Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

The Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 (VIFF) runs from September 24th to October 07th and it is packed with over 100 feature films from around the world. This year’s fest is going to be available for people to view online so this means that viewers in British Columbia can watch from the comfort of their homes via VIFF Connect, VIFF’s new online streaming platform. There will be talks and conferences that are open the everyone around the world to tune into on top of that.

Here’s the round-up of Japanese films.

The Town of Headcounts    Ninzu no Machi Film Poster

人数の町Ninzu no Machi

Release Date: September 04th, 2020

Duration: 111 mins.

Director: Shinji Araki

Writer: Shinji Araki (Script), Tomoso Nonaka (Original Novel)

Starring: Tomoya Nakamura, Shizuka Ishibashi, Eri Tachibana, Junpei Hashino, Rio Kanno, Elisa Yanagi, So Yamanaka,

Website IMDB

Described as “ambitious and compelling,” and “one of the most politically astute Japanese films in years”, this film looks like an interesting deconstruction of our consumerist age with big politics and dodgy social interactions all used to create a thriller. It looks like an original concept and definitely one of the more interesting Japanese films released this year! The film stars Shizuka Ishibashi (The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue), daughter of Ryo who is in a film mentioned below.

Synopsis: Aoyama (Tomoya Nakamura) is a young man shackled by debts and pursued by loan sharks but his life is saved when a mysterious bearded man in orange overalls takes him away to “The Town”, a place where he can dodge his debts and indulge himself in every comfort available, be it the pleasures of food, clothing or sex. It sounds like a great deal but Aoyama discovers that it is a place people can freely enter but cannot leave after he gets involved with a woman looking for her missing sister… 

A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic  A Life Turned Upside Down My Dad’s an Alcoholic Film Poster

酔うと化け物になる父がつらい You to bakemono ni naru chichi ga tsurai

Release Date: March 06th, 2020

Duration: 95 mins.

Directors: Kenji Katagiri

Writers: Kenji Katagiri, Ayumu Kyuma (Script), Mariko Kikuchi (Original Book)

Starring: Honoka Matsumoto, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Rie Tomosaka, Shohei Uno, Joe Odagiri, Tamae Ando, Kenta Hamano, Yui Imaizumi,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Adapted from a comic essay by Mariko Kikuchi who turned her troubled life into a story about a girl named Saki (Hoka Matsumoto) whose father (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) is an alcoholic and whose mother is a follower of a new religion. Saki hates her father’s behaviour when he is drunk and loutish but the support of her sister and best friend, and the ability to turn her life into a comic gets Saki through the collapse of her family. However, it affects her behaviour and future choice in partner…

Special Actors    Special Actors Film Poster

スペシャルアクターズ  Supesharu Akuta-zu

Release Date: October 18th, 2019

Duration: 109 mins.

Director: Shinichiro Ueda

Writer: Shinichiro Ueda (Screenplay) 

Starring: Hiroki Kono, Takuya Fuji, Ayu Kitaura, Yosuke Ueda, Yaeko Kiyose,

Website IMDB

Japan Cuts 2020 gets going with the latest film from Shinichiro Ueda, director of One Cut of the Dead, who once again. makes an ensemble comedy with a cast gathered from a workshop.  

Synopsis: Kazuto is a timid young guy who prefers to stay indoors to watch the adventures of the psychic hero Rescueman instead of being stressed outside. He had wanted to be an actor but a certain medical condition that causes him to faint at the first sign of stress affects him. Despite this, thanks to his brother, he joins an acting agency where he takes on small roles such as being a stand-in at a funeral. The stakes are raised when he ends up being recruited for a real life drama when a young woman named Yumi asks for help from the Special Actors to save her family’s inn from being sold to a brainwashing cult and it turns out that the Special Actors devise a complex plan that depends upon Kazuto…


Dancing Mary    Dancing Mary Film Poster

ダンシング・マリー Danshingu Mari-

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 105 mins.

Director: SABU

Writer: SABU (Script) 

Starring: NAOTO, Aina Yamada, Ryo Ishibashi

Website   IMDB

Following on from  jam (2018), SABU continues his collaboration with LDH production, the parent company of which manages the Gekidan EXILE group, whereby members from that group take roles in the films made. This one features Naoto, model-turned-actress Aina Yamada and musician-turned-actor Ryo Ishibashi (he who picked the wrong girl in Audition) in a love fantasy film with some yakuza action. It is based on an original script and was filmed in Kitakyushu, Tokyo and Taiwan.

Here’s my review

Synopsis: Kenji (EXILE Naoto) is a civil servant taking part in the creation of a gigantic shopping centre. When Kenji is assigned the task of overseeing the demolition of an old dance hall he discovers his job becomes impossible because some mysterious force stops every attempt. Turns out that the place is cursed so Kenji turns to a young woman who is a medium who can grant him access to the spirit world of spirits. But ghosts may be the least of his problems because the local yakuza clan gets involved…

Here’s my coverage of Vancouver from previous years:

Vancouver 2019

Vancouver 2018

Vancouver 2017

Vancouver 2016

Vancouver 2015

Vancouver 2014

Vancouver 2013

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