Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival Workshop and Talks with Award-Winning Animator Takeshi Yashiro and Producer Satoshi Akutsu in the UK

Cardiff’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Japan Foundation have teamed up to host award-winning stop-motion animator Takeshi Yashiro and his producer Satoshi Akutsu on a tour of the UK as they take part in talks and a stop-motion animation workshop.

On October 05th, the two men will show their latest collaboration, Gon, The Little Fox (2019) at a Masterclass and will talk about their careers as Yashiro explains why he chooses to work in stop-motion and how he makes his movies. Satoshi Akutsu presents an equally interesting talk considering he has extensive experience in the role of producer for a variety of projects in Japan and America, having worked with Japanese broadcaster NHK, animation production house Madhouse, and DVD distributor Geneon Universal.

Here’s a trailer for their latest work Gon, The Little Fox, an adaptation of the classic 1932 children’s story about the fateful encounter between a farmer and a mischievous fox.

On October 06th, Yashiro will lead a stop-motion workshop where attendees can animate their own scene with actual puppets used by Yashiro in the film. It is open to people from the age 8 and up at the cost of £27 (for booking please contact the festival info@kotatsufestival.com).

Following their stint in Cardiff, the two men will be in London for a special talk.

Takeshi Yashiro is a graduate from Tokyo University of the Arts who got his career started making CMs and studied different stop-motion techniques in his spare time until he decided to go full-time with the style in 2012 with his debut Dear November Boy (2012). He’s had a string of award-winning films like Norman the Snowman The Northern Light and Firewood, Kanta & Grandpa (both 2013) and Moon of a Sleepless Night (2015), which won the Japan Competition Best Short Award at the Short Shorts Film Festival 2016 (source).

Commenting on the win, Yashiro said about stop-motion,

“The best thing about using stop motion animation is that the characters and the set really “exist” in front of the camera. Though technology has enabled CG to create brilliant images these days, it is still worthwhile using stop motion pictures because the audience can feel everything being there and sense the texture of the materials. In this sense, stop motion films are developed from art design. While sculptors interpret the world by capturing single moments of objects, I like to animate figures to show my interpretation of the world. I hope you will enjoy the story and I’d be glad if you could spare a few moments to think about the art design in the film.”

Here are the events and dates:

Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival (October 05th and 06th at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff)
Japan Foundation in London (October 07th, 18:30 at the Courthouse Hotel Cinema in London)

Japan Foundation’s Film Screenings: “Summer Explorers!” 2019

The Japan Foundation and British Library are working together to put on a series of film screenings for Japan Foundation’s annual Summer Explorers season in London. I posted about the fantastic line-up for Pre-Summer Explorers! last month and now audiences can enjoy another series of over the top, offbeat narratives featuring psychic shenanigans and epic high school politics in a collection called:

Summer Explorers 2019 : Manga Comes To Life – Live Action Japanese Film Based on Manga

These films are taken from manga and brought to life in highly cinematic ways – apart from Setoutsumi which looks like one extended conversation but I have been informed that it is absolutely hilarious.

Presented and Curated by the Japan Foundation, in collaboration with the British Library (website for the event), here are the location and date details:

Date: 27 July 2019 – 28 July 2019
Venue: British Library, Knowledge Centre Theatre, 96 Euston Road, St Pancras, London NW1

The cost to view the films is around £8.

Here are the films:

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Film Screenings: “Summer Explorers!” 2019″

Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More

The Japan Foundation in London have set up their annual Summer Explorers films season with a fun build-up of titles that feature titles from masterful directors both old – Takeshi Kitano and Seijun Suzuki – and new – Masaaki Yuasa. There is even a fun indie film thrown in. It’s really diverse and totally free! All you need to do is book your place!

Here’s some hype and information from the Japan Foundation:

“From wacky time-travel to ancient Rome (Thermae Romae) and a musical extravaganza set in feudal Japan (Princess Raccoon), to a slapstick twist on the film noir genre of the 60’s (Murder Un-Incorporated) – our annual Pre-Summer Explorers season aims to make you shake and cry with laughter while presenting the multi-faceted and unique sense of humour in Japanese cinema!”

Dates: 26 June 2019 – 30 June 2019
Venues:
Screen 1, The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH London

and

Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY London

See the Japan Foundation website for more information or click on the links below.

What are the films?

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Free London Screenings of “The Night is Short Walk on Girl” and More”

Tanaka Kinuyo: Nation, Stardom and Female Subjectivity – Free Japan Foundation Event

The Wandering Princess Film Image

The Japan Foundation have set up a series of free events celebrating the publication of the book Tanaka Kinuyo: Nation, Stardom and Female Subjectivity. There will be a film screening as well as a book launch. Both will be important for understanding an important figure in pre- and post-war Japanese cinema.

Continue reading “Tanaka Kinuyo: Nation, Stardom and Female Subjectivity – Free Japan Foundation Event”

Japan Foundation’s Free Film Screenings: “Summer Explorers!”

The Japan Foundation in London are putting on a series of free film screenings the first of which I posted about yesterday – Pre-Summer Explorers! – and this is the second series of screenings which has three films that aren’t screened in the UK all that often, or at all! Just click on the title to be taken through to the page to book tickets.

Sunday 12th August 2018: Courthouse Hotel Cinema
19-21 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HL

His Master’s Voice   Mouichido Film Poster

もういちど  「Mo ichido」

Release Date: August 23rd, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Hiroyuki Itaya

Writer: Hiroyuki Itaya (Screenplay/Original Story),

Starring: Nayuta Fukuzaki, Gori, Taihei Hayashiya, Mami Kumagai, Hisashiro Ogura, Momoka Ohno, Yasuko Tomita,

IMDB   Website

This film will be screened twice on August 12th, 14:00 and 18:40.

Synopsis: A, Edo Period drama focussing on the comic storytelling art of Rakugo, the story begins when Sadakichi (Nayuta Fukuzaki) returns home to take a holiday from his work after being bullied there. In order to cheer up their little son, his parents ask their gloomy looking neighbour, Taihei (Taihei Hayashiya), a former Rakugo storyteller, to give a performance for him. Sadakichi is deeply moved by his performance and hopes to become Taihei’s apprentice and learn the art.

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s Free Film Screenings: “Summer Explorers!””

Japan Foundation’s “Pre-Summer Explorers!” Free Film Screenings in August

The Japan Foundation are running their Summer Explorers full of anime and live-action films that are set during the summer. This is a free event which you have to register for. I repeat, this is a free event. Free films!!! To find out more about it, visit the Japan Foundation’s website.

Saturday, 4 August 2018: Soho Hotel Cinema
4 Richmond Mews (via Richmond Buildings), London, W1D 3Dh

NHK WORLD DOUBLE BILL PART ONE

A Tale of Love & Honour: Life in Gion
Dir. Maki Kubochi, 2017, 49min

Take a peek into the distinct district of Gion in Kyoto and witness the proud and wistful stories of people belonging to this secret world in this fascinating documentary from NHK WORLD-JAPAN.

Living Ninja Legend Masaaki Hatsumi
Dir. Fuyuhiko Nishi, 2016, 41 min

Masaaki Hatsumi, 84 years old, is a living ninja in modern times. What is the essence of his astonishing art? This documentary investigates the hidden power of this ninja master.

House    House Film Poster

ハウス 「Hausu」

Released: July 30th, 1977 (Japan)

Running time: 88 mins.

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi,

Writer: Nobuhiko Obayashi, Chiho Katsura (Screenplay),

Cast: Kimiko Ikegami – Oshare,  Miki Jinbo – Kung-Fu, Kuniko Oba – Fantasy, Ai Matsubara – Prof., Kiyohiko Ozaki – Mr. Togo, Yoko Minamida – Auntie,

IMDB

The highlight, in my opinion. This film is a riot of fun and good music with a haunted house setting to die for as a bunch of girls will find out. It comes from Nobuhiko Obayashi and his daughter and features so much imagination and flair for visual spectacle and cool music that it is a delight to watch. I highly recommend it. Here’s my review.

Synopsis: The summer holidays have arrived and for seven high school girls named Melody, Prof, Sweetie, Kung-fu, Mac, Fantasy and Oshare (Kimiko Ikegami) they have the chance to go camping with their teacher Mr. Togo. Oshare declines because her father is back from Italy and she’s looking forward to staying at a villa with him. Her plans are ruined when he introduces her to his potential new wife. Oshare is upset at the presence of the woman and decides to visit an eccentric spinster aunt, inviting her friends along for the trip. After a long journey the girls arrive at the aunt’s house but find their presence has triggered a hostile force that immediately attacks them, picking them off one by one while the eccentric aunt watches.

Continue reading “Japan Foundation’s “Pre-Summer Explorers!” Free Film Screenings in August”

Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London

Spring Explorers Header Image

Spring is all about new beginnings and the Japan Foundation has programmed four films for its Spring Explorers screenings. They stretch from 1954 to 2013 and feature characters forced to enter new stages in their lives and even new worlds. Protags range from a little girl who walks on ceilings to a middle-aged man who hasn’t left his family home in years.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “Spring Explorers: Japan Foundation Shows Four Free Films in London”

Close-Knit    彼らが本気で編むときは、 (2017) Dir: Naoko Ogigami

Close-Knit   karera-ga-honki-de-amu-toki-wa-film-poster

彼らが本気で編むときは、Karera ga Honki de Amu toki wa   

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Naoko Ogigami

Writer: Naoko Ogigami (Screenplay),

Starring: Rinka Kakihara, Toma Ikuta, Kenta Kiritani, Mimura, Eiko Koike, Mugi Kadowaki, Lily, Kaito Komie, Shuji Kashiwabara, Misako Tanako,

Website   IMDB

Naoko Ogigami is one of Japan’s most commercially successful female directors. She has built up a large audience at home and abroad following her debut feature film Yoshino’s Barber Shop (2004) which was a winner at Berlin International Film Festival. She followed that up with Kamome Diner (2006), Glasses (2007), and Rent-a-Cat (2012). Her oeuvre could be described as quirky dramas about outsider characters in unusual circumstances but Close-Knit is a lot more serious as Ogigami looks at LGBTQ issues in Japan, a country that is still conservative in some ways, and she does so through the perspective of a child.

Close Knit Film Image 3

Said child is eleven-year-old Tomo (Rinka Kakihara). When we first meet her she is all alone in an apartment where unwashed dishes are piling up in the sink and onigiri wrappers and cup noodle containers are overflowing from the bin. Indeed, a meagre meal of store-bought onigiri is her only option on the menu as she dines solo. She has a mother named Hiromi (Mimura) but when Tomo does see her it is usually when she comes home late and drunk after a day at the office and, presumably, a night at an izakaya. Hiromi is a single-mother struggling to cope with the role but when she finds herself a man she quits her jobs and takes off for who knows how long and little Tomo is pretty much forgotten about.

Continue reading “Close-Knit    彼らが本気で編むときは、 (2017) Dir: Naoko Ogigami”

Japanese Films at the London Film Festival 2017: Naoko Ogigami in Conversation

The London Film Festival is just around the corner and I’ve already got a post about that detailing things such as screenings and A Conversation with Takashi Miike. Here’s something really interesting that has just been announced by the Japan Foundation: Naoko Ogigami will be in conversation with Jasper Sharp during the festival.

Naoko Ogigami Talk Image

The event will take place on October 14th, 2017 from 15:00 at La Médiathèque (Institut Français), 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT. This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To book a place, head over to the Eventbrite website.

Here are more details from the Japan Foundation:

Naoko Ogigami is an award-winning director and scriptwriter, and is considered one of the most commercially successful female filmmakers in Japan. An auteur with a huge domestic following, Ogigami writes and directs all her films with a renowned calming cinematic approach and her films feature recurring themes of culture clashes and characters thrown into unusual circumstances, epitomised in her hit dramas Kamome Diner (2006) and Glasses (2007). Outside of Japan, Ogigami’s work has also been recognised by many international film festivals and her debut feature, Yoshino’s Barber Shop (2004) was a winner at Berlin International Film Festival, inspiring many triumphant returns to the festival since.

In celebration of the UK premiere of her latest feature Close-Knit at the BFI London Film Festival, the Japan Foundation has invited Ogigami to reflect on her unique cinematic style and career to date. Having worked on a number of productions both in Japan and the United States, Ogigami will discuss how her experience of diaspora influenced her approach to filmmaking and the current climate for female filmmakers both in Japan and overseas. Ogigami will be joined in conversation by curator and writer Jasper Sharp.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the London Film Festival 2017: Naoko Ogigami in Conversation”

Extra J-Food Film Screening of A Tale of Samurai Cooking at Rich Mix on August 26th

Prepare Yourself for Another Helping of Samurai Cooking! The Japan Foundation in London recently ran two events dedicated to Japanese food and they proved to be super popular. Well, good news! The organisers have announced that there will be one more free film screening of A Tale of Samurai Cooking – A True Love Story due to the insatiable appetites of J-film fans. It will take place at the Rich Mix cinema on August 26th at 12:00. Tickets were quickly snapped up for the film’s first showing so you had better book now to avoid disappointment!

A Tale of Samurai Cooking Extra Screening Continue reading “Extra J-Food Film Screening of A Tale of Samurai Cooking at Rich Mix on August 26th”