Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017 – First Programme Highlights Revealed

Fans of Japanese films will know that one of the biggest and best film festivals in the world for such delights is held every May in Germany. It’s called Nippon Connection and this year’s event marks the seventeenth edition.

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. Exactly a month ago today, the organisers teased some of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened. You can count on there being a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce their works to the audience for the first time. According to the organisers, this year’s focus is on documentaries but there are many great dramas that have already been announced.

Here is what has been released so far:

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Third Window Films Release “Lowlife Love” on DVD/Blu-Ray on November 21st

Lowlife Love has been reported on here multiple times. I tracked it from its inception as a Kickstarter Project (which I backed) and then I wrote about it four img_0827times when it featured at a number of prestigious film festivals and got it’s theatrical release in Japan. It has been a long road and I got the chance to watch it at the Tollywood Cinema in Shinjuku after being invited by the film’s producer, the ever-cool Adam Torel. The film was an interesting ride to say the least. I was expecting a comedy but it is dark, a rather grimy expose of some of the horrible things that go on in the world of cinema in Japan. Despite having seen the director Eiji Uchida’s previous film, Greatful Dead, I was taken aback by this. It’s a must-see for anyone who wants a dose of reality. Thankfully it has a veneer of comedy and some great performances to keep it from being unbearable.

I am still in Tokyo and still writing about films and still getting press releases so here’s the information for its UK release on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Here’s the press release:

The first 100% Third Window Films production!
Third Window films team up with GREATFUL DEAD director Eiji Uchida to produce a darkly comic satire of Japan’s no-budget film industry!

Dual format bluray & dvd set out November 21st
Featuring a Making Of, Cast interviews, Deleted Scenes, Alternate ending, Music video, Theatrical Trailer

“A nasty peek at the underbelly of the Japanese independent film scene.” – Screen Anarchy
“Lowlife Love is a fantastic piece of Japanese indie cinema, and a bold offering from the talented and creative Eiji Uchida.” – Eastern Kicks
“Presents uncomfortable truths in sharp, funny ways.” – The Japan Times

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Japanese Films at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival

BFI London Film Festival LogoThe BFI London Film Festival (LFF) has reached 60 years of age and this year’s edition launches on October 05th and ends on October 16th. There are 274 films and Japanese filmmakers have contributed six to that number. Festival favourites Hirokazu Koreeda and Kiyoshi Kurosawa are in town with two features while there are a couple of documentaries, an anime and an anime short named Achoo to make up the rest of the numbers. Some of these have been previewed already for the Vancouver International Film Festival, Cannes, and Berlin and this is a decent line-up for cinephiles who love Japan and those who want to get into a Japanese film or two.

Here’s the line-up!
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Japanese Films at the New York Asian Film Festival 2016

The 2016 New York Asian Film Festival takes place from June 22nd to July 09th and it is the 15th edition of the event. This year’s run features art-house and mainstream films, crime and romance, and a healthy stock of Japanese titles with guests jetting in from Japan! I’ll be reviewing a couple of these so stay tuned.

What’s on the programme?

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Japanese Films at the 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival

EIFF Logo 2016

The 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place in June and it runs from the 15th to the 26th. The programme was revealed today and there is an interesting line-up that mixes classic and contemporary films. Highlights include Satoko Yokohama’s latest, The Actor and indie crime film Ken and Kazu.

What’s on the programme:
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Japan Academy Awards 2015 Results

Japan Academy Awards 2015 Image

The World War II drama The Eternal Zero was the big winner at the 38th Japan Academy Prize award ceremony taking Picture of the year and best director for Takashi Yamazaki. Another big winner from that film is Junichi Okada who won Best Actor for his portrayal of a kamikaze pilot and he also won best supporting actor for the historical drama, A Samurai Chronicle, becoming the first male actor to get two Japan Academy acting awards. Not only that but he won Most Popular Actor.

Rie Miyazawa’s performance as a bank employee in a lurid affair in Daihachi Yoshida’s drama Pale Moon managed to net her Best Actress in a category full of excellent competitors, while Haru Kuroki took best supporting actress.

The Eternal Zero also took many of the technical awards such as lighting and cinematography.

Looking at the nominees and winners, one cannot help but see it as a pretty dull line-up of films designed not to offend anyone (particularly those of a conservative nature).

Here are the nominees with the winners in bold:

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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2015 Preview

The Japan Foundation has announced their Touring Film Programme for 2015 and for the 12th festival the title is, “It Only Happens in the Movies?”

Japan Foundation It Only Happens in the Movies

 

The festival runs from January 30th to March 26th and it aims to provide “an exciting programme of films under the narrative framework of ‘encounters’.” Each film has characters who experience “unusual meetings, plunge into unexpected circumstances and new environments, as well as collide with different generations, ideals and ideas.”

The film line-up has a huge variety of styles, genres, and tones covered from comedy to serious drama and films from various eras with an adult drama set in1950s Japan all the way to one about teens in uni falling in love in contemporary Japan.

Here are the films, scroll down for trailers and more details (the English titles are the links to the pages so click on them for more info):

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2014

BFI London Film Festival Logo

The BFI London Film Festival launches next month and lasts from October 08th to October 19th. It takes place over 12 days in 17 venues and there are 248 films getting screened.

All but one of the films have been released in Japan, played at different festivals around the world and have UK distribution deals in place. Of the films playing, The World of Kanako is the one I’m gunning to see and own on DVD while I’m very intrigued by The Furthest End Awaits, an interesting choice for the festival since it has zero buzz around it in terms of cast/staff and awards and hasn’t been released in Japan yet.

Enough of the preamble, here are the films:

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Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Post Header

The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival launches in just over two weeks and lasts from September 04th to September 14th. As is usually the case, the line-up of films is impressive. I don’t know how Toronto does it but every year they get a selection of great Japanese films. This year there are four films I desperately want to see from three directors I love. Well, three – Sion Sono, Shinya Tsukamoto, and Takashi Miike. All of them have been or are released this year and all from the top end of Japanese commercial cinema. Here are the films:

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Japanese Films at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2014

Edinburgh Film Festival 2014 Logo

The programme of films for this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival was announced on Wednesday and there’s a decent selection of Japanese films. No real surprises since most of these have been at various film festivals (most at Rotterdam) around the world and I have written about ALL of them at some point so I know which I’d want to watch if I had the choice.

For people interested in seeing some of the latest Japanese films who can’t make the Terracotta Far East Film Festival, they would do well to attend Edinburgh which shares Be My Baby an example of the latest trend in Japanese indie filmmaking. Anatomy of a Paperclip got an excellent write-up from Tony Rayns when it was at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. One title that has me super-intrigued is Miss Zombie by Sabu, a film director whose works I first became acquainted with when in high school and reacquainted myself with when I asked a friend to help me procure some of the 90’s titles. This is another title which got critics talking, an original take on the zombie genre.

Here are the Japanese films:

 

Be My Baby     Be My Baby Film Poster

Japanese Title: 恋の渦

Romaji: Koi no Uzu

Screened: 22 June at 20:10, 28 June at 15:00

Running Time: 138 mins

Director: Hitoshi One

Cast: Kenta Niikura, Naoko Wakai, Chihiro Shibata, Yuumi Goto, Aya Kunitake, Hiroki Ueda, Daisuke Sawamura, Kenta Enya,

This Japanese film is a product of the ‘workshop’ indie films that are released nearly every weekend in Tokyo. Be My Baby is a low-budget film shot I four days for under $10,000 in a couple of locations. It is based on a play by award-winning dramatist Daisuke Miura (which was screened at cinemas) and it’s directed by Hitoshi One, director of the big-budget Love Strikes!. It’s a very adult film about the aftermath of a party attended by a group of drop-out twenty-somethings who are all flawed and caught up in damaging relationships. It got its UK premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival and Third Window Films are backing this.

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