Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2012

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The 69th Venice International Film Festival launches on the 29th of August and ends on the 8th of September. It is a place where Japanese films frequently crop up – Himizu premiered at last year’s event. This year’s festival has a few Japanese films and since this is a blog dedicated to Japanese films (most of the time…) here are the titles:

Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Romaji: Shokuzai

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Screening Dates: 2:30 p.m. 30th of August (Palabiennale)

Running Time: 270 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Script), Kanae Minato (Original Novel)

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama

Kiyoshi Kurosawa followed the magnificent Tokyo Sonata with this five-episode TV drama based on Kanae Minato’s novel of the same name (Minato also wrote the novel which the film Confessions is based on). It is playing Out of Competition, a section dedicated to “Important works by directors already established in previous editions of the Festival”. Well that applies to the genius that is Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Anyway this stars a collection of some of the best actresses in Japan including Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Adrift in Tokyo), Sakura Ando (Love Exposure, Crime or Punishment?!?), Yu Aoi (Memories of Matsuko, All About Lily Chou-Chou), Eiko Koike (Kamikaze Girls, 2LDK) and Chizuru Ikewaki (Haru in The Cat Returns). It seems like 30 minutes has been cut from the total running time but it has Kurosawa’s trademark eerie atmosphere and deep characters.


When a girl named Emiri moves from Tokyo to Ueda she makes friends with four girls named Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka. One day when the five girls are playing volleyball at school they are approached by a man dressed in work clothes who asks for their help in repairing the ventilation system. He picks Emiri. The two head towards the gym. When there is no sign of Emiri returning her friends head in the same direction and discover her dead. When questioned by the police they cannot describe the man which means leads to the investigation grinding to a halt. Several months later, Emiri’s mother Asako (Koizumi) invites the four girls to her house on Emiri’s birthday. It is there that she tells them that they will have to atone for their inability to describe the man and help in his capture. Fifteen years later, Sae (Aoi), Maki (Koike), Akiko (Ando) and Yuka (Ikewaki) are leading troubled lives and live in fear of the penance expected of them.

Carmen Comes Home                                  Carmen Comes Home Film Poster

Romaji: Karumen Kokyō ni Kaeru

Japanese Title: カルメン 故郷 に 帰る

Screening Dates: 5:00 p.m. 31st of August (Sala Perla), 10:00 p.m. 01st September (Sala Volpi)

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Kinoshita Keisuke

Writer: Kinoshita Keisuke

Starring: Hideko Takamine, Toshiko Kobayashi, Yūko Mochizuki, Shuji Sano, Kuniko Igawa, Chishu Ryu, Keiji Sada, Koji Mitsui

Carmen Comes Home is screened as part of the Venice Classics section. It was Japan’s first colour film and was released in 1951. It stars Hideko Takamine (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs which Goregirl loved, and Obaasan), Yūko Mochizuki (Ballad of Narayama, Kaidan). It was directed by Kinoshita Keisuke (Ballad of Narayama) and his assistant director was Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, Kaidan, Samurai Rebellion). No trailer but here’s a scene.

A girl named Aoyama (Takamine) returns to the small village she grew up in after living in Tokyo. When the truth of the life she has been leading in Tokyo is revealed there is a scandal. Her name in Tokyo is Lily Carmen and she is a… I’ll leave that up to the audience to find out.

Outrage Beyond                                       Outrage Beyond Film Poster

Romaji: Autoreiji Biyondo

Japanese Title: アウトレイジ ビヨンド

Screening Dates: 4:30 p.m. 03rd of September (Sala Grande), 10:00 p.m. (Palabiennale)

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Fumiyo Kohinata, Toshiyuki Nishida, Hirofumi Arai, Akira Nakao, Yutaka Matsushige, Kenta Kiritani, Sansei Shiomi, Hideo Nakano

Outrage Beyond gets its world premiere in September at the Venice International Film Festival in competition. This is ahead of its Japanese release on the 06th of October. Just a look at the synopsis and cast list contains some spoilers for the first film but there you go. It stars that magnificent filmmaker Takeshi Kitano (Kids Return, Boiling Point), Ryo Kase (Like Someone in Love, SPEC: Heaven), Tomokazu Miura (Adrift in Tokyo, Survive Style 5+), Yutaka Matsushige (Ring). After watching the first film I know who I want to see get bumped off first but the guy is so slick he might just survive round two!

When he is released from prison Otomo (Kitano) finds himself part of a police plot to destroy his former Yakuza brothers.

The Millennial Rapture                          Millenial Rapture Film Poster

Romaji: Sennen no Yuraku

Japanese Title: 千 年 の 愉楽

Screening Dates: 11:30 a.m. 04th September (Sala Grande), 2:00 p.m. 05th of September (Sala Grande),

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Koji Wakamatsu

Writer: Koji Wakamatsu(Script), Kenji Nakagami (Original Novel)

Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Kengo Kora, Shota Sometani, Shiro Sano, Arata, Taro Yamamoto, Mayu Harada, Sousuke Takaoka

Fresh from premiering 11:25, the Day He Decided His Own Fate, the prolific Koji Wakamatsu uses the wonderful month of September to appear at the Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti section which covers new trends in world cinema. His latest is called The Millennial Rapture and it stars Shinobu Teraima (Helter Skelter, 11:25, The Day He Decided His Own Fate), Shota Sometani (Himizu), Shiro Sano (Vanished, United Red Army), and Kengo Kora (Norwegian Wood, The Woodsman and the Rain, The Drudgery Train, Signal).

This collection of stories is set in Shingu in the Wakayama Prefecture and focusses on the lives of various people of the Burakumin minority group. These people include a womaniser and a yakuza.


That’s a pretty strong line-up of films actually. There are also other titles like Kim Ki-Duk’s latest. Needless to say I wish I was there sipping expensive coffee, gazing at the beautiful women and watching awesome Japanese films. I will try and follow the buzz as I have done with previous festivals.