Featured

A Preview of Japan Cuts 2019 (JULY 19–28)

Japan Cuts 2019 is back with its annual showcase of the latest in Japanese films carefully curated by its team of programmers. It is due to kick off in New York in a month’s time and runs from JULY 19–28. The selection looks good and there’s a handy trailer to build up anticipation by revealing a glimpse of all the films on offer!

There is a distinctly youthful and fresh feeling to the roster of directors and writers as well as the stories they tell. Lots of directors are, or were, making their debuts after cutting their teeth in various production roles or they are at the indie end of the spectrum and under-exposed on the festival circuit. Then there is a lot of youth-oriented stories with a lot of coming-of-age tales. That’s not to say that the older generations are forgotten as a documentary and some legendary filmmakers are also on board with Shinya Tsukamoto in New York to show Bullet Ballet as well as his latest film Killing and there is also a doc called I Go Gaga, My Dear about an elderly couple which is getting a lot of play at different fests so that’s a good sign. I’ve seen quite a few of these films, mostly at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival, and so I’ll put links to my reviews if you want to read them.

Some of these films are going to be accompanied by directors and actors and a full list plus bios can be found here. This year’s recipient of the CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film is Shinya Tsukamoto, one of the first directors I went and wrote a biography for and reviewed a whole bunch of his films (my favourite being Vital). He is just one of many guests so please check the official website to find out more.

All information comes from old trailer posts and the JAPAN CUTS website.

Here is what has been programmed!

Continue reading “A Preview of Japan Cuts 2019 (JULY 19–28)”

Featured

Whole Dir: Bilal Kawazoe (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Whole

Duration: 45 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Bilal Kawazoe

Writer: Usman Kawazoe (Screenplay),

Starring: Usman Kawazoe, Aoi Ibuki, Kai Hoshino Sandy,

Website IMDB   OAFF

This review was first published on V-Cinema on March 14th

In recent years, the rise of mixed-race Japanese has become a hot topic with “hafu”, a word which is taken from the English word “half”, becoming more visible thanks to sports and entertainment personalities like tennis champ Naomi Osaka and 2015’s Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto. Even if Japan is pretty ethnically mixed, hafu are visibly different and are often presented as glamorous and fashionable by advertising execs. This ignores the reality of discrimination and ostracisation they face, something which Bilal Kawazoe’s film, WHOLE examines as one of the few recent Japanese efforts to look at this issues surrounding being biracial in a homogeneous society.

Continue reading “Whole Dir: Bilal Kawazoe (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More

The Japan Foundation in London have set up their annual Summer Explorers films season with a fun build-up of titles that feature titles from masterful directors both old – Takeshi Kitano and Seijun Suzuki – and new – Masaaki Yuasa. There is even a fun indie film thrown in. It’s really diverse and totally free! All you need to do is book your place!

Here’s some hype and information from the Japan Foundation:

“From wacky time-travel to ancient Rome (Thermae Romae) and a musical extravaganza set in feudal Japan (Princess Raccoon), to a slapstick twist on the film noir genre of the 60’s (Murder Un-Incorporated) – our annual Pre-Summer Explorers season aims to make you shake and cry with laughter while presenting the multi-faceted and unique sense of humour in Japanese cinema!”

Dates: 26 June 2019 – 30 June 2019
Venues:
Screen 1, The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH London

and

Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY London

See the Japan Foundation website for more information or click on the links below.

What are the films?

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More”

Featured

Japanese Films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

The Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place between 19th and 30th June. There are around 121 new features from 42 countries across the globe. Japan makes up a tiny fraction, perhaps the smallest. It could be that I have missed titles in the line-up but I did scour the catalogue. The films do look good, though.

Here they are:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019

annecy_home_1920x470px

“If I had to name one country with a true culture of animation, it would definitely be Japan.”

This quote was made by French director Georges Lacroix in 1999, the year when the Annecy Festival celebrated Japanese animation for the very first time. Since then, the fest has been packed with Japanese animation, many of which have often taken awards, and now, twenty years later, Annecy celebrates Japan again by packing in classics and new titles and giving space for much of the talent working today to shine.

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is back from June 10th to the 15th and it’s packed with anime feature films, TV anime, and conferences because the organisers have chosen this year to celebrate 100 years of Japanese animated films (1917 – 2017). This celebration spans classic shorts never before seen outside of Japan to forthcoming works that are being pitched to producers and distributors around the world. Netflix has a presence here thanks to their positive contribution to anime and the student graduation works look equally enticing. With WWII propaganda films, adaptations of classic western novels, animated documentaries, 80s sci-fi, and more going to be screened, festival-goers are in for an exceptional and exciting collection of films that shows what Japan can do.

As per usual, titles contain links to the festival and sources used for information range from the festival site itself to My Anime List (MAL) and Anime News Network (ANN). Let’s start with…

Continue reading “Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019”

Featured

A Preview of Nippon Connection 2019

Nippon Connection Logo

Nippon Connection returns to the German city of Frankfurt from 28th May to 2nd June and the organisers have programmed around 100 feature and short films as well as many cultural activities. It is a veritable feast of things to do and see and eat so I’m going to list things and offer some highlights, films that might be to find outside of the festival. Tickets are already on sale so, without further ado, here are the films on offer.

Continue reading “A Preview of Nippon Connection 2019”

Featured

World Animation Theater 2019: 13 Animated Documentary Films by Female Directors

Documentaries and animation meet in a special event called World Animation Theater (WAT2019).

13 animated documentary films by female directors from Japan, Korea and Sweden will be screened in a number of venues across Japan, starting in Tokyo before heading west throughout 2019/20. The stories cover a wide range of experiences from the deeply personal to global politics.

Continue reading “World Animation Theater 2019: 13 Animated Documentary Films by Female Directors”

Featured

Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2019

Cannes Film Festival 2019 Poster

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival will run from May 14th until the 25th and themain programme was announced a couple of weeks ago. There are around 47 premieres at the fest with familiar names like Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, Ghost Dog), Ken Loach (Kes) and Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In) walking on the Croisette along with a slight uptick in female directors – Jessica Hausner and Mati Diop are the names to watch – and there is a decent Asian contingent.

Prominent names for me are South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho, a masterful director with titles like Mother, Memories of Murder and The Host in his filmography. He is at Cannes with Parasite, which has a family tragi-comedy unfold as one “parasitic” family gets involved with a well-to-do one for nefarious reasons. The trailer looks brilliant. Then there is China’s Diao Yinan who made the electric neo-noir Black Coal, Thin Ice which won the Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. He has a story of a biker and a desperate woman trying to escape their situations. What of Japan? Nothing much that can secure a Palm d’Or.

Hirokazu Koreeda Cannes 2018 Shoplifters Palme d'or
(Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Following his success at last year’s Cannes, it looks like Hirokazu Kore-eda won’t be returning because his latest film, the France-set film The Truth won’t be ready in time. This is Kore-eda’s first film set outside Japan and it stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke and Ludivine Sagnier. Kiyoshi Kurosawa does have a film due for release this year but it doesn’t look like it will be shown at Cannes. Thankfully, there is still a Japanese presence at the festival and it comes from Takashi Miike and a classic!

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Afternoon Breezes 風たちの午後 デジタルリマスター版 Dir: Hitoshi Yazaki (1980) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Afternoon Breezes    Afternoon Breezes Film Poster

風たちの午後 デジタルリマスター版 Kazetachi no nengo Digitaru rimasuta-

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: December 11th, 1980

Director:  Hitoshi Yazaki

Writer: Shunichi Nagasaki, Hitoshi Yazaki (Screenplay),

Starring: Naomi Ito, Setsuko Aya,

Website IMDB  OAFF

People who attended Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 (OAFF) had the chance to see the latest work of Hitoshi Yazaki, Still Life of Memories. It seems Osaka has become a favourite place for the man because he attended OAFF 2019 with Afternoon Breezes. It has been 40 years since it was released and its original 16 mm print has been given a digital remaster after being subject to a crowdfunding campaign. The film is a somewhat tragic tale of a one-sided lesbian romance. Due to its style and LGBT subject-matter, it broke boundaries because it was one of the first openly gay-themed films in Japan and it put Yazaki on the map and earned him comparisons with important directors from avante-garde cinema movements of the 60s and 70s like Chantal Akerman. In its black-and-white look and with its central protagonist who is disconnected from reality, it is sort of like Akerman’s Saute ma ville (1968) if you’ll allow the glib comparison

Continue reading “Afternoon Breezes 風たちの午後 デジタルリマスター版 Dir: Hitoshi Yazaki (1980) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”

Featured

Maggie 메기 Dir: Yi Ok-seop (2018) South Korea Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Maggie   

메기

Running Time: 88 mins.

Release Date: October 2018

Director: Yi Ok-seop

Writer: Yi Ok-seop, Koo Kyo-hwan (Screenplay),

Starring: Lee Ju-young, Moon So-ri, Koo Kyo-hwan, Lee Ju-yeong, Mun So-ri, Koo Gyo-Hwan, Myeong Gye-nam, Kim Kkobbi Flowerain,

IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/c09.html

Winner of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019’s Grand Prix (Best Picture Award) as well as Busan International Film Festival 2018’s CGV Art House Award and Citizens’ Critic Award, Maggie heralds a new directing talent in Yi Ok-Seop, someone who brings a lively verve to her examination of how doubt can infect everything and how such an infection should be cured by seeking the truth. It’s a large topic tackled with a disparate range of elements from a talking catfish to mysterious seismic activities and audiences will be forgiven for having doubts of their own as to how everything links up and if it will be satisfying but it works in the end.

Continue reading “Maggie 메기 Dir: Yi Ok-seop (2018) South Korea Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”