from as a child. However, he becomes connected with various people including two men from a TV station who want to make a TV program that shows his life. 

That’s it for now. I’ll update it if any other films are added.

Here is past coverage:

Toronto International Film Festival 2011

Toronto International Film Festival 2012

Toronto International Film Festival 2013

Toronto International Film Festival 2014

Toronto International Film Festival 2015

Toronto International Film Festival 2017

Toronto International Film Festival 2018

Toronto International Film Festival 2019

3 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2020 (September 10th-20th)

      1. I first saw Hiromi in “Funuke: Show Some Love, You Losers” and thought she was adorable but also emotionally expressive, which she brought to “Rebirth”, as you so rightly say.

        And Meiko Kaji! Whoo! 😛

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