Japanese Films at the Berlin International Film Festival 2021


Like Rotterdam earlier this month, the Berlin International Film Festival has had to change its format due to Covid-19 and so it launches in two sections. From the website:

From March 1 to 5, 2021, the 71st Berlinale is being launched with an Industry Event (European Film MarketBerlinale Co-Production MarketBerlinale Talents and Word Cinema Fund) for film professionals and accredited representatives of the press. All Industry Event activities will take place online.
Information on Participating in the Industry Event
Selected events from Berlinale Talents (talks and live workshops) and the World Cinema Fund (WCF Day) will be accessible online to the general public. The respective programmes will be published in mid-February.

From June 9 to 20, 2021, the Summer Special will give the general public the opportunity to see the majority of the 2021 selected films in Berlin cinemas in the presence of the filmmakers. The opening of the Summer Special will be celebrated with a gala event on June 9.

Check this festival page just before the Summer Special to see what will be screened in cinemas. I’ll update this post if more films are added.

What are the Japanese films programmed so far?

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

偶然と想像 Guzen to sozo

Release Date: March, 2021

Duration: 121 mins.

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Writer: Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Script), 

Starring: Kotone Furukawa, Hyunri, Ayumu Nakajima (segment “Magic (or Something Less Assuring”)), Shouma Kai, Katsuki Mori, Kiyohiko Shibukawa (segment “Door Wide Open”), Aoba Kawai, Fusako Urabe (segment “Once Again”),


Three short stories make up this omnibus film directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi who is famous for Happy Hour, which won a special mention for script and best actress at Locarno in 2015, and Asako I & II, which played at Cannes 2018 in the Competition section.  Each of the stories has the theme of “coincidence” and “imagination”.

Synopsis: “Magic (or Something Less Assuring”) realises that the man her best friend has talked about as “hitting on her” is a former boyfriend who broke up with her two years ago. “Door Wide Open” features a story of a student who failed to graduate planning to ruin a professor’s reputation by using a girl to trap him. “Once Again” sees two women who reunited in Sendai for the first time in 20 years. They each share feelings that they have held in their hearts since their high school days.

A Balance     A Balance Film Poster

由宇子の天秤 Yuuko no Tenbin

Release Date: September 09th, 2021

Duration: 137 mins.

Director: Yujiro Harumoto

Writer: Yujiro Harumoto (Script), 

Starring: Kumi Takiuchi, Yumi Kawai, Masahiro Umeda, Yuuya Matsuura, Misa Wada, Ryo Ikeda, Hiroki Kono, Yota Kawase, Ken Mitsuishi,

Yujiro Harumoto made waves with his feature debut Going the Distance. He has a great cast of actors for his latest, a social drama as seen through the eyes of a documentarian played by Kumi Takiuchi (Greatful Dead), an actress who is really coming into her own in recent years with her performances in Kamata PreludeIt Feels So Good). This has previously played at last year’s Busan International Film Festival and also Tokyo FILMeX.

Synopsis: Yuko returns to her hometown as a documentary filmmaker determined to examine an instance of school violence that resulted in suicides three years ago while she was teaching classes at her father’s cram school. Yuko discovers a hidden truth that makes her become deeply involved in the lives of the families of the stuents and also causes a shock that upends her own life. 



Here is past coverage I have offered on the festival:

Berlin Film Festival 2020

Berlin Film Festival 2019

Berlin Film Festival 2018

Berlin Film Festival 2017

Berlin Film Festival 2016

Berlin Film Festival 2015

Berlin Film Festival 2014

Berlin Film Festival 2013

Berlin Film Festival 2012 Competition Results

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.