Genkina hito’s Top 25 Films of the Decade

My WordPress blog birthday was December 20th and it has been a decade since I first started writing reviews and news articles here about what interests me.

Cure Yakusho Stares at City

It started with book reviews like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse and big screen Hollywood fare such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. It shifted to American indies like Stake Land and 2 Days in New York with some European and central/South American films like Submarine, Certified Copy, I Am Love and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before I transitioned quickly into Asian cinema, long a passion of mine from childhood, and I took to covering the latest UK releases and festival news for Asian movies and writing about my favourite filmmakers like Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto. My taste has changed from horror and action to more contemplative and experimental works but my passion for cinema burns bright and for good reason.

Through ten years of writing on this blog I have made friends and watched lots of great films. Indeed, I’ve covered a quite a range of titles and, as the years progressed, actually got involved with film culture through writing for magazines and other websites, doing festival press work at the likes of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival as well as doing plenty of writing like interviews at UK festivals like Raindance, Terracotta and the London Film Festival. It has almost always been fun and I’ve even had the chance to live and travel in Japan. I can honestly say this blog has been amazing for me by helping me make friends and find my voice in this world.

So, thanks to film and writing about it, I’ve had a fun time. Indeed, sometimes the process of writing about films has been just as much fun as the viewing experience and now I want to highlight my fifteen favourite films to watch and also write about.

Strap yourself in and turn on some music for the ramblings of a film fan:

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Genkina hito’s Top Ten Films of 2019 and He Says Goodbye to a Tumultuous Year

Welcome to my penultimate post of 2019

Miss Hokusai Image 1

This is a melange of things including my New Year’s Resolution and my top ten films of 2019 rolled into one.

We’re about to start a new decade and I think we all managed to hold on to our collective sanity having lived through an era of austerity, unprecedented corporate greed and malfeasance and political extremism with fascism and chauvinist/supremacist politics back in vogue. Of course, we’ve been here before many times in the past such as the 30s and 50s so we can beat this. All it takes is organising, holding officials, business and media to account and protecting our democratic institutions.

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A Silent Voice 声の形 Dir: Naoko Yamada (2016) [Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2019]

A Silent Voice  

koe-no-katachi-film-poster-2声の形Koe no Katachi

Release Date: September 17th, 2016 (Japan)

Duration: 129 mins.

Director: Naoko Yamada

Writer: Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay), Yoshitoki Ooima (Original Manga)

Starring: Saori Hayami (Shouko Nishimiya), Miyu Irino/Mayu Matsuoka (Shouya Ishida),  Aoi Yuuki (Yuzuru Nishimiya),

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Website MAL ANN

If love brings out our best qualities, hatred deform us. A lack of empathy and ignorance lead to hatred and victimisation. This is perfectly illustrated in A Silent Voice. Based on Yoshitoki Ooima’s award-winning seven-volume manga, Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), with their trademark eye for revealing the humanity in their characters through their focus on exquisite character designs and animation, create a quiet and searing tale of teens experiencing the poisonous effect of bullying, the fragmenting of relationships and their self-perception in a story that takes the rather unconventional step of showing it from the perspective of the bully.

Directed by Naoko Yamada, she and her team of animators at KyoAni create one of the most honest portrayals of guilt and perseverance in the name of redemption through every character, each of whom carries some form of guilt and each of whom has been lovingly drawn and animated to give them a life that emanates from the screen so we can relate to them. Lingering shots on facial expressions or mid-shots that focus body-language and sign language show the subtly shifting emotions of hate and love so we feel for all of the characters.

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A Preview of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2019

This year’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival has 8 feature films packed with adventure, emotions, action and awesome animation, all of which should entertain a wide audience. Alongside the film screenings are the marketplace and raffle and we welcome two special guests from Japan.

Penguin Highway Key Image

The festival begins on October 04 at 18:00 at Chapter Arts, Cardiff, with a screening of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, the reintroduction and continuation of the Code Geass mecha saga where giant robots and political intrigue provide the drama. This will be followed by the Reception and an Anime Song Disco hosted by DJ Ryojin at 20:00 where guests can mingle and show off their moves on the dance-floor.

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Camera Japan 2017 Preview: Anime

Camera Japan 2017 has pulled together some of the best anime films made in the last year with a Ghibli classic thrown in for good measure. It’s a mixture of the biggest box-office earners and all are critical darlings (although I’m not sure about the recently released, Your Voice). Many of these films have become cultural lightning rods for Japanese people and anime fans worldwide as awareness of anime has spread worldwide and really rocketed in the last few years. Indeed, the mainstream critics are taking notice, ensuring that a huge audience are watching these film and distributors are placing them in cinemas for limited runs. The best example is In This Corner of the World which won Best Film at the Japan Academy awards. That too has become a huge hit worldwide and the screenings I attended in both the UK and Japan were packed.

All of these films have become break-out success stories around the world with each one getting a release in territories from Asia to America and I am fortunate enough to work for a film festival where we have programmed all but two. If you get the chance to see them all in one place, do! Camera Japan is the best opportunity to do that in Holland!

Not only do you get feature-film goodness, there are animated shorts which will show the strength of a new generation of Japanese animators.

To get a full overview of the festival, click on this link.

Here’s the low-down on what has been programmed:

Hirune Hime Film Image 1

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A Preview of Camera Japan 2017

Camera Japan Logo

Camera Japan 2017 starts in just under a months time in Rotterdam and Amsterdam and there is plenty to dig into so having the festival programme is a must. You can also read about the various films and events here on this site where I will have this guide complete with addresses and links to other, more detailed posts covering

Feature Films  |  Anime and Short Anime Films |  Documentaries

Special Screenings and Short Films   |   Workshops and Events

Check back over the week to read more!

So, what’s happening? Camera Japan starts off with a special event in Rotterdam on the 15th September at an artistic venue known as WORM. The event consists of a film screening and music. The film getting screened is Gui aiueo:S A Stone from Another Mountain to Polish Your Own Stone, an experimental black-and-white documentary film about a band travelling Japan and exploring different sounds and this is followed by a concert by Krautrock band Minami Deutsch who hail from Tokyo and sound like Kraftwerk.

The main body of the festival then starts with the Rotterdam run which will take place from 21st– 24th September at LantarenVenster and this is where the bulk of the films and events will be hosted. The festival then moves to Amsterdam from 29th September 01st October and there will be lots to see. I have added annotations to show what is being screened where. It’s needed because there is so much on offer.

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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2017 Preview

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival is back this Autumn and like in previous years (2016, 2015, 2014) I’m working for and covering it! Here’s information on this year’s event!The Night is Short, Walk on Girl Film Image

Chapter – September 29th – October 1st, 2017

Aberystwyth Arts Centre – October 28th, 2017

The Largest Festival of Japanese Animation in Wales Announces Dates, Locations and Films for 2017

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival returns to Wales for another edition in 2017 with audiences able to enjoy a whole host of Welsh premieres, a Japanese marketplace, and a Q&A and special film screening hosted by an important figure from the Japanese animation industry.

The festival begins in Cardiff at Chapter Arts on the evening of Friday, September 29th with a screening of Masaaki Yuasa’s film The Night is Short, Walk on Girl (2017), a charming romantic romp featuring a love-sick student chasing a girl through the streets of Kyoto, encountering magic and weird situations as he does so. Festival head, Eiko Ishii Meredith will be on hand to host the opening ceremony and a party to celebrate the start of the festival which will last until October 01st and include a diverse array of films from near-future tales Napping Princess (2017) to the internationally famous mega-hit Your Name (2016). The Cardiff portion of the festival ends with a screening of another Yuasa film, the much-requested Mind Game (2004), a film definitely sure to please fans of surreal and adventurous animation. This is the perfect chance for people to see it on the big-screen since it is rarely screened. A selection of these films will then be screened at the Aberystywth Arts Centre on October 28th as Kotatsu helps to widen access to Japanese animated films to audiences in different locations.

We are also very excited to welcome a very special guest to Wales, Professor Yuichi Ito. He is an award-winning animator who works in television and film as well as teaching at Tokyo National University of Arts. He will be travelling from Japan to Europe where he will present films and a Q&A to the public. He has graciously chosen Kotatsu (September 30th) as one of his two UK dates the other will be at the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol on September 22nd.

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Anime at Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films which will be screened and there are many top titles that will allow audiences to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. 

In terms of anime we have two of the most critically acclaimed movies in recent times in the shape of A Silent Voice and In This Corner of the World. There are also some CG and stop motion movies that might not normally get seen outside of festival spaces as well. Nippon Connection also continues its trend of highlighting new voices by working with the film academic Catherine Munroe Hotes and using her special programming skills to bring the latest in indie anime

What is on the programme, then?  You can view trailers and more details for each on the films by clicking on the links:

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Japanese Films at the 2017 Annecy International Film Festival

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival has been running since it was established in 1960. It is the world’s oldest and largest animation film festival and it has become one of the best places to glimpse early footage of upcoming anime. This year, it runs from the June 12th to the 17th and the programme line-up has already been announced and there are many Japanese titles both in and out of competition.

There will be many presentations including works in progress as well as a celebration of 100 years of anime.

Here’s what’s on offer:

In This Corner of the World Film Image

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Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017 – First Programme Highlights Revealed

Fans of Japanese films will know that one of the biggest and best film festivals in the world for such delights is held every May in Germany. It’s called Nippon Connection and this year’s event marks the seventeenth edition.

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. Exactly a month ago today, the organisers teased some of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened. You can count on there being a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce their works to the audience for the first time. According to the organisers, this year’s focus is on documentaries but there are many great dramas that have already been announced.

Here is what has been released so far:

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