Japanese Films at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival 2020

The Skip City International D-Cinema Festival runs from Saturday, September 26th Skip City International DCinema Festival Poster 2020to Sunday, October 4th, 2020. Skip City was one of the first international competitive film festivals to exclusively feature digital cinema and in 2020 the 17th edition of the festival will be a totally difital experience as organisers take the festival online for the first time ever. There are 24 films programmed and they will be viewable over at the website Cinema Discoveries, a new streaming service that started in April this year. In terms of subtitles, Skip City provides English ones for Japanese films, so I am assuming they will do so for this year’s edition.

This is my first ever post about the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival even though I have been aware of it for many years since it is a hotbed of new film talent from Japan and its English-language information has helped me write trailer posts and festival previews in the past. The main reason I decided to write about it is because it features two works I reviewed as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival earlier this year. These two titles and the filmmakers whom I interviewed provide a bright future for the Japanese film industry and I hope more people can watch their films.

My rewrites will get rewritten eventually but, for now, I suggest that you go to the festival page to see a better synopses and more director information…

Here are the films. To find out more information about them, just click on the titles:

International Competition

Woman of the Photographs    Woman of the Photographs Film Poster

写真の女Shashin no Onna

Release Date: June 27th, 2020

Duration: 89 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kushida

Writer: Takeshi Kushida (Script),

Starring: Hideki Nagai, Itsuki Otaki, Toshiaki Inomata, Toki Koinuma, Takaaki Kikuchi, Keiko Katsukura, Ryo Tsuchida,

OAFF Website

Writer/director Takeshi Kushida makes his feature debut with Woman of the Photographs has been wowing people across the world with its pristine and inventive visuals and solid story of love in a time of social media madness.

Here’s my interview with the director and my review of the film.

Synopsis: Middle-aged photographer Kai (Hideki Nagai) is committed to living a bachelor’s life due to his gynaphobia but when an Instagram model named Kyoko (Itsuki Otani) crashes into his life, an offbeat meet-cute turns into a psycho-romance as her search for social media success draws him into helping her.

Japanese Film Competition (Feature Length)

Kontora   

コントラKontora

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. 

Here’s my review and an interview with the director Anshul Chauhan.

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.

Arano

あらののはてArano no hate

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 67 mins.

Director: Tomofumi Hasegawa

Writer: Tomofumi Hasegawa (Script), 

Starring: Hitomi Maki, Yusuke Takahashi, Yu Mashima, Harumi Shuhama, Takehiko Fujita, Miki Naruse

Synopsis: When high schooler Fuko poses for her art club classmate Alan early one morning, she didn’t expect that she would orgasm, let alone faint. This caused all sorts of problems as her homeroom teacher who happened upon the scene misread the situation and Alan was expelled from school, thus separating the two. Eight years later, Fuko still remembers that day and finds Alan to ask him to draw a picture of her again.

Cornflakes

コーンフレークKo-n Fure-ku

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 95 mins.

Director: Teppei Isobe

Writer: Teppei Isobe (Script), 

Starring: GON, Reiko Takada, Hinami Hino, Miyuu Teshima, Tomoki Kimura, Misato Namba, Kakeru Tsuchiya,

Synopsis: Miho and her boyfriend Yuya have lived happily together for seven years but while she works as an insurance salesperson, he lounges around half-hardheartedly pursuing dreams of being a musician. Their cosy life together comes to an end, one day, when they get into an argument and Miho throws Yuya out. Yuya has no place to go; Miho is all alone. After living together for seven years, the couple will spend this night apart.

B/B

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 77 mins.

Director: Kosuke Nakai

Writer: Kosuke Nakai (Script), 

Starring: Karen, Moshin Nakazawa, Kazane Nishimura, Honoka Kiba, Hitomichan, Taro Sanami, Ai Yonekura,

Synopsis from the festival: In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics have been cancelled due to the Olympic Minister’s corruption, and there was a failed poison gas attack by a new religion. In the shadows of these two major events, the brutal killing of a convenience store owner occurs. The incident is dubbed “Icarus.” Sana, who had contact with the owner’s son, Shiro, becomes the subject of interrogation by detectives. Suffering from dissociative identity disorder, she and the other personalities inside her each begin to recall events from their point of view.

The Rain’s Ark

雨の方舟Ame no Hakobune

Release Date: September 05th, 2020

Duration: 70 mins.

Director: Kao Senami

Writer: Kao Senami (Script), 

Starring: Nanaho Otsuka, Shohei Matsuzaki, Chihiro Kawashima, Yuto Uehara, Kikuno Ikeda, Manami Nakata,

Website

Synopsis: A young woman named Toko who wanders a forest finds herself in a home with four people who live a simple way of life based on living from the land but there is something strange about them and something mysterious begins to happen… 


Japanese Film Competition (Short Length)

Axandax

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 44 mins.

Director: Keita Niwa

Writer: Keita Niwa (Script), 

Starring: Hideaki Tani, Reno Yoshitsugu, Towa Suzuki, Mitsuo Tsuda, Ruka Hatori, Yuki Nakazono, Mikoto Matsushima,

Synopsis: In this dystopian film, in the near future, everything about us is digitised and easily accessible, leading to feelings of inferiority as we compare our lives. One man, Jin, chooses to leave civilisation and live far away in the mountains. When Naomi, a counsellor, visits him, Jin gradually tells her his story and why he lives isolated from others. 

Limelight

来夢来人Raimraito

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 36 mins.

Director: Ryuya Wakaba

Writer: Ryuya Wakaba (Script), 

Starring: Ryunsuke Ito, Sho Yakumaru, Iku Arai, Ritsu Otomo, Ikuma Nagatomo, Hideto Nitta, Gunma Kurio,

A neat little pun in the Japanese title which can be read as “raimraito” (limelight) but also means dream comes person comes. 来夢来人

No trailer

Synopsis: Kenji is experiencing a series of humiliations. He has given up his dream of becoming an actor and now works part-time as a courier and Harumi, his girlfriend of three years, has broken up with him and asks that he gets his things from her apartment. He arrives earlier than scheduled and meets his ex’s new boyfriend Yuji. The two start to have an awkward conversation that naturally goes to Harumi who comes home amid an uneasy atmosphere

Muito Prazer

ムイト・プラゼールMutio Puraze-ru

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 31 mins.

Director: Park Jen-gil

Writer: N/A

Starring: Chong Sun-yong, Debora Barbosa Eguchi, Mion Fujii, Rodrigo Sato, Yuki Yamazaki, Kazutoshi Kawabe,

Muito Prazer is Portuguese for “much pleasure” and it is the title of a drama shot with non-professional actors who explore an issue pertinent to our age which is experiencing demands for social justice.

Synopsis: High school teacher Kanamoto is the adviser of the international exchange club and she takes her charges to visit a school in Ibaraki for Brazilians of Japanese descent. What they get is a hostile reception as the Brazilian students have faced repeated discrimination and abuse. Will the two groups be able to bridge the gap between them?

Payment

つぐないTsugunai

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 38 mins.

Director: Kazuyuki Miyabe

Writer: Kazuyuki Miyabe (Script), 

Starring: Fusako Urabe, Daisuke Kuroda, Nanaka Shogaki, Shoichiro Suzuki, Masami Koba, Naoko Shimizu, Natsuko Nagahama,

Synopsis: Satomi’s  young daughter has gone missing and the police are stumped. She grows suspicious of the apartment building’s secretive janitor who seems to know something about the case and observes her…

Radio

レイディオReideio

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 45 mins.

Director: Kazuyuki Miyabe

Writer: N/A

Starring: Shunya Kato, Miyu Matsuoka, Jumpei Yoshii, Yuji Ishii.

Synopsis: Kato is a university student who is drifting through life and struggling to relate to anyone else but there is one person who shares his hobby of listening to a late-night radio programme and that is Matsuoka, a girl who tells him, “I want to live a life without regrets.” Kato feels attracted to her but soon realises she lives in a world different from his own.

Ritsuko & Ken-chan

リッちゃん、健ちゃんの夏。Ricchan, Kenchan no Natsu

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 31 mins.

Director: Ayumi Omori

Writer: Ayumi Omori (Script), 

Starring: Iriya Take, Kenta Oikawa, Chiona Okuni

This was shot in the World Heritage site of Kuroshima in Nagasaki Prefecture and uses its history of Christianity as a backdrop for the film’s story.

Synopsis: Highschooler Ritsuko will move to Tokyo during summer break which means leaving her beloved Japanese language teacher, Ken-chan, behind. She follows him to Kuroshima where his parents reside and tries to get his attention. 

Sitting at an Angle

ななめの食卓Naname no shokutaku

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 27 mins.

Director: Ayaka Kishi

Writer: N/A

Starring: Tomoko Takama, Tomohiko Kiyota, Kiyomi Tanigawa, Yuya Tamaki, Makoto Yamashita,

Synopsis: Tatsunori is a widower who lives with his mother-in-law Nobuko. Both are awkward with each other, their one link, Haru, having died suddenly in a traffic accident. Although they eat together, they each face an empty seat and struggle to decide what to do about the future.

Stay

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 38 mins.

Director: Naoya Fujita

Writer: Suzuyuki Kaneko (Script),

Starring: Keita Yamashina, Ruka Ishikawa, Takaki Uda, Yumi Endo, Kenta Yamagishi, Kohei Nagano, Suzuyuki Kaneko,

I saw this one as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 and felt an atmosphere of desolation running through it. Beautifully shot and with intriguing human relations but the disappearances were terribly desolate…

Synopsis from the filmmaker: People who have no obvious connection with one another live in an abandoned house that has fallen into disrepair, coming and going as they please. Yajima is a village official who shows up at the house with an eviction notice in hand. However, he gets drawn into the pace of the people living there, especially the central figure Suzuyama, and fails to persuade them to leave. Unable to perform his job, Yajima ends up staying the night there.

Then I Add Colors to a Panda and a Zebra.

そして私はパンダやシマウマに色を塗るのだ。Soshite watashi wa panda ya shimauma no iro wo nurunoda

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 39 mins.

Director: Karin Takeda

Writer: Karin Takeda (Script), 

Starring: Yuki, Kansaku Shinohara, Ryota Takeda, Kayoko Kimura, Keiji Murata, Mako Shimizu,

Synopsis: Shirahoshi is a girl who is a perfectionist. If she can’t be the best, then she might as well give up. That’s why she quit her dream of being a manga artist when she won the runner-up prize in a contest and that is why she is shocked when her boyfriend, who was her perfect match, dumps her. Looking for a new job and trying to cope with rejection, she meets a suspicious man and self-proclaimed ghost who warns her that not everything has to be “black or white.”

2 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival 2020

    1. I felt the same way when looking at the films programmed. I particularly want to see Then I Add Colors to a Panda and a Zebra. and Cornflakes. I hope these films go to other festivals.

      Thanks for the comment!

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