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Japanese Animation at the London International Animation Festival 2017

The 14th London International Animation Festival (LIAF 17) returns to the Barbican from 1st-10th December and there are 200 animated shorts and features slated to appear as well as a lot of guests who will take part in Q&As and presentations. There is a focus on the on-screen representation of women and the usual high-quality and diverse selection of films which show the various media used in making the many different films.

As the organisers have written on their site,

This year’s uncompromising programme promises to inspire, delight and challenge the notion that animation is merely for the 3D-CGI blockbuster genre or cute cartoons for kids. Independent animation is an art form that continues to thrive and develop as a breathtaking medley of styles, materials, techniques and production – including hand drawn, paint on glass, collage, sculpture, cut outs, puppets, abstract, sand/salt, the interesting developments in CGI – all of which can be seen at LIAF 2017.

Here’s what’s on offer:

Gokurosama Image

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Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival 2017

Taking place in Yurakucho as Yurakacho Asahi Hall, Tokyo FILMeX offers English-subtitled films from across Asia. It runs from November 18th to the 26th and during that time, filmmakers will appear to show off their latest works and take part in industry events aimed at strengthening Asian cinema. Some of these titles have already hit the festival circuit and won awards. There are three Japanese films due to be screened and they all look special as do all the other films from various parts of Asia.

Here is the trailer for the festival and the films will follow. Click on a title to be taken to the festival page:

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Japanese Films at Abertoir Horror Festival 2017 in Aberystwyth, Wales’ International Horror Festival 14-19th November

The 2017 edition of Abertoir, The International Horror Festival of Wales, takes place from November 14th to the 19th. It is an annual horror and horror film festival held in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Ceredigion, Wales, and it has a history of screening great Japanese horror movies as well as attracting guests from around the world. It’s great to see Aberystwyth hosting so many Japanese films (especially since they support anime in the form of Kotatsu – the 2017 run is here, 2016, and 2015 and 2014) and it’s great that the people who run Abertoir pick a diverse selection of films including these ones!

Here are the Japanese films programmed!

Tokyo Ghoul Rize

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Japanese Films at the Five Flavours Film Festival

The 11th Five Flavours Film Festival takes place from November 15th to the 22nd in Poland and the programme was announced at the end of October. It’s packed with a great selection of films for people who will be in Warsaw for the event.

Here they are:

Yamato Californiayamato-california-film-poster

大和(カリフォルニア)  Yamato (Kariforunia)   

Running Time: 75 mins.

Director: Daisuke Miyazaki

Writer: Daisuke Miyazaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Hanae Kan, Nina Endo, Reiko Kataoka, Mayumi Kato, Shuya Nishiji, Haruka Uchimura,

IMDB

I watched this at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and quite recently and was impressed. I didn’t have the nerve to talk to the director but would have congratulated him on making a great coming-of-age tale that combines Hip-Hop and international politics and getting great performances from his actors. Here’s my review!

Synopsis from the Osaka Asian Film Festival SiteSakura is a moody teenage girl living close to the US military base in the city of Yamato, a town north of Tokyo. She wants to become a musician like the American rappers she admires, but is held back by stage-fright when faced with performing in front of a live audience. Then she meets Rei, the half-Japanese half-American daughter of her mother’ s American soldier boyfriend. Rei has flown from California to visit for the summer. Sakura dislikes her immediately, but Rei’ s familiarity with American Hip Hop becomes a bridge between the two girls as they spend an unforgettable time together exploring, arguing over and bonding through the mix of Japanese and American culture in the unique landscape of Yamato. Though their adventures and quarrels may lead Sakura into danger, they may also let her face her fears and participate in the city’s music competition.

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Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2017

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

On the day the Toronto International Film Festival launches, we get word from another great Canadian film festival! The Vancouver International Film Festival takes place from September 28th to October 13th and the organisers launched the programme today. The festival has long had a great love of East Asian cinema and supported various filmmakers both indie and mainstream and it continues to do so with this selection of films.

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Tak Sakaguchi’s “Re:Born” to get its UK premiere at The Fighting Spirit Festival, September 16th

Eureka recently announced their slate of newest acquisitions and it included two Japanese fims – Tag (2015), Sion Sono’s carnival of chaos as Japanese schoolgirls take part in epic death-games, and Re:Born (2017), the recent return of action-man Tak Sakaguchi (Versus, Deadball) where he plays an ex-special-forces soldier fighting for his loved ones. Re:Born will have its UK premiere on September 16th as the main film of The Fighting Spirit Festival which takes place at the Boleyn Theatre in London.

The Fighting Spirits Festival is a relatively new event which is in its second year of operation. It celebrates and promotes Martial Arts Culture and those who have made martial arts as a careerthrough films and demonstrations. The films screened range from feature-length titles to shorts, classics like Shaw Brothers titles like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) to more modern takes such as Herman Yau’s 2013 movie Ip Man. It has support from the Chinese Visual Festival, East Winds Film Festival, Arrow Video and Eureka so it’s guaranteed a lot of great films. Show some love for East Asian movies and take a look at the festival.

It’s pretty exciting to see a Japanese martial arts movie take the top spot, especially with Tak Sakaguchi in the lead role which is what drew my attention to it. Here are more details:

Re: Born   Re Born Film Poster

RE:BORN リボーン 「RE:BORN Ribo-n

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director:  Yuji Shimomura

Writer: Benio Saeki (Screenplay),

Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Yura Kondo, Issei Ishida, Mariko Shinoda, Takumi Saito, Hitomi Hasebe, Masaya Kato, Akio Otsuka, Makoto Sakaguchi, Kenta, Rina Takeda,

IMDB Website

RE:BORN stars Tak Sakaguchi. Even if the films he is in are gore-fests where the main highlight are the special-effects and humour, he tends to make an impact because he can act and he has the charisma and martial arts skills to make a good action hero. He has been making horror and action movies for a while as an action director (he worked on High & Low: The Red Rain (2016) and Sion Sono’s movies Tag and Love Exposure, Himizu) and an actor (Osaka Snake Road: Snake of Violence, Tokyo Gore Police, Alive, Shinobi: Heart Under Blade and Meatball Machine: Kodoku). He was fantastic in Sion Sono’s (yes, him again,) Why Don’t You Play in Hell? which, if you had to watch one performance, is the one I’d recommend.

He is working with another prolific action director named Yuji Shinomura (Library Wars, Strayers Chronicle, I Am a Hero) and the fight choreographer Yoshitaka Inagawa, a former close combat instructor for U.S. Special Forces and other international commando units. The film showcases Inugawa’s Zero Range Combat System – a technique focused around extremely quick and efficient movements at close range.

The action in the trailer looks breathtaking and Tak Sakaguchi looks focused and cool in the lead role. Hardcore action films like this seem to be in short-supply from Japan and so it’s great seeing this on the big screen in the UK!!!

Synopsis: Toshiro (Tak Sakaguchi) is a seemingly normal guy who runs a convenience store in a small town. He lives a quiet life with his young niece Sachi but in the past, Toshiro was known as “Ghost” and was a lethal member for a special covert forces unit. He thought he had left that life behind but when his ex-comrades kidnap Sachi, he has to be reborn as a beast to get her back!

Camera Japan 2017 Events

My Camera Japan 2017 coverage continues with this quick round-up of events that will be taking place during the festival. Some of these are not listed on the website or have been mentioned in earlier posts such as the general overview. Everything except a Filmbrunch takes place in Rotterdam.

Events kick off on the 15th of September with a warm-up of the festival at WORM in Rotterdam which is a multidisciplinary evening, consisting of the experimental black-and-white movie Gui aiueo:S A Stone from Another Mountain to Polish Your Own Stone by Go Shibata (see the documentary section for more) and a concert by Krautrock band Minami Deutsch.

Hāfu2Hāfu – Portraits of half Japanese people and their unique question to you.

Tetsuro Miyazaki is a half-Belgian half-Japanese photographer whose project involved photographing hāfu (Japanese mixed with another ethnicity) from every country in the world and sharing their most significant questions about identity, sense of belonging and growing up with two different cultures. This is an interesting follow-up to the 2013 documentary Hāfu – The Mixed Race Experience in Japan.

SUIHA / Water Wave • 水波

Yasuhito Arai is a Japanese artist currently residing in the Netherlands. He is known for his sound installations and concerts in which the audience often finds “nature” within and around themselves. His passion is to express his feelings that resonate with the place and audience at a particular moment. His latest installation

The Smell of the Tale of Genji

Maki Ueda devles into the world’s first modern novel, The Tale of Genji, through smells. Home fragrances (or soradakimono) play a big role. They are used as metaphors for the seasons, characters or emotions. During this workshop people will first learn about the scents described in the story, after which they will get to make them using traditional materials. The result is a “fragrant sachet” that they can use as a home fragrance.

Sencha Workshop

Green tea is everywhere in Japan! It’s consumed more than Coca-Cola! It’s only rival is water and beer but even then you don’t see them handed out every few seconds during meetings in Japan!Takahide Suzuki will lead a workshop where he will teach students everything there is to know about sencha, a very popular kind of Japanese green tea. There will also be the chance to taste many varieties of sencha inclduing the most high grade sencha known as “Gyokuro”. Takahide Suzuki hails from Shizuoka, the tea capital of Japan so he knows what he’s talking about!.

Interventions At Camera Japan

Interventions sound menacing – like rescuing someone from a cult – but fear not, these are short acts which will “transport you briefly to another world” through dazzling feats of comics, martial artists, and dancers who will appear at random during the festival.

Miso Workshop

Do you know what else is common in Japan? Miso soup. Every meal I had with Japanese people usually had miso involved. What is Miso? Fermented soybean paste and it’s an essential ingredient in Japanese cooking. It’s great stuff and Camera Japan is the place to learn how to make miso with an expert from Malicafe Organic Vegan Food in Amsterdam and find out about its importance in Japanese society.

Performance by Noriko Tujiko,

She is often described as the Japanese answer to Björk and Mum because of her mix of poppy tunes and experimental electronics which she has developed over the course of releasing 15 albums. She is a musician, songwriter and filmmaker based in Paris and visitors to Camera Japan will see her as she performs as the lead actor in the film Kuro. After the screening, she will perform a concert after the screening!

Filmbrunch

Camera Japan are pairing up two films with a food fest stocked with delicious Japanese inspired goodies. Make a Sunday special with a screening of ‘Oh Lucy!’, nd ‘Her Love Boils Bathwater’ and some delicious treats!!!

Japanese Craft Beer Tasting

One of the many things that unites Europe and Japan is a love of beer. We Europeans are now getting used to big Japanese brands like Asahi, Sapporo and Kirin (usually brewed over here but whatever) but what is the Japanese craft beer market really like. Unless you travel to Japan you may never taste it… Unless you go to Camera Japan! There will be a tasting session where you will get to try some of the best Japanese craft beers. The evening includes a short documentary titled Craft Beer in Japan, co-director by Dutch filmmaker Maarten Roos.

Kids’ Day

Kids love hands on activities and both Nippon Connection and Camera Japan provide them. This year, the festival will provide a special afternoon for children and their parents full of workshops, games, and, yes, films!

Opening Traditions (Installation + lecture + film)

This is a collaborative project between designers Emilie Pallard (FR), Makiko Shinoda (JP) and Niels Heymans (NL). The three worked together over a period of two years and investigated the craft of Kurume Kasuri: a weaving technique typical to the Kurume region of Fukuoka prefecture, Kyushu. The technique requires yarn to be tied and dyed before weaving, resulting in lush patterns with a subtle, hazy appearance. Pallard and Heymans will present both a film and a book about their project, and the textile will be displayed in an installation. The images on the website make it look rather interesting.

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

Overview | Feature Films  |  Anime and Short Anime Films |  Documentaries    |   Special Screenings and Short Films   |  Workshops and Events

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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.

Continue reading “A Preview of Camera Japan 2017”

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Japanese Films at the Venice Film Festival 2017

The Venice International Film Festival launches its 74th edition on August 30th and it lasts until September 09th and the line-up was announced earlier this week. I’ve missed the last couple editions of the festival because there have been few Japanese films (the last edition I covered was in 2014). Anyway, there are two Japanese films from current directors and three classics from the golden age present this year. One if the modern ones is a Hirokazu Koreeda film which is in the international competition section which has many world premieres. Takeshi Kitano has his latest film screened out of competition, a section dedicated to already-established directors. There is also on American documentary about the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

There are a couple of other Asian movies. To find out more about them, head over to Windows on Worlds.

Here are the details on the Japanese films:

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Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2017

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Poster

This year’s Cannes Film Festival (17th – 28th May) is the 70th edition of the event and the festival head Thierry Fremaux announced the Official Selection of films programmed last week. Critics are salivating over the fact that there are two Netflix films: the monster movie Okja by Bong Joon-ho (The Host) and The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach (writer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and director of Mistress America). There will be two TV series for audiences to watch: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake and lots more familiar faces such as Sofia (Somewhere) Coppola’s The Beguiled, Michael (Code Unknown/Cache) Haneke’s Happy End (knowing Haneke, it’s probably an ironic title…). More importantly, there are also nine first-time filmmakers getting their works screened.

Why is that important?

The Cannes Film Festival comes into 2017 with a need to find fresh blood and this is seemingly strong selection because may be it. Since this is the 70th anniversary of the festival and the fact that, last year, organisers faced fierce criticism last year for their lack of female directors, commentators identified that they needed to do a couple of things: broaden out its programme so that there are filmmakers other than the old guard (Campion, Haneke, Kawase, Haynes, the Dardennes brothers etc.) and increase the number of female-centric stories and female-led films across the programme. The old guard are back but just by glancing at the lists of announced films, it is clear that the festival has achieved some of its goals and will probably avoid the criticism it faced last year – hopefully, no high-heels and breast-feeding baby incidents will crop up). Things are a bit of a mixed picture when it comes to the Japanese films.

So far, there are four Japanese films programmed, and three come from festival regulars: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Naomi Kawase, and Takashi Miike. Two of the four are adaptations while the other two are original dramas. Out of the dramas, one is made by a seasoned professional while the shorter one at 45 minutes is from a student. The presence of a fresh director is always something to cheer when it comes to Japanese films at international festivals and this director is a lady to boot: Aya Igashi. She is a graduate from Toei Gakuen Film College’s movie production department and is already working on her third film.

So, while we can all sigh and shrug our shoulders at the lack of original content, we can take comfort in the fact that Aya Igashi is on the radar of people who programme the festival.

What are the films playing this year?

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