Following on from releasing info on the outline of this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival 2022 and the Opening and Closing films that will be screened in cinemas in Osaka, I will now go into a bit more detail of the online portion of the festival which launches TODAY and is available around the world. Read on!
There will be online screenings featuring Japanese indie films and many of these film will be available to international viewers. This part runs from March 3 to 21 via the festival’s online portal, OSAKA ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL ONLINE (English available) where people can stream them.
- You can purchase a “rent” ticket for each film during the above period. You can rent a single film or get a pass for all 10 films.
- You will have two-day window to start watching a rented film after the purchase, and you will have 48-hour window to finish watching it after pressing the “play” button.
- You cannot watch rented films after expiration. Also note that it may take time to complete purchase and/or start playing, depending on internet connection.
As mentioned on the site, many of the films have been screened at the OAFF in the past and now is the perfect time to reintroduce to the world. For many titles, this will be their online debut and, once again, many available to a worldwide audience!!!
Here are the films:
<Online Opening Film>
Release Date: July 10th, 2010
Duration: 104 mins.
Director: Yutaka Yamazaki
Writer: Yutaka Yamazaki, Yuki Sato (Script),
Starring: Makiko Watanabe, Sakura Ando, Sola Aoi, Arata Iura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyako Yamaguchi,
This is the first film planned, directed, co-written, and more by Yutaka Yamazaki, a veteran cameraman and cinematographer for Japanese TV documentaries and films. His work as cinematographer stretches from Naomi Kawase (Still the Water, Shara) to Miwa Nishikawa (The Long Excuse) but it can most often be seen in Hirokazu’s Kore-eda’s films stretching from After Life, to Distance, Nobody Knows, Still Walking, I Wish, and After the Storm. His film covers themes of love and sexuality and is said to be show with an eye for “sensitive and detailed images captures an element of the female mentality.”
Sounds intriguing and he has the style!
A must-look aspect of the film are the leading ladies as, playing the film’s half-sisters are leading actresses Makiko Watanabe (Love Exposure, Still the Water) and Sakura Ando (Shoplifters, 100 Yen Love). They are supported by a stellar cast. Trailer and story below!
Synopsis: Hiroko (Makiko Watanabe) is an office lady who has an aversion to people. She is quite content with leading solitary life, her only companion being her “Torso,” a limbless inflatable male doll which she treats like a real boyfriend. In contrast, there is her free-spirited half-sister Mina (Sakura Ando), who lives life as if she is in pursuit of human warmth. Fed up with her boyfriend’s violence and infidelity, Mina comes knocking on Hiroko’s door and begins a cohabitation with Hiroko and her Torso which sets off a heart-breaking tale that reveals their deep sorrow and anxiety over the course of a summer.
息ぎれの恋人たち 「Ikigire no koibito-tachi」
Running Time: 20 mins.
Director: Shumpei Shimizu
Writer: Shumpei Shimizu (Screenplay)
Starring: Kaito Yoshimura, Fusako Urabe, Daisuke Kuroda, Atsushi Shinohara
Breathless Lovers is the latest work from Shumpei Shimizu, who studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts famous graduate school. His career features a directorial debut named Fuzakerun Janeeyo (2014) which was produced by Shinji Aoyama and he also worked on Martin Scorsese’s film, Silence. Shimizu’s short explores a pathological relationship between a man and the ghost of his lover. Here’s my review.
The story concerns Toshiyuki (Kaito Yoshimura), a 23-year-old guy who recently lost his boyfriend Tatsuya in a motorcycle accident. While he physically survived the accident, Toshyuki has been mentally wounded and is unable to ride or drive any vehicles. If he needs to go anywhere, he walks or runs and he does this despite having asthma. To try and connect with Tatsuya, Toshiyuki visits the boxing gym his ex-lover used to train at and performs the same emotionally and physically draining routines over and over as he follows the ghost of Tatsuya. Meanwhile Tatsuya’smother, Chieko (Fusako Urabe) has travelled from Hiroshima to Tokyo to meet Toshiyuki for the anniversary of her son’s death. She stoically goes through the motions and polite formalities expected by society but this year will be different…
Chigasaki Story Film Poster
3泊4日、5時の鐘「3-paku 4-nichi, 5-ji no kane」
Release Date: September 19th, 2015
Running Time: 89 mins.
Director: Takuya Misawa
Writer: Takuya Misawa (Screenplay),
Starring: Kiki Sugino, Haya Nakazaki, Ena Koshino, Natsuko Hori, Juri Fukushima, Shuntaro Yanagi
Chigasaki Story is a comedy drama done by Takuya Misawa and produced by Kiki Sugino (The Snow Woman). You can read my review of Misawa’s most recent film, The Murders of Oiso, and you can read my interview with him.
Synopsis: Tomoharu (Nakazaki) works at a traditional Japanese inn called Chigasakikan Hotel. This is where the film master Yasujiro Ozu retired to write his screenplays. Tomoharu works with Karin (Koshino) and Maki (Sugino). Risa (Hori), the daughter of the inn’s owner, is set to have a wedding in three days and various people show up each with repressed feeling for each other that soon come out just before the wedding…
浜辺のゲーム 「Hamabe no Ge-mu」
Running Time: 77 mins.
Release Date: May 04th, 2019
Director: Aimi Natsuto
Writer: Aimi Natsuto (Screenplay),
Starring: Haruna Hori, Shinsuke Kato, Juri Fukushima, Otsuka Nanaho, Donsaron Kovitanitcha,
I saw Jeux de Plage at the Osaka Asian Film Festival. It is the debut feature of Aimi Natsuto. Natsuto’s past film experience comes, most notably, from collaborating with Kiki Sugino having acted alongside her in Chigasaki Story (2015) and worked as a script editor on Snow Woman (2017). Jeux de plage was produced under the auspices of Sugino’s production company, Wa Entertainment. It reminded of Koji Fukada’s Au revoir l’ete (2013), also made by Wa Entertainment. However, I was much more entertained by Jeux de plage. While the two films share passions for various things Gallic, similar themes, a coastal setting and scripts with deconstructions of character and romance very reminiscent of Eric Rohmer’s oeuvre, Natsuto’s work is more focused and lively compared to the languid experience turned in by Fukada. Here’s my review.
Synopsis: Three college students, Sayaka (Haruna Hori), Yui (Juri Fukushima) and Yui’s best friend Momoko (Nanaho Otsuka), head to the seaside town of Shonan (in Natsuto’s home prefecture of Kanagawa) and stay in a large guest house which is where numerous romantic waifs and strays wash up. Being young and attractive, the three are the targets of interest from nearby guys. These include a weirdo film director (played by real-life auteur Edmund Yeo), a disgustingly selfish and disarmingly louche goofy guitarist named Akihiro (Shinsuke Kato) who tries to bed every girl in sight, a horny film professor (whose wife is played by Sugino in a cameo appearance) and Korean students Min Jun and the girl he is crushing on, Yona, who wants to visit colleges for her study abroad. More people show up and a lustful comedy of errors ensues. There are plenty of fish in the sea but poor Sayaka gets tangled up in various lines of lust cast out by the guys when she simply wants to reel in Yui, her best friend and someone whom she has been in love for quite a while.
メカニカル・テレパシー 「Mekanikaru Terepashi-」
Release Date: October 09th, 2020
Running Time: 76 mins.
Director: Akiko Igarashi
Writer: Akiko Igarashi (Screenplay),
Starring: Ryuichi Yoshida, Nanami Shirakawa, Yoshio Shin, Aoi Ibuki, Riku Tokimitsu, Ayaka Matsui, Yukina Aoyama,
Synopsis: An accident happens during an experiment involving a machine which visualises human hearts. Masaki goes to the laboratory to announce the official cancellation of the experiment, and is attracted to Aoi, the wife of the machine’s inventor, who has lost consciousness due to the accident. Masaki learns that the only way to reconnect Aoi and her husband’s hearts would be the success of the experiment.
Is the human heart identical with the real human? This sci-fi drama, based on an experimental short film by the director, depicts love and scepticism through the relationships between researchers who visualise human hearts. Actors from the CO2 Actor Scholarship Project play the main roles, including the lead Masaki portrayed by Ryuichi Yoshida, Aoi who is portrayed by Nanami Shirakawa, the inventor who is played by Yoshio Shin and Asumi, who feels for Masaki, who is played by IBUKI Aoi.
Release Date: August 08th, 2020
Duration: 100 mins.
Director: Shinji Imaoka
Writer: Shinji Imaoka (Script),
Starring: Aki Takeda, Hidetoshi Kawaya,
Pink film director Shinji Imaoka delivers a downbeat indie drama that has its roots in the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Written at the time of the disaster, he finished it in time for the 25th anniversary of the disaster. The result is a melancholy film that follows the travails of regular people left reeling from tragic caused by the earthquake.
Synopsis: The story starts on the day of the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. A couple, Ichiko (Aki Takeda) and her writer husband Tasuke (Hidetoshi Kawaya), are celebrating the birthday of their daughter Reiko but on that night, she dies in the earthquake. The couple, no longer connected by their daughter, drift apart over time and endure life’s ups and downs. Despite their distance, they can never quite break free due to them lingering over their loss…
行旅死亡人 「Kouryo Shibounin」
Release Date: September 01st, 2012
Duration: 112 mins.
Director: Kishu Izuchi
Writer: Kishu Izuchi (Script),
Starring: Yoko Chosokabe, Umi Todo, Reika Akuzawa, Satoshi Motomura, Gan Tanaka,
Synopsis from the Festival: What if an unknown stranger somewhere impersonates you and lives life?
24-year-old TAKIGAWA Misaki (TODO Umi) aspiring to be a non-fiction writer, receives a strange phone call saying TAKIGAWA Misaki is in a coma in a hospital. Learning that someone has posed as Misaki, she visits the hospital and finds an unexpected person.
She begins to discover the woman’s real name and the reason why she had to be someone else.
Nice to Meet You
適切な距離 「Tekisetsuna Kyori」
Release Date: September 01st, 2012
Duration: 92 mins.
Director: Takamasa Oe
Writer: Takamasa Oe (Script), Kaito Kikuchi (Original Story)
Starring: Haruka Uchimura, Hiromi Shinju, Riku Tokimitsu, Mayuko Sasaki, Masako Oe,
Synopsis from the Festival: The second feature by OE Takamasa, who won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes with “Drive My Car”, co-written by HAMAGUCHI Ryusuke. University student Yuji lives alone with his mother. He begins to keep a journal. One day, he finds his mother’s diary, in which she details her imaginary life with Yuji’s unborn little brother. “Nice to Meet You” looks into the verity of a real life hidden under a lie, by depicting an alienated mother and son trying to communicate through a fictional diary.
ひかりのおと 「Hikari no Oto」
Release Date: February 09th, 2013
Duration: 89 mins.
Director: Junichiro Yamasaki
Writer: Junichiro Yamasaki (Script),
Starring: Yoshitomo Fujihisa, Eri Mori, Takeshi Masago, Yoshiko Nakamoto, Junko Sato,
Juichiro Yamasaki, director of Sanchu Uprising: Voices at Dawn (2015) and Yamabuki (2022), which was exhibited at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival, made his feature-length debut with this work. Like all of his films, it was shot in his hometown.
Synopsis from the festival: Deep in the mountains of north Okayama Prefecture, a young farmer tries to make a new life for himself while dealing with the weight of family obligations. He wanted to make music in Tokyo but has returned to the small family farm that has been passed down for generations. The first feature-length film by writer/director YAMASAKI Juichiro, a farmer himself, reveals the tangled life of a young dairy farmer and his hopes for the future from the point of view of those who make their living from the earth.
種をまく人 「Tane o maku hito」
Running Time: 117 mins.
Release Date: 2016
Director: Yosuke Takeuchi
Writer: Yosuke Takeuchi (Screenplay)
Starring: Kentaro Kishi, Suzuno Takenaka, Tomomitsu Adachi, Arisa Nakajima, Ichika Takeuchi,
I had the pleasure of watching this as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I also met its director, Yosuke Takeuchi. It’s a fine film, one of the best I have seen in recent years. Its genesis comes from the personal life of the director and also the life of Vincent van Gogh and how the artist lived a humble and naive existence to the full despite the treatment he faced from society. That story is reflected in not just one of the main characters, the titular “Sower”, but also the people around him. Through their story, a wider one about the treatment of outsiders occurs. This is a remarkable drama that I have seen five times and I am impressed by it which is why I am highlighting it as part of this festival.
Synopsis: Mitsuo was one of those brave souls who answered the call for volunteers to clear out the debris left behind by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The strain of the task proved to be too much and he spent three years in psychiatric care. Upon his release, Mitsuo finds solace in reuniting with his brother and his nieces Chie and Itsuki. But a tragic accident soon disrupts the newly found happiness when the two girls are left in his care and Itsuki is killed. Though he had no direct involvement in the incident, Mitsuo is blamed and this causes him and the people around him to deal with the burden of guilt and the struggle for atonement.
Just to reiterate previous info, the physical portion of the festival will take place from in cinemas around Osaka from March 10 to 20 as it graces screens at the traditional venues Umeda Burg 7, Cine Libre Umeda, ABC Hall and the National Museum of Art, Osaka. The entire programme and the schedule is now online. You can read plot synopses (written by yours truly) and watch trailers for each of the films on the programme page.
Check out more details on the official festival website and check back with me as I will be covering the event!