A Preview of Japan Cuts 2021 (August 20th – September 02nd)

Japan Cuts Hollywood Header

Japan Cuts runs from August 20th-September 2nd for its 2021 edition. It is a hybrid event with in-person screenings and online screenings via a virtual cinema. There are 8 features that will be screened in a theatre and 21 features and 12 shorts that will screened online across 14 days.

The selection is good as it covers indie and studio features, shorts, both live-action and animated, and a grip of modern classics. This highlight has been split up into the following sections with each of the films and their details. I hope it will help people decide what they want to see:

 In Theatre | Experimental Spotlight | Documentary Focus |Feature Films | Shorts | Classics | Next Generation

Continue reading “A Preview of Japan Cuts 2021 (August 20th – September 02nd)”

Ito, The Goldfish: Dreaming of the Sea, The Dream Manipulator Mugen: Ningyo Jigoku, Body Remember, BanG Dream! Episode of Roselia II:Song I am. Japanese Film Trailers

This is the first in a three-part trailer post because 18 films have been released this weekend.

Ito    Itomichi Film Poster 4

いとみち Itomichi

Release Date: June 25th, 2021

Duration: 92 mins.

Director: Satoko Yokohama

Writer: Satoko Yokohama (Script), Osamu Koshigaya (Original Novel)

Starring: Ren Komai, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mei Kurokawa, Yoko Nishikawa, Mayuu Yokota, Ayumu Nakajima, Daimaou Kosaka, Shohei Uno,

Website IMDB OAFF

Winner of the Grand Prix and Audience Award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021, Ito is the first solo feature film from director Satoko Yokohama since her 2015 drama The ActorHer cinematic return is set in Aomori Prefecture, the birthplace of Yokohama and also of the film’s lead actress Ren Komai.

I saw this as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival earlier this year. I found it a charming film. You can read my review here and my interview with the director, Satoko Yokohama, here.

Synopsis: High schooler Ito Soma (Ren Komai) is gangly girl who hails from Itayanagi, a small town outside Hirosaki city. She has a timid nature and a thick Tsugaru accent which makes her sound a bit like a hick. However, far from being a hayseed, Ito is very knowledgeable about her local culture and dialect and she can also play the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument that is particularly popular in Aomori. This skill is something she picked up from her grandmother (Yoko Nishikawa) and a massive part of the few memories she holds of her late mother, a talented shamisen player in her own right. Alas, Ito refuses to practice and stays silent due to her embarrassment over her country roots and also her melancholy over never having known her mother. However, it is through fully embracing these factors that Ito can eventually unlock her ability to express herself. What puts the girl on the path of self-acceptance and self-expression is an unlikely job at a maid café in Hirosaki City. 

Continue reading “Ito, The Goldfish: Dreaming of the Sea, The Dream Manipulator Mugen: Ningyo Jigoku, Body Remember, BanG Dream! Episode of Roselia II:Song I am. Japanese Film Trailers”

Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2021 (June 24 – July 02nd)

Following on from last year’s edition which was totally online, the Udine Far East Film Festival takes place at the end of the month and it is a hybrid event with an online portion leading off before the physical portion. The organisers will screen a total of 63 films from 11 countries and territories as well as host workshops, webinars, and other industry events.

The digital portion of the festival will open with explosive Hong Kong action film Shock Wave 2, from veteran director Herman Yau, while the on-site opening film will be the international festival premiere of Zhang Yimou’s Cliff Walkers, a historical espionage thriller.

The information for online screenings is already up and quite a few titles are available for people to stream worldwide. Check this website for more information on the films and this page for more information on how to participate.

I’ve only covered a couple of films prior to this edition – Keep Rolling and Ito, both of which I’d recommend. I’m going to list the Japanese films in this post:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2021 (June 24 – July 02nd)”

Hawaii International Film Festival 2021’s J-Fest Film Program (May 13 -23)

Hawaii International Film Festival’s will launch their first ever J-Fest Film Program. This is a 10-day event that will feature 7-8 new Japanese films and Q&As with the films’ directors as well as a special live panel discussion about the evolution of Japanese music using the films as inspiration. Check each of the film’s pages via the festival site to see who gets a Q&A and how to book tickets.

These are all online screenings. Individual tickets cost $8 and a season pass costs $45. This festival is only available to stream in the US and some films are restricted to certain states.

What are the films that have been programmed?

Continue reading “Hawaii International Film Festival 2021’s J-Fest Film Program (May 13 -23)”

An Interview with Satoko Yokohama, Director of “Ito” [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

While getting a World Premiere in the Competition section of Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021 would be a sign of quality for director Satoko Yokohama and her film Ito, her work ended up taking two high-profile accolades at the event as judges awarded it the Grand Prix (Best Picture Award) and viewers selected it for the Audience Award. These wins are richly deserved as Ito laces a youth film and a heartfelt tribute to all-things Aomori around a charming central performance from rising actress Ren Komai (駒井蓮).

In the film, Komai plays Ito Soma, a high school girl who lives with her father (Etsushi Toyokawa – 豊川悦司) and maternal grandmother (Yoko Nishikawa – 西川洋子) in a small town just outside Hirosaki city, Aomori. Ito embodies various aspects of the local culture, from having a thick Tsugaru accent to an innate skill in playing the Tsugaru shamisen, an ability inherited from her late mother.  Alas, Ito refuses to practice and stays silent due to her embarrassment over her country roots and also her melancholy over never having known her mother. What puts the girl on the path of self-acceptance and self-expression is an unlikely job at a maid café where she meets a coterie of kind people who offer encouragement and get her to embrace her cultural and family heritage on her own terms. You can read my review here

The film is based on a novel by Osamu Koshigaya and while its Japanese title “Itomichi” was shortened to “Ito” for the international version, the story still communicates all of the charms of Aomori. It is the latest project from Satoko Yokohama (横浜聡子), a graduate of the Film School of Tokyo who independently produced her first feature German + Rain (2007) which won the Directors Guild of Japan Newcomer Award. Next came Bare Essence of Life (2009) and The Actor (2015) which have both been screened at international festivals. Both she and lead actress Ren Komai hail from Aomori Prefecture, the setting of the film and audiences will be able to detect their knowledge and closeness really brought out deep details and atmosphere.

Director Yokohama kindly took part in an interview where she talked about adapting the novel, working with Ren Komai to get a moving portrayal of the main character plus an impressive shamisen performance, and what it means to be a filmmaker from Aomori and returning there to shoot a film. 

Satoko Yokohama at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021 Satoko Yokohama at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021

This interview was done through the translation skills of Takako Pocklington and the film/festival staff who set everything up.

Continue reading “An Interview with Satoko Yokohama, Director of “Ito” [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]”

Ito いとみち Director: Satoko Yokohama (2021) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Ito    Itomichi Film Poster

いとみち Itomichi

Release Date: June 25th, 2021

Duration: 92 mins.

Director: Satoko Yokohama

Writer: Satoko Yokohama (Script), Osamu Koshigaya (Original Novel)

Starring: Ren Komai, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mei Kurokawa, Yoko Nishikawa, Mayuu Yokota, Ayumu Nakajima, Daimaou Kosaka, Shohei Uno,

Website IMDB OAFF

Winner of the Grand Prix and Audience Award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021, Ito is the first solo feature film from director Satoko Yokohama since her 2015 drama The Actor. Her cinematic return, following a stint in TV, is an adaptation of the first of Osamu Koshigaya’s series of three youth novels that were serialised and published between 2011 to 2016. His novels find their setting in Aomori Prefecture, the birthplace of Yokohama and also of the film’s lead actress Ren Komai.

There must have been an attraction to working on a project that is so close to home and it feels as if their intimate knowledge of Aomori’s way of life helps make more unique and meaningful its heart-warming comedy drama about a teenage girl who finds her voice through maid cafes and shamisen.

Itomichi Film Ren Komai and Mei Kurokawa

Continue reading “Ito いとみち Director: Satoko Yokohama (2021) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]”

Ito, Crazy Samurai Musashi, Flying Rabbit in the Night Sky, Terrolun and Lunlun, Given (movie) and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone.

Tamon Gamble Maika

I hope you are well.

This week, I posted about the Venice International Film Festival, a review for Milocrorze: A Love Story and a short preview of Summer of Horror Hiho which I have included below.

Summer of Horror Hiho

Summer of Horror Hiho is running for another year and goes live from Summer of Horror Hiho Film Festival 2020 PosterAugust to September in TokyoKineka  Oomori (August 21st – September 03rd) in Shinagawa ward; Nagoya: Cinema SKHole (August 29th – September 18th) in Nakamura ward; Osaka: Theater Seven (August 27th – September 04th) in Yodogawa ward. The main features of this fest are new Japanese horror movies, a celebration of director Mario Bava with a screening of four of his films and a revival screening of The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974).

I have included the two Japanese films from the fest in this trailer post.

Here are the films:

Continue reading “Ito, Crazy Samurai Musashi, Flying Rabbit in the Night Sky, Terrolun and Lunlun, Given (movie) and Other Japanese Film Trailers”