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The Day of Destruction 破壊の日 (2020) Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda

The Day of Destruction    The Day of Destruction Film Poster

破壊の日Hakai no Hi

Release Date: July 24th, 2020

Duration: 57 mins.

Director: Toshiaki Toyoda

Writer: Toshiaki Toyoda (Script),

Starring: Kiyohiko Shibukawa, MahiToThePeople (of the band GEZAN in his debut film role), Issey Ogata, Yosuke Kubozuka, Ryuhei Matsuda, Itsuki Nagasawa, Shima Onishi, Misa Wada,

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Released on July 24th, what would have been the opening day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, The Day of Destruction would have been a slice of counter-programming that rages against the ills of society while it basked in the aura of Olympic spectacle. Even in the absence of the games, the film still retains its power as a unique “state of the nation” address thanks to its director compiling issues into a unique story.

Toshiaki Toyoda has long made films about people on the fringes and struggling to find their way, criticising the state and its treatment of citizens. He himself has been subject to violations of his rights when he was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and held without charge. It later turned out to be a family heirloom from World War II but the police turned it into a media spectacle. Japan continues to be rocked by numerous government corruption scandals, incompetent handling of Covid-19, and the silencing of political dissent by the increasingly fascistic LDP. It must feel that the country is on the highway to disaster and this film picks up on that sense of impending doom.

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Kinta and Ginji 金太と銀次 Dir: Takuya Dairiki, Takashi Miura (2020)

Kinta and Ginji    Kinta and Ginji Film Poster

金太と銀次 Kinta to Ginji

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 84 mins.

Director: Takuya Dairiki, Takashi Miura

Writer: Takuya Dairiki, Takashi Miura (Script),

Starring: Takuya Dairiki, Takashi Miura

“No man is a failure who has friends”

Welcome to the friendship between Kinta and Ginji, the titular duo of an indie film written, edited, scored, performed, and co-directed by Takuya Dairiki and Takashi Miura. Friends since childhood, for their 12th film together these native sons of Osaka have concocted a warmhearted and whimsical experience that you probably won’t see outside of a film festival but it bears the charms of a well-worn friendship.

Kinta & Ginji follows the daily lives of Kinta, a raccoon who wears a red cap, and Ginji, a boxy robot with a shiny silver sheen. They are played by the directors, in their simple self-made costumes, and they are portrayed living in an unremarkable forest where they spend their time chatting with the comedic patter of Kansai dialect which we hear in winding conversations as the two wend their way through the woods. This wryly funny buddy movie doesn’t really have any structure to it other than most scenes have circular conversations and some conversations are iterative as they get circled back to later during the friend’s perambulations.

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It Feels So Good 火口のふたり (2019) Dir: Haruhiko Arai

It Feels So Good  Kakou no Futari Film Poster

火口のふたりKakou no Futari

Release Date: August 23rd, 2019

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Haruhiko Arai

Writer: Haruhiko Arai (Script), Kazufumi Shiraishi (Novel),

Starring: Tasuku Emoto, Kumi Takiuchi,

Website   IMDB

The story is simple. Two 30-something friends meet in Akita on the eve of one’s wedding and they rekindle the flames of passion they shared for each other when they were younger. An agreed one night stand becomes five nights of sex and, in the moments between intercourse, they confess their less than stellar present lives and rake over their history to find some way to face an uncertain future.

It Feels So Good is the third film from veteran writer Haruhiko Arai. His last one was a rather staid drama called This Country’s Sky (2015) but he got his start writing Roman Porno titles like Woman with Red Hair (1979). He worked with Ryuichi Hiroki and adapted books for films in Vibrator (2003) and It’s Only Talk (2005). He adapts another book, this one by Kazufumi Shiraishi, but, like his work with Hiroki, he brings about another film full of complex adults having adult relationships.  

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Sacrifice サクリファイス Dir: Taku Tsuboi (2019)

Sacrifice  Sacrifice Film Poster

サクリファイス  Sakurifaisu

Release Date: March 06th, 2020

Duration: 76 mins.

Director: TakTsuboi

Writer: Taku Tsuboi (Screenplay)

Starring: Yuzu Aoki, Michiko Gomi, Miki Handa, Kosuke Fujita, Yasuyuki Sakurai, Hatsune Yazaki, Hana Shimomura, Chieko Misaka,

Website

Following working with with Makoto Shinozaki on 3.11 psychology/premonition drama Sharing and Kiyoshi Kurosawa on haunting ghost story Journey to the Shore, Taku Tsuboi made his directorial debut with Sacrifice as part of his work at Rikkyo University. He draws upon the aforementioned films and uses a murder mystery narrative mixed with a doomsday cult context to make an interesting low-key thriller that is heavy on contemplation as three teens ponder their place in the world while dark forces swirl on the edge of their reality.

We are first introduced to Midori (Michiko Gomi), a young woman who once belonged to a cult named Shio no kai (Golden Wave) when she was a child. She predicted the Great East Japan Earthquake while she was a member but escaped their clutches and is now a university student keeping a low profile lest the cult’s followers find and kidnap her for her much coveted powers of premonition. However, when a serial cat killer near the campus graduates to offing a student, Midori is reluctantly drawn to the case. Already investigating is a pretty, and pretty deceitful, student named Toko (Miki Handa) who seeks to enliven her dull reality by toying with the person she suspects is the culprit, her seemingly affable classmate Okita (Yuzu Aoki) who might be hiding a dark side behind his nice smile. All the while, graduation looms and the violence of the adult world and natural disasters presses upon the three.

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Kontora コントラ Dir: Anshul Chauhan「Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020」

Kontora   

コントラKontora

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 145 mins.

Director: Anshul Chauhan

Writer: Anshul Chauhan (Script) 

Starring: Wan Marui, Seira Kojima, Hidemasa Mase, Takuzo Shimizu, Taichi Yamada, 

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A lonely teenage girl enduring adolescent turmoil amidst a fractured family’s feud, finds the arrival of a mysterious mute man in her small town allows her to communicate with others. This is the story for Anshul Chauhan’s sophomore feature following his woman-on-the-verge-of-a-breakdown indie drama Bad Poetry Tokyo (2017). Kontora has different atmospherics thanks to its look, raw performance of its lead actress, its generation-spanning story and its touch of the supernatural, so that this film stands distinct from what is normally churned out in Japan in its depiction of contemporary girlhood.

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Bleached Bones Avenue 白骨街道 Dir: Akio Fujimoto [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Bleached Bones Avenue

白骨街道Hakkotsu kaidō

Release Date: 2020

Duration: 16 mins.

Director: Akio Fujimoto

Writer: N/A

Starring: Pu paul pau, Lang Za Khup

OAFF

Screened at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020, Bleached Bones Avenue is the latest title from director Akio Fujimoto and, on the face of it, this short is a curious follow-up film to his previous work, the family drama Passage of Life (2017), which was shown at the festival back in 2018. However, it continues to examine the human links between Japan and Myanmar in its own unique way.

Fujimoto’s latest film takes place in Myanmar’s Chin state and observes the work of a team from the Zomi tribe who recover the remains of Japanese soldiers who died during the battle of Imphal. We watch as these men, each clad in simple tracksuits, hoodies and t-shirts, prepare for their work then travel by SUV to some remote area. A stream of sequences flow by where the action consists of the team traversing steep mountains, dense with trees, where they dig with simple tools. The only sounds are of bird cries, the voices the men and the tools they use as they gouge out chunks of earth in the hope of bones surfacing from the past. Although the environment looks as if it has remained untouched by human hands, the scars of war are gradually unearthed. This is most potently evidenced in the memories of wartime atrocities passed on from older members of the team to the younger ones and the wreckage of a tank which forms the focal point of a valley. As with the digging, human connections resurface from the river of time and the natural landscape.

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Hammock Dir: Kentaro Kishi (2018) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Hammock

Release Date: 2018

Duration: 30 mins.

Director: Kentaro Kishi

Writer: Kentaro Kishi (Script), 

Starring: Kanae Kishi, Naoko Ema, Kaworu Kishi, Philippe Aymard, Hugo Minaki,

OAFF Website

Kentaro Kishi is a multi-hyphenate talent who works as a writer, director, cinematographer and actor and his efforts stretch across genres, from splatter movies like Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl (2008) to indie dramas The Sower (2016), Noise and Passage of Life (2017). As a director, his credits include Record Future (2011) and Hammock (2018), the latter of which played at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 where it won the Housen Short Film Award. Here, Kishi takes on many roles and recruits his family to create an intimate 30-minute short drawing on the different perceptions in their relationship to examine how the act of looking can reinforce the connections between people.

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Reiko and the Dolphin れいこいるか Director: Shinji Imaoka (2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Reiko and the Dolphin    Reiko and the Dolphin Film Poster

れいこいるか「Reiko iruka

Release Date: August 08th, 2020

Duration: 92 mins.

Director: Shinji Imaoka

Writer: Shinji Imaoka (Script),

Starring: Aki Takeda, Hidetoshi Kawaya,

OAFF   Website

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, Imaoka had just made his debut as a film director and wanted to capture the atmosphere and emotions of the situation but no production company would provide backing. It wasn’t until 2016 when Imaoka received funding from one of his fans that he could initiate the project. He began shooting his script in January 2017, finishing 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.

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Videophobia Dir: Daisuke Miyazaki [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Videophobia    Videophobia Film Poster

Release Date: August, 2019 (Japan)

Duration: 88 mins.

Director: Daisuke Miyazaki

Writer: Daisuke Miyazaki, Naoto Akiyama (Script),

Starring: Tomona Hirota, Shugo Oshinari, Sumire Ashina, Masahiro Umeda, Sahel Rosa,

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There are few filmmakers capturing the zeitgeist of youth culture like Daisuke Miyazaki. His characters, often smartphone-wielding young women, make their way through a chaotic world with what little resources have been given to them by society. This scarcity of support engendered a spirit of defiance in Yamato (California) (2016) and an openness for change in Tourism (2018) which helped the protagonists of those films define their own identity. VIDEOPHOBIA is Miyazaki’s darkest work yet, one that shows the shadowy side of technology as revealed through online pornography.

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Woman of the Photographs 写真の女 Dir: Takeshi Kushida (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Woman of the Photographs    Woman of the Photographs Film Poster

写真の女Shashin no Onna

Release Date: June 27th, 2020

Duration: 89 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kushida

Writer: Takeshi Kushida (Script),

Starring: Hideki Nagai, Itsuki Otaki, Toshiaki Inomata, Toki Koinuma, Takaaki Kikuchi, Keiko Katsukura, Ryo Tsuchida,

OAFF Website

Writer/director Takeshi Kushida makes his feature debut with Woman of the Photographs, a story where a middle-aged photographer living a carefully controlled existence finds everything disrupted by the intrusion of a vivacious model whose presence triggers change. At 90 minutes, the film flies by but has depth as it asks questions about how people get mired in the past and confused over how to perceive themselves. With wit, drama and some special effects, the film goes beyond merely being topical and an “opposites attract” movie and becomes an absorbing drama about neuroses and love.

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