Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2021

Rotterdam International Film Festival Logo

From February 01st – 07th and June 2nd – 06th 2020, the 50th edition of the Rotterdam International Film Festival will screen their films online. It’s going to be an online experience available to people in Holland, however, some of the screen talks will be available worldwide. These are all available to view over a certain number of days via the festival’s own streaming platform.

Check out this page for more details.

There are three films programmed. One of the films here was at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, one looks relatively brand new while the other comes from France and they are all in the Big Screen Competition.

Here are the Japanese movies:

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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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Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019

The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 starts on January 23rd and ends on February 03rd. There are many Japanese titles, nearly all of them being indies and all but two in the Bright Future strand which is dedicated to supporting new artists such as Natsuka Kusano and Koki Tanaka. There is also the Voices strand which is a place for more established directors like Shinya Tsukamoto. The indies towards the end of this post look fascinating.

Here are the films!

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Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018

The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 runs from  January 24th to February 04th and it includes a massive amount of titles which all look really special. Some are so new, there’s little information. Without further ado, here are the titles!

Yeah Yohei Suzuki

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Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2017

It’s a grey day in Osaka and pretty cold but I’m staying indoors for most of it since I am cleaning video game consoles. Anyway, The Rotterdam International Film Festival starts later this month and it features a plethora films from Japan that range from the familiar to the new, plus there’s some interesting little shorts. It’s a programme packed with Japanese films but actually using the website to find them was irritating due to the search options, the way information was hidden and the overall look. I’m not a fan. I searched for it so you don’t have to.

Enough of my whining, there are many great films on offer from Roman Porno to yakuza comedy and this is another great year for Rotterdam.

Here’s what’s on offer (click on the titles to be taken to pages with more information):


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Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2016

The Rotterdam International Film Festival has started and lasts from January 28th to February 07th and there is a large contingent of Japanese films programmed, quite possibly the largest I have seen in the few years I have been watching the event. There are a lot of great titles, some of which are considered the best films to be made in 2015 and there is a diverse range of stories. The festival plays host to animation from a range of artists and there are shorts from Takeshi Kitano. Some of these are red hot international premieres while some of the films have been screened at Canadian film festivals already, some in 2014 (so there’s a bit of copy and paste from previous festival trailer posts). As well as contemporary film, there is also a retrospective for the director Masao Adachi who worked during the 1960s.

Here are the films:

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Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2015

The 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival launches in just over a week and it will take place from January 21st to February 01st. Rotterdam has always been good for Japanese filmmakers with many like Sion Sono, Takashi Miike and Kiyoshi Kurosawa getting their films screened and receiving support. This year’s line-up of titles has some of their latest projects programmed as major films come to the end of a long festival run including Toronto which is where I got some of the trailers from. Of note is the appearance of Lisa Takeba who was at last year’s festival with The Pinkie. Her projects strike me as interesting and it seems that the programmers at Rotterdam agree because she is back with the world premiere of her latest, Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory!

The line-up features a real variety in topic and tone making this Rotterdam a good one for fans of Japanese films. There are a lot that have toured other festivals but more which have not been widely seen so it’s worth looking at all of them to see if there are any that catch your eye!

Here’s the line-up of films:

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Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2014

The 43rd International Film Festival Rotterdam launches on January 22nd and finishes on February 02nd. The line-up of Asian films has been revealed and there are strong titles from Japan. A lot of these have played at other festivals but there are some really great indie titles. There are quite a lot and the choice is so great! Enough from me, here’s the selection!

Rotterdam Film Festival 2014

The Pinkie

Running Time: 65 mins.

Director: Lisa Takeba

Writer: Lisa Takeba (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Kanji Tsuda

Wow, this looks like a lot of fun which is why I put it first. It comes from Lisa Takeba who was at last year’s festival with a short film about an alien private detective who is wandering around earth. If that sounds a little random, this one reads a lot more interesting as it looks like a mash-up of anime, film and Japanese pop culture and fashion where a female stalker has her way with the guy of her dreams. Lisa Takeba has a background in advertising and writing videogames so she’s got a lot of experience with different styles to work with! It stars Miwako Wagatsuma who is an actress worth tracking because she is taking on interesting roles as can be seen from her filmography which includes Guilty of Romance, The End of Puberty, sentimental Yasuko, Kuro and Shing Shing Shing.

Since they were both five, Ryosuke has been stalked by Momoko – the ugliest girl in the village. Momoko’s love for Ryosuke is so boundless that she has her face surgically altered to suit his taste – but still he wants nothing to do with her. Ryosuke is more interested in the girlfriend of a gangster boss. But when the boss finds out about their affair, he has Ryosuke’s little finger hacked off. Magically, the finger falls into Momoko’s hands, and she uses it to clone Ryosuke, so she can finally have him (or almost him) for herself – and that’s the first five minutes.


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Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 2

Genki Rotterdam International Film Festival Banner

The Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 starts today! The festival takes place from January 23rd to February 03rd and the schedule is out. There is a fair-sized contingent of Japanese films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival which is why I have split this post into two parts. In the first part I looked at some of the highlights of the feature-length films (and missed three out すみません!) while in this part there are more outré titles, international co-productions, television series and short films.

I tend to ignore short films in my festival reporting but this selection looks really good.

Here are the rest of the films programmed for the festival!


Lesson of the Evil                           Lesson of the Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 悪 の 教典

Romaji: Aku no Kyoten

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer:  Yusuke Kishi

Starring: Hideaki Ito, Fumi Nikaidou, Shota Sometani, Kento Hayashi, Hirona Yamazaki, Kento Hayashi

Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake, Thirteen Assassins) had a major hit at the end of 2012 with this film which audiences flocked to and critics praised. It looks like the type of film I would love. The film is based on a novel written by Yusuke Kishi who has twice won the Japan Horror Associated Award. It stars Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaidou who blew me away in Himizu

Seiji Hasumi (Ito) is a popular teacher at a high school. His attractive smile and friendly demeanour masks the beating heart of a psychopath. A psychopath who will stop at nothing to make his school perfect including killing his students.


Number 10 Blues/Goodbye Saigon sounds like one of those films rescued from obscurity. A road movie/Vietnam war film about a Japanese businessman who decides to flee the country with his lover, this is a genre action film shot in Vietnam and it was to be the directorial debut of Norio Osada, a scriptwriter who had worked with Kinji Fukasaku (Battles Without Honour or Humanity, Battle Royale) but when funding dried up the film was never finished and sat in the National Film Centre of Japan. It was rediscovered recently and the film was completed. Now cinephiles can see it at the festival.

Inori is directed by Pedro González-Rubio and is a documentary about a mountain village which looks to be on the set of collapse. Despite being located in a beautiful mountainous area the lack of work has driven young people away ad only a few old people remain. The village will soon be reclaimed by nature and this documentary records the area, the few old people remaining and their thoughts.


Penance                   Shokuzai Drama Poster

Japanese Title: 贖罪

Romaji: Shokuzai

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 stars a collection of some of the best actresses in Japan including Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo SonataAdrift in Tokyo), Sakura Ando (Love ExposureCrime or Punishment?!?), Yu Aoi (Memories of MatsukoAll About Lily Chou-Chou), Eiko Koike (Kamikaze Girls2LDK) and Chizuru Ikewaki (Haru in The Cat Returns). It has appeared at Toronto and Venice film festivals.


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.

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International Film Festival Rotterdam

So the Rotterdam Film Festival ends today…

My interest in Rotterdam stretches back to the early 2000’s when I first discovered Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s horror work. Rotterdam was frequently the festival in which his films and those of other Japanese directors would get an international premiere. 2012’s Rotterdam saw the only one major Japanese premiere (unless I missed something which is always a possibility…) but what a film…

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Release Date: 11th February, 2o12

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takeharu Sakurai, Yukiko Ohguchi

Starring: Hiroki Narimiya, Takumi Saito, Mirei Kiritani, Akiyoshi Nakao, Shunsuke Daito, Akira Emoto, Rei Dan, Mitsuki Tanimura, Ryo Ishibashi

I reported this earlier in the week for another website so here’s the brief version: Rotterdam was where the world premiere of Takashi Miike’s adaptation of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney took place.



In the near future, serious crime is on the rise and in response the justice system has changed the rules of court-room trials:

Cases last a maximum of three days and sentences are usually imposed immediately.

This change has led to exciting face-offs between public prosecutors and defenders who have to score points with the judge rapidly in order to win the case.

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