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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.

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Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 (April 26th to May 4th)

The Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 runs from April 26th to May 4th and has a lot to offer audiences eager for the latest in Asian cinema. This year’s edition has a special on retrospective on Korean cinema entitled ‘100 Years Of Korean Cinema’, which has 23 films programmed, and organisers are also going to hand Hong Kong star Anthony Wong the Golden Mulberry Award for Outstanding Achievement. Two of his film, Wong’s debut My Name Ain’t Suzie (1985) and the recent Still Human (2018), will also be screened.

Indeed, there are a few films I’ve already seen as part of work in Osaka with The Crossing and Still Human being my absolute must-recommends. From Japan, there are nine films in total, a few from the festival circuit such as a collection of political dystopian tales, Ten Years Japan, and Melancholic, an acerbic workplace comedy involving onsen and contract killers.

On top of film screenings, there’s also the industry side of things and Focus Asia 2019, a section where 15 projects are mainlined for international co-productions by a group of judges, has selected two Japanese projects, the first an offshoot of Ten Years Japan, Plan 75, by Chie Hayakawa and produced by Eiko Mizuno-Gray, and the second looks totally new. The Convenience Store features the film critic Mark Schilling (Japan Times), producer Emi Ueyama (Wasted Eggs, At the Terrace) and director Satoshi Miki (Adrift in Tokyo).

That was an unwieldy paragraph. On to the trailers!

Here is what on offer:

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A Preview of of the Japanese Film Festival Ireland 2019

Ireland will get a slew of the latest cinematic delights from Japan when theJapanese Film Festival Ireland 2019 Image Japanese Film Festival Ireland gears up for its latest run. It all starts on April 6th and last until the 20th with screenings of a selection of films at venues in Dublin, Galway, Tipperary, Limerick, Cork, Sligo, Waterford and Dundalk.

There are many highlights, many of which have set screens ablaze at the likes of Japan Cuts 2018, three of the biggest titles to get a release in 2019 from Third Windows Films and the latest anime to be licensed Anime Limited. There is also a slew of indie films, only a couple of which have been screened at something like the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2019.

As is always the case, whether new or old, whether confirmed for a home format release or not, seeing these films on the big screen and sharing it with others is an exciting proposition and I hope you can find something that sparks your imagination.

Here are the films:

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Korea Independent Animation Festival 2019 in Japan

For fans of Asian animation in the English-speaking world, Korea is a bit of an unknown quantity. Despite a few brave bloggers trying to keep track of various titles that get released, actually getting to see the films is pretty hard to do. So, if you are interested in Korean animation and are in Japan, this event will be perfect for you.

Korean Independent Animation Festival 2019 Image

With the onset of Spring, cherry blossom petals will shower the streets whilst on cinema screens will be the delightful sight of Korean animation. Throughout April, at three different locations, the Korea Independent Animation Film Festival will take place.

Osaka goes first from April 06th to the 10th at the Planet +1 cinema, which is located in the bohemian neighbourhood of Nakazakicho near Umeda,

Tokyo gets it from April 19th to the 21st at the Uplink Theatre in trendy Shibuya,

Nagoya is a bit later from July 06th to the 07th at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, near Sakae station.

A collection of 29 films will be screened and there will be talks over the course of the festival. The films consist of two programmes dedicated to Korean animated shorts, a programme of shorts from creators based in Asia, and a feature film. These are mainly award films of “Indie-AniFest2018”, which took place in Seoul, and there’s a real variety to the techniques used in animation from stop-motion to 2D in various artistic styles, 3D, CG and even rotoscoping. Each of the shorts programmes and the feature clocks in at around an hour, making this an easily digestible series of screenings. Furthermore, the Osaka run has special guests and a special programme dedicated to the Kansai region – Kansai short program (62 minutes / 8 films) “Kansai Resident! Animator Special Feature”!

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The Eternity Between Seconds Dir: Alec Figuracion (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

The Eternity Between Seconds    The Eternity Between Seconds Alec Figuracion (2018) Film Poster

Running Time: 83 mins.

Release Date: 2018

Director: Alec Figuracion

Writer: Alec Figuracion (Screenplay)

Starring: Yeng Constanino, TJ Trinidad,

Website IMDB

There is something about liminal spaces such as airports which allows the mind to wander loose from the moorings that reality keeps us grounded with. While there, free from commitments to family or work, it is possible to drift in a sea of strangers as we travel from one location to the next which is when we reassume responsibility. We can take a break from ourselves and be open, not just to a change in place but also thinking. This is an idea explored realistically and relatably in The Eternity Between Seconds, a Filipino film where two weary souls meet and offer respite from life’s worries.

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Sisterhood シスターフッド Dir: Takashi Nishihara (2018) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Sisterhood    Sisterhood Film Poster

シスターフッド  Shisuta-fuddo

Running Time: 87 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Takashi Nishihara

Writer: Takashi Nishihara (Screenplay),

Starring: BOMI, Manami Usamaru, Nina Endo, Ryo Iwase, Mika Akizuki

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if07.html

The only constant in life is change and we are living through massive changes, not least with regard to the battle for gender equality which has been marked most recently by the #MeToo movement which has spread from America and gained traction in some of the most conservative of societies around the world. Channelling some of the momentum experienced in Japan is Takashi Nishihara, writer and director of Sisterhood. He graduated from the Department of Arts and Film at Waseda University with a focus on documentary and has created fiction films – Blue Ray (2011) and the lesbian love drama Starting Over (2014) – as well as documentaries – About My Freedom (2016) and Queer Asia, a series for GagaOOLala, Asia’s first LGBTQ streaming service. With Sisterhood, he mixes fact and fiction in a film that shows some of the voices asking for change to mainstream of Japanese society.

To capture the shifts going on in gender relations in Japan, Nishihara blurs the bounds between fiction and reality by merging footage from a documentary he has been shooting over the last few years and casting real life actors and models such as Nina Endo and Mika Akizuki (the two leads from Starting Over), SUMIRE and Manami Usamaru, as well as the musician BOMI, and making them play fictional variations of themselves. Each gives a portrayal of a young woman going about their lives. We see them modelling, studying, performing concerts, each desiring to be treated fairly as they chase their dreams and each question their role in society. These questions emerge thanks to a link character, a middle-aged male Tokyo-based documentary film director named Ikeda, played by Ryo Iwase, who interviews people for a documentary about feminism.

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RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Dir: Takuji Suzuki (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram  RANDEN The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram Film Poster

嵐電 Randen

Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: May 24th, 2019

Director:  Takuji Suzuki

Writer: Takuji Suzuki, Hiroshi Asari, (Screenplay),

Starring: Arata Iura, Ayaka Onishi, Tamaki Kubose, Satoko Abe, Kenta Ishida, Hiroto Kanai,

Website

Opening the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 is the world premiere of RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram, a love-letter to the local tram that runs in the west of Kyoto City that links famous sites such as scenic Arashiyama to the ancient Koryu-ji temple and the exciting Toei Kyoto Studio Park where jidaigeki have been made over the centuries. It is beloved by many who ride it and the film’s story depicts the intersecting lives of three different couples whose love resonates throughout a narrative as fate, by way of the trams, deliberately bring people together.

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Nunchaku and Soul Dir: Akiyoshi Koba (2019) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Nunchaku and Soul

ヌンチャクソウル  Nunchaku Souru

Running Time: 25 mins.

Release Date: 2019

Director: Akiyoshi Koba

Writer: Akiyoshi Koba (Screenplay),

Starring: Masahiro Kuroki, Atsushi Takahashi, Jun Bay, Anju Kurosu, Yun Hayama, Michiko Hayashi, Shinichiro Osawa,

Website IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/if03.html

Director Akiyoshi Koba is a part-time lecturer at Nagaoka Zokei University and an indie filmmaker whose works feature a mixture of everyday settings dusted with a little sci-fi and tweaked with comedy. Titles include, Slippers and  a Midsummer Moon (2015) where two sisters travel between parallel worlds to find their missing father, the tokusatsu parody short Psychics Z (2016), and Tsumugi’s Radio (2017), a gentle comedy about mental illness and mistimed romance told with a lot of flashbacks. In each of the films, mundane locations are used for out of the ordinary events. This is probably driven by budget constraints but it has resulted in an oeuvre which celebrates the possibility of fun and DIY filmmaking in small-town Japan. Nunchaku and Soul is probably Koba’s most amusing work to date and continues in this vein.

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A Preview of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 (March 08th – March 17th)

The Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 (OAFF) is back for its 14th edition and it promises a wealth of cinematic experiences from across Asia with a healthy selection of local indies programmed alongside international award-winners, auteur works, modern classics and genre cinema. I’m working at the festival again so I’ve got a lot of writing to do and I originally wrote this for V-Cinema to introduce the films.

The festival runs at various locations in the city from March 08th through to March 17th and organisers have carefully created a programme consisting of 51 films from 17 regions including 10 world and 9 international premiere films. Over half the titles will be screened in Japan for the first time and there will be filmmakers travelling from across the world to join film fans and take part in Q&A sessions to give more information about their works.

Everything has been organised across multiple programmes including the Competition section as well as sections dedicated to Hong Kong and Taiwan and there is also the prestigious Osaka Asia Star Award which is given to a significant figure from the Japanese or Asian film industry and presented at an award ceremony which is followed by an in-depth talk event.

What’s on offer?

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Shinya Tsukamoto will receive Nippon Honor Award at the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival

Shinya TsukamotoShinya Tsukamoto will receive the NIPPON HONOR AWARD at the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (May 28th – June 02nd). Shinya Tsukamoto tweeted this news earlier in the month and it has been confirmed by a press release sent out on Tuesday this week. This is the fifth time the award has been bestowed on someone and it goes to a person who has made outstanding contributions to Japanese cinema. I can’t think of a better person at the moment!

Fans of Japanese films who have followed this blog for a while will know I am a big fan of the actor and director, editor and cinematographer. He was one of the first directors I went and wrote a biography for and reviewed a whole bunch of his films (my favourite being Vital). In fact, I met him at the Raindance Independent Film Festival a few years back and had my picture taken with him just before a screening of Fires on the Plain!

Anyway, according to the press release:

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