A new film festival called Reel Japan will take place at the end of April at The Yard Theatre, London. It is a two day event that takes place from Saturday30th April 2016 to Sunday1st May 2016 and its programme consists of eight films, all released in the UK by Third Window Films.
The festival is the latest event from the organisers of the Brick Lane Japan Film Festival which took place in January this year, an event that sold out quickly. Reel Japan’s artistic vision is to bring the best and most exciting Japanese cinema to the UK. This means that audiences get titles from Shinya Tsukamoto, SionSono, Takashi Miike and the others. The theme for this collection of films is “Twisted Love” and viewers will get the chance to explore the darker side of love and life through an exciting line-up of titles:
At last year’s Terracotta Far East Film Festival I saw Be My Baby, a small independent film made by a workshop on a tiny budget and starring a bunch of unknown and rather inexperienced actors. The low-budget film was an acting tour-de-force and an example of smart directing making the most of minimal resources.
Be My Baby is a satirical story about a group of young, rough, and broke guys and girls who follow gyaru culture at a house party from hell and the fallout from that experience which leads to developing relationships, dirty secrets, terribly embarrassing revelations, and the exposure of how emotionally fragile, lonely and desperate these characters are. It’s twisting, talky, and at times tiring keeping track of the bed-hopping and shifting allegiances but there’s a lot of substance and the film is a real expose of one part of Japanese youth culture struggling with part time jobs and no expectations. This is a great example of ‘workshop’ filmmaking which is popular in Japan and, let me state again, the acting is phenomenal. I met some of the cast before the film and seeing the transformation in clothes, physicality, and speech was remarkable. Here’s my review of Be My Baby恋の渦 (2013) which goes into more detail about what I felt watching the film.
Third Window Films are going to release the film at the end of next month. Here are the details:
Audiences used to the stereotypes of Japan where everything is kawaii and the people are all formality, blushing confessions, shyness and kindness, all the desu and degozaimasu heard in keigo (honorific language) will be in for a shock as Be My Baby exposes an unpleasant underbelly of J-pop culture with a bruising blue-black comedy about a group of fashion-conscious sex obsessed characters with more interest in carnal pleasures than their futures. Be My Baby is a razor-sharp satire of “gyaru” culture which sticks the camera into the steamy and chaotic love lives of a group of sleazy, emotionally damaged and desperate characters who betray each other with hilarious and scary ease.
The programme of films for this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival was announced on Wednesday and there’s a decent selection of Japanese films. No real surprises since most of these have been at various film festivals (most at Rotterdam) around the world and I have written about ALL of them at some point so I know which I’d want to watch if I had the choice.
For people interested in seeing some of the latest Japanese films who can’t make the Terracotta Far East Film Festival, they would do well to attend Edinburgh which shares Be My Baby an example of the latest trend in Japanese indie filmmaking. Anatomy of a Paperclip got an excellent write-up from Tony Rayns when it was at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. One title that has me super-intrigued is Miss Zombie by Sabu, a film director whose works I first became acquainted with when in high school and reacquainted myself with when I asked a friend to help me procure some of the 90’s titles. This is another title which got critics talking, an original take on the zombie genre.
This Japanese film is a product of the ‘workshop’ indie films that are released nearly every weekend in Tokyo. Be My Baby is a low-budget film shot I four days for under $10,000 in a couple of locations. It is based on a play by award-winning dramatist Daisuke Miura (which was screened at cinemas) and it’s directed by Hitoshi One, director of the big-budget Love Strikes!. It’s a very adult film about the aftermath of a party attended by a group of drop-out twenty-somethings who are all flawed and caught up in damaging relationships. It got its UK premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival and Third Window Films are backing this.
This will be the sixth Terracotta Far East Film Festival and it still remains the best place to see a wide variety of releases from East Asian cinema. There are a number of different strands to the festival such as Current Asian Cinema where the latest titles from territories like Japan and Hong Kong are played. The Terror Cotta Horror All-Nighter makes a welcome return with some great looking titles mixing ghosts and serial killers. The Spotlight On section uncovers the hottest titles that remain undiscovered. Last year’s festival saw Indonesia as the focus, this year the Philippines takes centre stage with six films released within the last year getting screened. The festival is made opens on May 23rd at The Institute of Contemporary Arts with the Spotlight On: Philippines. The festival will then move to The Prince Charles Cinema from May 28th to June 01st where the festival will screen films from The Current Asian Cinema and Terror Cotta Horror All-Nighter sections.
Enough of the intro, the next part has the films, dates and times. Click on the title to get taken to the festival page.