Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 2

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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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