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Japanese Films at the Locarno Film Festival 2020 (05th-15th August)

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The Locarno Film Festival runs from August 05th to the 15th and they have announced their selection of films. Like last year there are two Japanese films (well, one’s a US-Japan co-production and the other’s a France-Japan co-production) but these are both shorts and were subjects of crowdfunding campaigns. Apparently, you can watch the films online when the festival goes live. Here they are!

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A Preview of Japan Cuts 2020 (July 17th – 30th)

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From July 17th – 30th, Japan Cuts will launch for its 2020 edition which is going to be an entirely online experience. There are 30 features and 12 shorts that will be shown across 14 days with filmmaker video introductions, live virtual Q&As and panel discussions for audiences across the entire United States (yes, this fest is geo-locked, much like the upcoming Fantasia festival).

The selection is, as ever, good as it covers indies and mainstreamers, features and shorts, anime and live-action and all covering a diverse array of subjects. I’ve covered all of these in other festival posts and seen quite a few and will be plugging my own reviews and interviews in this highlight post which has been split up into the following sections, all of which, I hope will help people decide what they want to see:

 Opening Film | Centrepiece Presentation | Animation |Feature Films | Shorts | Documentaries | Tora-san

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Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2020

The Udine Far East Film Festival takes place at the end of the month and, just like Nippon Connection, it is totally digital and people around the world will be able to view some of the films that have been programmed.

Normally, the festival takes place in Udine in the north of Italy, but, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers made the decision to make this year’s edition totally online. The festival runs from June 26-July 4 and the movies will be shown via the streaming services mymovies.it.

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Nippon Connection 2020: Documentaries

This post is an offshoot from the earlier this week and it focuses on all of the documentaries that will be screened. Check out each description to see if each film is available for worldwide screening because quite a few of these are.

Nippon Docs

This section brings together a really diverse range of subjects and themes like art and culture, feminism, workplace rights, mental health, refugees fighting for recognition and a man in a campervan trying to forget a failed love. There are three shorts and 11 features. Book-Paper-Scissors and An Ant Strikes Back are polar opposites in content and ones I want to see. Actually, I want to see all of these films!!!

There are a lot of great films on offer and many of them are available for global audiences to stream. Here are details on the features:

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A Preview of Nippon Connection 2020: Nippon Visions

 

The 20th Nippon Connection will take place from June 09th to the 14th and the organisers will take the event online for a Virtual Anniversary Edition. Over the course of six days, Nippon Connection Online will play a total of 70 feature-length and short films from a variety of genres to give a good overview of the trends in Japanese cinema. 

The films will each be available to view via the video on demand platform Vimeo in exchange for a small fee. The period of availability lasts for a full 24 hours from the moment they are purchased. They will all be available during the duration of the festival, although some titles will be region-locked, something I will detail below. There will also be the chance to get in contact with the filmmakers behind the titles since they will be in contact with the audience via video messages, discussions and live broadcasts. There will also be a variety of online events, including workshops, lectures, performances, and concerts and a virtual marketplace which will present a wide range of offers related to Japan.

Many of these films will be available for audiences to watch around the world.

I have a highlight post which gives an overview of the festival and a post focusing on the classics and the mainstream releases. This preview covers the indie films.

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A Preview of Nippon Connection 2020 – Highlights

Despite the situation with Covid-19, one of the world’s biggest events dedicated to Japanese films is going to launch next week Tuesday. We Are talking about…

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Nippon Connection will take place from June 09th to the 14th and the organisers will take the event online for a Virtual Anniversary Edition to celebrate 20 years of screening films. Over the course of six days, Nippon Connection Online will play a total of 70 feature-length and short films from a variety of genres to give a good overview of the trends in Japanese cinema. One of the main thrusts of the festival is presenting a glimpse of new perspectives on women in Japan – Female Futures? – New Visions of Women in Japan – which consists of a slate of dramas and documentaries made by women or featuring women in lead roles. The subjects range in age and political motivations and all look absolutely fascinating.

On to the nitty-gritty!

The films will each be available to view via the video on demand platform Vimeo in exchange for a small fee. The period of availability lasts for a full 24 hours from the moment they are purchased. The films will all be available to purchase during the duration of the festival, although some titles will be region-locked, something I will highlight with the films below. I have had a look since everything is already set up and waiting for the screening date and it looks easy to navigate.

As well as watching films, there will also be the chance to get in contact with the filmmakers behind the titles since they will be in contact with the audience via video messages, discussions and live broadcasts. There will also be a variety of online events, including workshops, lectures, performances, and concerts and a virtual marketplace which will present a wide range of offers related to Japan.

All of the films are special in some way but there is so much to cover. Here are some highlights. I will provide follow-up articles to cover other titles in depth. Click on the titles to be taken to the corresponding Nippon Connection page which has details on dates and times.

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Japanese Films at the We Are One Global Film Festival

Due to COVID-19, film festivals around the world have had to postpone or cancel events. Then, in April, Tribeca and YouTube announced they were teaming up for a 10-day online festival called We Are One and working together with other festivals to create a digital film festival.

We Are One Film Festival Image

The festival will stream a selection of films online on YouTube for FREE from May 29th to June 07th. There will be 31 features and 72 shorts over 10 days, the titles have been co-curated by over 20 film festivals from across the world, including Annecy, Cannes, London, Venice, Sundance, Berlin, Locarno, Toronto and Tokyo. Viewers can also enjoy virtual talks with directors.

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Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2020

This year’s edition of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival is the 60 anniversary of the fest and it takes place from June 15th to the 30th and, due to the COVID-19 situation, it’s a totally online edition. Unlike last year’s event, which was jam-packed with films, there are about four Japanese animated films and some international co-productions on the roster. The festival welcomes back Masaaki Yuasa, who has directed a Netflix show, and there are some newbie directors.

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…

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Interview with “The Modern Lovers” Director Atsuro Shimoyashiro at the Osaka Asian Film Film Festival 2020

Atsuro Shimoyashiro was at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival with The Modern Lovers, a sexually explicit story about two former lovers reuniting, raking over their past relationship and realizing their regrets. His path to the festival is an interesting example of an indie film warrior. After dropping out of college, Shimoyashiro studied at the Film School of Tokyo and has had an interesting career working in music and indie movies. He directed films like Walk in the Room (2016), which was selected for TAMA NEW WAVE and the Kanazawa Film Festival 2017, and Voyage Garden (2018), which was selected for O!!DO Short Film Festival. He has also produced music for films, including two by Shinji Imaoka, Long Goodbye: Private Detective Kurinosuke Furui (2017) and Reiko and the Dolphin (2019).

The Modern Lovers is something else. A hip movie with an atmosphere choked with longing, lust and a little bitterness. Due to the nudity involved and its brief story, it brings to mind the pink films of the Roman Porno genre despite being an indie drama. There seems to be some creative connection since legendary pink film director Shinji Imaoka makes a brief appearance in a bar scene and Shimoyashiro has collaborated with him. It may be tempting to see Shimoyashiro as a new generation of pink film director but he is firmly on the indie side of things, as he explained when he sat down to talk about The Modern Lovers and his inspirations. This interview was conducted with the help of translators Keiko Matsushita and Takako Pocklington.

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