A Preview of the Kanazawa Film Festival 2021 in Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Art (September 18-20)

The Kanazawa Film Festival 2021 will take place this year from September 18th (Saturday) to the 20th (Monday) at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Theatre 21. There are different sections but the one I am focussing on is dedicated to New Directors.

In the New Directors section, there are 11 films which were selected from 83 submissions. Each of the films is new and so they were done during the Coronavirus pandemic. The winner of the Grand Prix “Promising New Director Award” will receive 2 million yen to support his or her next film.

 I hope you and I get some use out of this information and from the images, all of which have been taken from the film festival’s website:

Zenshin hanzai-sha

全身犯罪者 Zenshin hanzai-sha

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 20 mins.

Director: Yukito Matsuno

Writer: Yukito Matsuno (Script), 

Starring: Yukito Matsuno

Website IMDB

Yukito Matsuno made this work as his graduation project from the Department of New Media at Nihon University College of Art. It won the Nihon University College of Art Dean’s Award. He is currently working as a compositor at a post-production company.

Synopsis: A detective uses a time machine to travel through time and space to contact some of Japan’s most famous criminals to ask for their help in catching the criminals responsible for a series of brutal murders. Yukito Matsuno, the director, writer, editor, musician, artist, musician etc. plays 11 characters in a film which could have the tagline: “The Japanese criminals’ version of “The Avengers” is born.”

Experience Tour

体験型ツアー Taiken-gata Tsua

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 120 mins.

Director: MELIA

Writer: MELIA (Script),

Starring: MELIA, Grey Toriyama

MELIA is a third year student at Waseda University, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, and a member of the Japanese Academy of Arts and Sciences. A writer, director, actor, and musician, she has made a grip of award-winning films in the past. 

Synopsis: After MELIA is attacked by a street thief, she comes apart existentially as she is unable to hold on to her immense and uncontrollable hatred and decides to commit suicide. HOWEVER! Her beloved dog Maru stops her but this plunges her into even more despair. Salvation seems to come when she hears a revelation that “there is a hell” and that rape victims can go to heaven after death, and from there they can go to hell to seek revenge. With this knowledge, will she be able to let go of her anger…

Nishizono-san wa Kyou mo

西園さんは今日も Nishizono-san wa Kyou mo

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 70 mins.

Director: Hideyo Gamou

Writer: Hideyo Gamou (Script),

Starring: Hideyo Gamou, Mayuka Hirayama, Yuka Seto, Hirosaku Shinohara,

Hideyo Gamou graduated with a degree in German Literature and has been making independent films for quite a while. 

Synopsis: Keiichiro (Hideyo Gamou) has mental health issues due to a trauma he suffered during his high school days. His current girlfriend, Sara (Mayuka Hirayama), finds herself affected by these issues but stays by his side as they seek out a former high school classmate who could help, but…

The Shaman’s Daughter

シャーマンの娘 Sha-man no Musume

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 140 mins.

Director: Yusuke Isaka

Writer: Yusuke Isaka (Script),

Starring: Nagisa Kihara, Kohei Nagano, Akari Sato, Makoto Tezuka, Mizuho Osu,

Yusuke Isaka is a graduate of Rikkyo University’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts. While working at an animation production company, he directed his first film, Ghost Idol Koharu, which was selected for the PFF Awards 2015. Since then, he has made a series of short films. This is his debut feature.

Synopsis: Kengo’s girlfriend Sayuri reappears in his life following her death. Far from being freaked out, Kengo thinks Sayuri is cute. However, the daughter of a shaman has developed feelings for Kengo. How will this potential love triangle develop?

In new and surprising ways, according to the synopsis!


共振 Kyoushin

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 103 mins.

Director: Keiichi Higuchi

Writer: Keiichi Higuchi (Script),

Starring: Akihiro Yamamoto, Daichi Yamaguchi, Mitsuki Moriyama, Keisuke Sohma, Kousen, Kimika Yoshino

Website IMDB

Keiichi Higuchi recently finished working for a video production company and became an independent filmmaker. He has directed commercials and music videos as well as independent films.

Synopsis: Takehiko Kayano is an empath whose abilities went into overdrive after a horrific incident. Now he feels the physical pain and suffering that others feel as if it were his own. One day, Takehiko finds an opening for a clinical trial for people with empathic nature and decides to take it…

Kabukicho Virgin Jump

歌舞伎町ヴァージンジャンプ Kabukicho Va-jin Janpu

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 85 mins.

Director: Hokuto Ogawa

Writer: Hokuto Ogawa (Script),

Starring: Eichika Yoshida, Michinari Sasaki, Akane Shiina, Keitoku Ito, Koga, Ke-suke, Ryutaro Yamazaki, Sumire Ueno,

Hokuto Ogawa worked for seven years as an actor on stage and in films before founding his own film production team “Zero Film” and releasing his first film in 2017.

Synopsis: Satoru Koizumi works at “delivery health” service in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district. This service is really a euphemism for an illegal brothel. When one of the sex workers, a girl named Sakura, commits suicide by jumping off a building, Satoru is prompted to visit the rooftop of the incident where he finds and rescues a girl who looks as if she is about to throw herself off the building… 

The next two films are by Yukimitsu Mori, a director who traded his 30-year career as an ordinary salaryman to make films after being hospitalized for cancer. 

Shin’en kara Ai wo Komete

深淵から愛を込めて Shin’en kara Ai wo Komete

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 11 mins.

Director: Yukimitsu Mori

Writer: Yukimitsu Mori (Script),

Starring: Shiho Nakazawa, Motoyasu Shimamura, Yuki Takei, Toshiyuki Imamura,

Synopsis: Many questions surround mankind’s destructive tendencies in this short which questions why and, quite ominously, of there is any love left in the universe for humanity?

Toumeina Shuumatsu

透明な終末 Toumeina Shuumatsu

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 11 mins.

Director: Yukimitsu Mori

Writer: Yukimitsu Mori (Script),

Starring: Kosaku Mori, Yukino Saegusa, Mako

Synopsis: A man who faces end of the human world finds reality becomes distorted as a woman joins him as does the guardian of the cat world in this strange apocalypse filled with unique characters.

The Outside World

外の世界 Soto no Sekai

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 66 mins.

Director: Takuya Shimamura

Writer: Takuya Shimamura (Script),

Starring: Hisao Kurozumi, Aya Ayano, Ryutaro Yamazaki, Kohei Nagano, Kaori Takeshita, Hiroki Horikawa

Takuya Shimamura is an indie filmmaker who graduated from Digital Hollywood University. He has assembled a cast of actors who will be familiar from the indie work – Aya Ayano – Love and Goodbye and Hawaii, Kaori Takeshita – Filled with Steam

Synopsis: Kazuya Oshima is a young man searching for his path in life. It’s tough going as he is beset by misfortune and wrong turns: he struggles with and eventually quits his job at a publisher, he fails to find a new job, and he gets dumped by his girlfriend Mai. In the midst of all this, Kazuya begins to write a screenplay with the help of his friends from college in order to enter a screenplay competition which he had previously been unsuccessful at when he was in college. Will he be able to find his metier here???

Before the Rainbow Falls

虹が落ちる前に Niji ga Ochiru Mae ni

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Koji Uehara

Writer: Koji Uehara (Script),

Starring: Ryunosuke Moriyama, Hitomi Uneda, Daichi Shiraiso, Nobumitsu Suematsu, Touma Kajita, Tatsuya Kon,

Koji Uehara is described as a street icon from Osaka who is supported by many young people, not only for his music but also for his fashion and way of life, from the underground scene to the mainstream. This is his first feature film as a director.

Synopsis: The protagonist is a weak-willed young man who works at a bar and is the lead singer of an unsuccessful band. What stops him from pushing forward is that he is spoiled by his friends and a loving girlfriend who support him, and so he spends his days taking things for granted. And yet, somehow, the young man could feel that change is necessary. Perhaps it is the dissatisfaction in his heart. When things start to heat up with his band, a member’s involvement with the criminal underworld threatens to bring them down. In this desperate time, the protagonist’s songwriting skills light up…

yes, yes, yes

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 74 mins.

Director: Akihiko Yano

Writer: Akihiko Yano, (Script), 

Starring: Kazuma Uesugi, Kazunari Uryu, Minami Inoue, Nahoko Kawasumi,


This one is an absolute stunner of a film. It features searing dramatic performances and such a focussed script and direction that it will hit you in the heart. Here’s my review and here’s my interview with director Akihiko Yano.

Synopsis: In this ensemble drama, we watch a few days in the life of a family of four people who have to wrestle with the devastating news that the mother, Sayuri (Nahoko Kawasumi), may not be able to come back from hospital after the return of a serious illness. Each member of the family is personally devastated but the one who seems to take this news the worst is teenage son Takeaki (Kazuma Uesugi) who lacks the maturity to process what it all means and so he bristles with nihilistic angerIn contrast, his older sister Juri (Minami Inoue) knows enough to put on a brave face but her mind is also elsewhere as she faces her own lonely struggle on her way to single-motherhood. Meanwhile, their father, Masaaki (Kazunari Uryu), has adopted a false mask as he desperately tries to play the patriarch to hide his own fear and sadness. At this moment of crisis when they should all be pulling together, each person retreats into themselves and their family begins to fall apart. However, it is only in facing death that each person can learn to cherish life.

Tickets went on sale on Sunday 09th June and can be bought at Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art’s shop and it’s a good idea to buy in advance since they only cost 1000 yen. Tickets are 1200 yen on the day.

One day pass – 4500 yen

Festival pass – 17000 yen

Previous festival coverage:

Kanazawa Film Fest 2017

Kanazawa Film Fest 2019

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