Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020 Preview – Joy and Despair in Japanese Cinema

The Japan Foundation announced the details of their Touring Film Programme for 2020. The tour lasts from January 31st to March 29th and the theme that connects them all is “love”. The films look at the emotions of joy and despair and, presumably, there will be every other emotion in between as people seek happiness. According to the organisers, there are stories of “love, social inclusion, the resilience of humankind through times of hardship, and unconventional paths to achieving and maintaining joy”.

Here are the films:

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Lying to Mom 鈴木家の嘘 Dir: Katsumi Nojiri, Japan, (2018) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

Lying to Mom  The Suzuki_s Family Lie Film Poster

鈴木家の嘘 Suzukike no Uso

Release Date: November 16th, 2018

Duration: 133 mins.

Director:  Katsumi Nojiri

Writer: Katsumi Nojiri (Screenplay),

Starring: Hideko Hara, Mai Kiryu, Ryo Kase, Ittoku Kishibe, Nao Omori, Kayoko Kishimoto, Nahoko Yoshimoto, Shohei Uno, Chiaki Kawamo, 

Website IMDB

Katsumi Nojiri has had a long career working as an assistant director on a diverse array of films such as the comedies Seto and Utsumi (2016) and Thermae Romae II (2014) as well as dictionary drama The Great Passage (2013). For his directorial debut he harnesses a touch of comedy to craft a heartfelt film that is sadly inspired by the death of his own brother. In Lying to Mom, he unpacks all of the difficulties surrounding suicide felt by one suburban family and captures some of the difficult dynamics that play in addressing sensitive topics.

The suburban family at the heart of the story are the Suzuki clan which consists of father Sachio (Ittoku Kishibe), mother Yuko (Hideko Hara), son Koichi (Ryo Kase) and daughter Fumi (Mai Kiryu). They seem normal with Sachio being a bit of a hands-off patriarch, Yuko running the household as a devoted mother and Fumi being a university student but Koichi is a hikikomori and, apart from brief spells in odd jobs, has struggled to step outside of his room after graduating from university. One day, whatever is weighing him down finally becomes too much to bare and he hangs himself in his room.

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A Preview of the New York Asian Film Festival 2019

The New York Asian Film Festival 2019 launches at the end of the month and there are 11 films from Japan to get excited about.

New York Asian Film Festival 2019 Film Festival PosterThe films that come from Japan range from an exciting-looking jidai-geki based on real history to adaptations of manga based in contemporary times. A lot of films are currently on the festival circuit but there are a couple that have yet to be released anywhere, even Japan. The styles and stories are all varied and seem to give a good idea of what mainstream Japanese cinema is creating.

It’s exciting to see that two of SABU’s latest films, jam and MR LONG, are on the programme as both films have idols but put them through their acting paces in action-packed and dramatic tales. Fly Me to the Saitama is said to be a heck of a lot of fun as it mixes great comedy and theatricality with a satire of Japanese society. There is a noir with The Gun which took a top prize at last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. Then there is The Fable which looks absolutely bananas – an adaptation of a hitman manga which is worth reading!

There are also guests coming from Japan such as Nana Komatsu who is the joint recipient of the Screen International Rising Star Asia Award so do make sure to make them feel welcome.

Also programmed are a selection of films from across the rest of Asia and these include some great titles like Maggie (South Korea) – winner of the Audience Award and the Grand Prix at the Osaka Asian Film Festival – and its director Yi Ok-Seop will be in New York. Still Human (Hong Kong) also plays at the fest and lead actress Crisel Consunji is attending. Also, legendary action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

What are the Japanese films programmed?

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Japanese Films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 (April 26th to May 4th)

The Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 runs from April 26th to May 4th and has a lot to offer audiences eager for the latest in Asian cinema. This year’s edition has a special on retrospective on Korean cinema entitled ‘100 Years Of Korean Cinema’, which has 23 films programmed, and organisers are also going to hand Hong Kong star Anthony Wong the Golden Mulberry Award for Outstanding Achievement. Two of his film, Wong’s debut My Name Ain’t Suzie (1985) and the recent Still Human (2018), will also be screened.

Indeed, there are a few films I’ve already seen as part of work in Osaka with The Crossing and Still Human being my absolute must-recommends. From Japan, there are nine films in total, a few from the festival circuit such as a collection of political dystopian tales, Ten Years Japan, and Melancholic, an acerbic workplace comedy involving onsen and contract killers.

On top of film screenings, there’s also the industry side of things and Focus Asia 2019, a section where 15 projects are mainlined for international co-productions by a group of judges, has selected two Japanese projects, the first an offshoot of Ten Years Japan, Plan 75, by Chie Hayakawa and produced by Eiko Mizuno-Gray, and the second looks totally new. The Convenience Store features the film critic Mark Schilling (Japan Times), producer Emi Ueyama (Wasted Eggs, At the Terrace) and director Satoshi Miki (Adrift in Tokyo).

That was an unwieldy paragraph. On to the trailers!

Here is what on offer:

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