A Glimpse at the Films at the Tokyo Student Film Festival 2021

The 32nd Tokyo Student Film Festival runs from October 19th to October 23rd in Shibuya Eurospace and 25 films have been selected for audiences to enjoy. The line-up consists of indie and feature films, all produced by students. You will notice familiar names in the line-up. This is because the festival programmers have worked with experienced directors like Kaori Oda (Toward a Common Tenderness, Cenote) and Rikiya Imaizumi (Over the Town) to some of their early career-defining works in each of the sections.

Here are the films with information pulled from the festival site which is a great resource and very well laid out so click on the links to find out more!

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Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2021 (October 07 – 14)

The Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2021 (YIDFF) runs from October 07 to the 14 and it is an online event due to the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of planning has been put into keeping audiences safe and also connected with films, with filmmakers, and with each other,  as the YIDFF community takes to an online space which will be available all across Japan.

Keeping in line with the very best of international festivals, the expert team of progammers have ensured that this edition of YIDFF will have the very latest and best in documentaries, filmmaker Q&As, symposiums, and various exchange programmes that participants of the festival can enjoy sharing together from the comfort of their homes.

Tickets go on sale today at 19:00 (JST) and prices are very, very good(!) with one programme coming to 1,300 yen. With limited availability on tickets, best to nab them before they sell out.

Here’s the trailer:

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2021

BFI London Film Festival Logo

This year’s London Film Festival runs from October 06th to the 17th and it is partially online, partially in-theatre. Viewers across the UK will be able to access a selection of films in some regional cinemas which have partnered with the fest to screen some of the films.

After last year’s London Film Festival having a paltry single Japanese title in its line-up – this when 2020 was the year that the BFI was going all in on its Japanese movie coverage – 2021 looks a lot better. While they don’t get the Tokyo Olympics bounce, they have re-initiated their Japan Season and cherrypicked a handful of key titles that have already.

Here’s what is programmed (click on the title to be taken to the corresponding festival page):

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An Interview with Mayu Nakamura, Director of Among Four of Us [OAFF 2021/JAPAN CUTS 2021]

Mayu Nakamura’s film Among Four of Us may only last 20 minutes but it makes a deep impact. A conversation piece involving three friends reuniting during the COVID-19 pandemic, it focuses on their fractious interpersonal history from college drama club and a mercurial fourth figure who had a major impact on them. As they catch up, wistful memories mix together with regrets and admissions of betrayal to end on an overwhelming note of melancholy. It is a mature and delicate work that, thanks to Nakamura’s writing and a trio of tight performances, is suffused with meaning. Made during the COVID-19 pandemic, it cleverly weaves the atmosphere and restrictions of the time into the narrative to create a sympathetic and very dramatic film. Nakamura’s background shows why.

A filmmaker who earned an MFA from the Graduate Film Program at New York University, Nakamura has made documentaries and features for both film and TV. Her debut feature, The Summer of Stickleback (2006), premiered in competition at the Busan International Film Festival while her documentary Lonely Swallows–Living as the Children of Migrant Workers (2012) won the Grand Prix in Documentary Features at the Brazilian Film Festival. One long-term project she is working on is the documentary Alone in Fukushima which tracks a man who remained behind in a small town to look after cattle located in a nuclear no-man’s land.

Nakamura kindly took the time out of her busy schedule to take part in an interview where she explained the origins of the story, her influences, and how she and a small cast and crew filmed it. This interview was originally connected to the screening of the film as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021, where it won the Japan Cuts Award Special Mention. Its posting coincides with its streaming availability as part of JAPAN CUTS. My thanks go out to the filmmaker and the organizers who made this conversation happen.

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An Interview with Kazuya Shiraishi, Director of “Last of the Wolves” [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

All bets were off with Last of the Wolves. It was the highly anticipated sequel to The Blood of Wolves, a gangster epic that was a throwback to Kinji Fukasaku’s Battles Without Honor and Humanity series what with its yakuza politics, police corruption, and fearless depiction of brutal violence. This crime world is based on the critically-acclaimed novels of Yuko Yuzuki so there is a lot of material to work with but with a number of major characters dead or locked up in the slammer, just where would the sequel go? To the younger generation as yakuza wars heated up in Hiroshima Prefecture!

Blood of the Wolves Level 2

This is the latest work by Kazuya Shiraishi (The Devil’s PathTwisted JusticeOne NightDawn of the Felines). He has a knack for filming edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers and Last of the Wolves managed to do justice to the first film and take things to the very next level thanks to two intensely physical performances, one from the intimidating presence of Ryohei Suzuki who plays a murderous yakuza thug, the other from Tori Matsuzaka who is wilier than a fox as a cop dodging death while double-dealing with gangsters. Director Kazuya Shiraishi explained more about the film, what drew him into the project, the talents that Suzuki and Matsuzaka have, and more in this interview done as part of the New York Asian Film Festival 2021.

Image taken from: https://news.yahoo.co.jp/byline/nakanishimasao/20191030-00148849

This interview was done with the help of Takako Pocklington, who translated my questions, Koichi Mori of the New York Asian Film Festival, who set up the interview and translated the answers, and also the film festival staff who pulled off an excellet NYAFF 2021! Many thanks go out to them and, of course, to Kazuya Shiraishi who participated!

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A Preview of the Kanazawa Film Festival 2021 in Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Art (September 18-20)

The Kanazawa Film Festival 2021 will take place this year from September 18th (Saturday) to the 20th (Monday) at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Theatre 21. There are different sections but the one I am focussing on is dedicated to New Directors.

In the New Directors section, there are 11 films which were selected from 83 submissions. Each of the films is new and so they were done during the Coronavirus pandemic. The winner of the Grand Prix “Promising New Director Award” will receive 2 million yen to support his or her next film.

 I hope you and I get some use out of this information and from the images, all of which have been taken from the film festival’s website:

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