Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2021 (September 09th-18th)

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Post Header

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 09th to the 18th and they have announced their programme which consists of 100 films. This is a hybrid event with in-person and online screenings. Take a look!

Drive My Car   Drive My Car Film Poster

ドライブ・マイ・カー Doraibu Mai Ka-

Release Date: August 20th 2021

Duration: 179 mins.

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Writer: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Ooe (Script), Haruki Murakami (Original Novel)

Starring: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Masaki Okada, Reika Kirishima,

Website IMDB

Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Happy Hour) returns to Cannes following his 2018 film Asako I & II with an adaptation of the Haruki Murakami short story Drive My Car (from his collection of short stories Men Without Women). Earlier this year, Hamaguchi won the Silver Bear Award at Berlinale with Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.

The lead actor is Hidetoshi Nishijima (License to Live) who is paired with Reika Kirishima (Permanent NobaraNorwegian Wood) as a husband and wife separated by death and a secret.

Synopsis: Yusuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a stage actor and a stage director who is happily married to his playwright wife Fukaku (Reika Kirishima). Two years later, Yusuke lives with a sense of loss and the vague knowledge that she had a secret, When he takes a directing gig at a theatre festival in Hiroshima, he drives down in his beloved Saab where he meets Misaki (Toko Miura) who has been assigned as his exclusive chauffeur. She’s a taciturn person but while Yusuke spends time with her, he becomes aware of things which he had turned a blind eye to until then…


愛のくだらない Ai no Kudaranai

Release Date: August 27, 2021

Duration: 30 mins.

Director: Daichi Saito

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A


Synopsis: Montreal-based filmmaker Daichi Saito worked with sound artist and saxophonist Jason Sharp to make a film made up of shots from the Chilean Andes and given an evocative score to create a hypnotic experience of colourful conflagrations similar to “Rothko-esque abstractions.”

Inu-Oh   inu-oh_key-art1

犬王Inu Oh

Release Date: 2022

Duration: 90 mins.

Director: Masaaki Yuasa

Writer: Akiko Nogi (Script), Hideo Furukawa (Original Novel – Heike Monogatari – Inu-Oh no Maki)

Starring: Avu-chan (Inu-oh), Mirai Moriyama (Tomona),

Animation Production: Science SARU

Website ANN   MAL

This is an adaptation of Heike Monogatari – Inu-Oh no Maki by Hideo Furukawa and is based on the true story of 14th-century Sarugaku Noh performer and playwright Inu-Oh. The film is billed as a musical that will incorporate both modern song and dance which is all being produced by animation outfit Science SARU with ASMIK Ace working as distributor.

Manga artist, Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet, Ping PongSunny), who previously worked with Yuasa on Ping Pong: The Animation, is credited as the character designer. The screenplay comes from Akiko Nogi who has adapted manga into live-action films like Library Wars and I Am a Hero.

Synopsis from Asmik AceYou should make a song of my life with Biwa.”

Inu-Oh was a real person who lived in the 14th century. He was a Noh dancer and extremely popular in that era. However, he is all but unknown to people nowadays, because only few documents about his life remain. This film imagines his life.

Born with deformities that shocked people who saw him, his parents covered his body with garments and a mask. When he meets a boy named Tomona, a blind biwa player, Inu-Ou discovers an incredible ability to dance. The two become business partners and inseparable friends, using their creative gifts to survive on the margins of society, as song after song gain them notoriety and propel them to stardom. Through the songs, Inu-Ou mesmerizes his audiences on stage, and gradually begins to transform into someone of unequalled beauty. But why is Tomona blind? Why was Inu-Ou born with unique characteristics? It is a story about the friendship of Inu-Ou and Tomona, who dance and sing to get to the truth and break each other’s curse.

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

Toronto International Film Festival 2020

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