Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020

Rotterdam International Film Festival Logo

From January 22nd to February 02nd 2020, the Rotterdam International Film Festival will screen a diverse mix of films from old masters and new talents and the Japanese contingent epitomises this with familiar names like Kazuo Hara and Nobuhiko Obayashi having their latest works picked up, after they had their premieres at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, alongside the freshest titles from newer voices like documentarian Kaori Oda and Isamu Hirabayashi who has worked a lot in anime.

Here are the Japanese movies, the newest titles first:

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A Preview of Nippon Connection 2018

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The 18th edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival (NCFF) runs from May 29th to June 03rd in Frankfurt am Main and it continues to be the biggest and best event to see Japanese films in the world. That’s no exaggeration because it has more than 100 short and feature length films ranging from documentaries to anime to indie films and there will be an incredible slate of supporting programmes aimed at a wide range of people. Not only that, there will be many Japanese and international filmmakers, musicians, and artists travelling to the event as guests who will introduce their works and talk about films. This year’s guest of honour is the renowned actress Shinobu Terajima who will receive the NIPPON HONOR AWARD 2018.

There are lots of films programmed and just as many events and with so much to see, I’ll try and cover everything in one post. To find out more about a film, click on section titles to be taken to the festival page. Here are some highlights of what’s on offer:

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Japanese Films at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The team behind the Osaka Asian Film Festival has released the entire programme of films that will play at this year’s edition and it’s a mighty cinematic feast spread across a Competition and programmes dedicated to Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other territories from elsewhere across Asia as well as Special Screenings, an Indie Forum, and films supported by the Housen Foundation.  

These films cover a huge range of stories from dramas involving people finding karate giving meaning to their lives, to a melancholy animated title about dogs to Taiwan. There are lots of fantastic Japanese short films and box-office hits and an appearance from Hong Kong’s king of comedy, Chapman To. He is the recipient of the Osaka Asia Star Award and will be at the festival to talk about his career. A new talent on the American indie-scene, Kogonoda, will get his film screened at the festival and there are up-and-coming female directors from Asia. More pertinently, there is a whole slew of fantastic Japanese indie films that have some of the best drama and settings. Most if not all of these films have English subs which makes this festival the best place in Japan to see films.

The entire programme and all details, times, and dates are online at the festival’s site and tickets are already on sale. Here is a preview covering the Japanese films:

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“Anarchist from Colony” to Open Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

The Osaka Asian Film Festival is back for its 13th year and a wide variety of films from across Asia will be shown in a programme that includes a Competition, Special Screenings, Special Programs, an Indie Forum and more.

The festival opens on Friday March 9th at Hankyu Umeda Hall with the Japanese premiere of the Korean film “Anarchist from Colony”, directed by Lee Joon-ik (“The Throne” and “Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet”) and stars Lee Je-hoon from “Architecture 101” and “Phantom Detective”, and the up-and-coming actress Choi Hee-seo who won many awards for her performance in this title.

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BAMY and Tokyo Vampire Hotel at the Torino Film Festival 2017 24th November – 02nd December

The 35th Torino Film Festival will take place from November 24th to December 02nd and there are a lot of interesting Asian films. I want to focus on Japanese titles and there are two on the programme, one of which is a super special supernatural romance tale that left me grinning with glee and the other a super fun-looking vampire tale from Japanese cinema legend Sion Sono. Here are the details:

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Programme Housen Film Round-Up

I’m writing this the night before I age another year… Back, way back, way way back in the past, when 2014 was about to turn into 2015, I made many New Year’s resolutions. I actually hit every one of my resolutions. Except one:

  • I will investigate the Japanese indie film scene much more,

I didn’t do much in terms of indie films. In fact, reviews of films in general have been dropping to all-time lows. This year, I was gifted the chance to get involved in the Japanese indie film scene when I was at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and had access to a whole bunch of indie titles and filmmakers. However, when it came time to network, I didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm and just stood in the background with a bemused expression because I was deep in thought (strange for a shallow person like me). I did make a couple of connections after film screenings and one has turned out to be a film-friend of sorts. The really indie stuff, as in the kids still in university or freshly graduated, the people who have ascended from the foothills to the slopes as they scale the mountain of a movie-making career, well, I briefly talked to a few but mostly just watched the films and sat in on a couple of Q&As. This happened at National Museum of Art in a really cool area of the city which I enjoyed walking through every day.

National Museum of Art, Osaka

The venue was pretty cool, the relaxed atmosphere of a small lecture hall in the quiet museum being conducive to thinking about a film without distraction. A decent-sized screen was enough to convey the cinematic visions of a bunch of talented creatives to a dedicated audience who seemed very interested in what they had watched (that was the impression I got from the Q&As where people asked probing questions). As was the case for every film at the festival, every screening had subtitles and the ones I saw were perfect. For my part, I sat back and wrote, laughed, and was entertained and informed by new stories of life in Japan and visions of communities and individuals that were unique. I even asked a question at a Q&A. Also, all of the screenings were totally free. Free films. I mean, what a deal!

I’ve got notes on each film and will be publishing reviews for them individually. This post is a bit like a statement of intent and a contents page. The Osaka Asian Film Festival sort of revitalised me as a film-blogger at a time when I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing except having fun. I have a direction to go in now. I’ve also rediscovered anime with Mind Game, The Night is Short, Walk on Girl, and A Silent Voice and with the new Kino no Tabi series out it’s time to get hype!

So what were the indie films I saw? They were part of the Housen strand.

Hosen Cultural Foundation: Support for film study and production

What is Housen? Based in Osaka, the Housen Cultural Foundation supports film study and production in graduate schools across Japan with the aim of preserving and helping grow film culture in Japan. This year’s crop of directors came from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Kyoto University and each shot a film that was technically great or near enough. Every film screening with the exception of Icarus and the Son was a world premiere and one of the Housen-backed films – Breathless Lovers – was selected for a screening in the Indie Forum section. Two of the films later made it to festivals like Nippon Connection and Japan Cuts.

Everybody watches a film differently due to their mindset and emotional baggage and I found I got wildly different responses from other people who saw the same thing. Since I’m usually the odd man out, whatever.

Insecurities out of the way, here are a few brief thoughts before I post reviews over the next week.

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Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2017

The 2017 edition of the London East Asia Film Festival takes place from October 19th to the 29th. This is the second year of the festival and it features a great selection of films from Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. The Japanese selection features some films fresh from Cannes, Camera Japan, Kotatsu, and other festivals and there are two new titles for me to write about, one live-action film and one anime.

London East Asia Film Festival 2017 Poster

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Camera Japan 2017 Preview: Feature Films

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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 which acts as an overview and comes complete with addresses and links. There are other, more detailed posts covering

Feature Films  |  Anime and Short Anime Films |  Documentaries

Special Screenings and Short Films   |   Workshops and Events

This particular post covers feature-length films which will be shown in Rotterdam (21st– 24th September) at LantarenVenster and Amsterdam from (29th September 01st October) and there will be lots to see.

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Camera Japan 2017: Special Screenings and Live-Action Shorts

Camera Japan 2017 is almost upon us. The films programmed for the Special Screenings held in Rotterdam run across decades from the 1920s to 2008. Some of these are associated with the Kyushu aspect of the festival and all are rarely screened. Indeed, the oldest film, A Page of Madness, is a recently rediscovered classic that was once thought lost. It is now getting traction globally but the process has just started and it’s slow. Imagine being able to see it with a live benshi performance like it was originally intended to be seen… It’s happening at Camera Japan! Also screened is Shinji Aoyama’s epic slow-burn drama Eureka which is both visually and emotionally beautiful.

I’ve also thrown in information on the live-action short films that will be screened at Rotterdam. You can access a page which contains an overview of the entire festival through this link.

Here is what has been programmed!

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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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