Shorts Night “Women Now” at the Korean Cultural Centre on July 27th

The Korean Cultural Centre in London is hosting another series of free film screenings and this one is called, Patchworks: Unwrapping My Korean Cinema. It is the final season of 2017’s Korean Film Nights and just like the last season, there are films being screened for free at the Korean Cultural Centre every Thursday.

The previous screening was It’s Not Her Sin, a black and white film from the ’50s. This week is Shorts Night: “Women Now” and this is totally up-to-date in terms of the representation of Korea and Koreans on screen. Audiences will have the chance to see six short films looking at the experiences of females in Korea from childhood to old age. They have been made by men and women, Koreans and expats, international co-productions and an animation made in Britain and they offer a huge range of stories

Here’s information on the first film in this season as pulled from the website:

Continue reading “Shorts Night “Women Now” at the Korean Cultural Centre on July 27th”

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017: Short Films – Breathless Lovers, Ping Pang, Summer Night

I don’t often cover short films but they get programmed at Osaka and this year’s crop were too intriguing to miss. They were rather conveniently screened as part of one package despite being in different parts of the programme but with the filmmakers all being around the same age and the quality of the work being high, it is worth writing down a few thoughts in case these guys are part of the new wave For anyone wondering, elsewhere around the festival, women made a huge impact as feature-film directors. It seems Osaka always programmes a lot of work by women without any of the attendant fuss and controversy seen in the West and that’s a good thing.

Continue reading “Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017: Short Films – Breathless Lovers, Ping Pang, Summer Night”

Japanese Films at The London International Animation Festival 2015

The London International Animation Festival takes place at the Barbican Cinema and lasts from December 04th to 13th. 200 animated short and feature films have been selected from the 2,400 entries that were submitted to the festival and there are many from Japan. The festival organisers have programmed the Japanese films in several categories including the International Competition Programmes. Here’s a glimpse of what’s on offer:

Continue reading “Japanese Films at The London International Animation Festival 2015”

Japanese Films at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival

Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 Logo

Canada is awesome. Two film festivals and both featuring lots of excellent films! The first Canadian film festival I’m thinking about is the Toronto International Film Festival which had a plethora of great titles and that one finished yesterday. The second film festival I’m thinking about is The Vancouver International Film Festival which kicks off on September 25th and finishes on October 10th. It features a lot of Japanese films and Tony Rayns has written up about them.

As ever, the titles link to the festival pages which have more information such as times and prices and fuller descriptions.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival”

Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013

Genki BFI London Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 57th BFI London Film Festival is running from Wednesday 09th October to Sunday 20th October, a mere week after the end of the Raindance Film Festival. The London Film Festival programme was announced earlier today and the Japanese selection is rather good. The big news for me is that Sion Sono’s latest film, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? has been selected to play! Other entries include Yuya Ishii’s Great Passage and Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son. The latter was probably the most obvious choie for inclusion but it’s great to see Ishii getting noticed.

Here are the films (click on the titles for more info like dates and times):

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?           Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Running Time: 126 mins

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is coming to the UK? OHMYGOD! YES! SONOOOOOO is here and the day is won. So does this prove that if I cry loud enough and often enough about something, some big festival will pick it up? Because I posted about three different versions of the trailer before it was screened at Venice and then Toronto and finally London. I’m a Sion Sono fan and while I may not be the most eloquent, handsome or talented, I at least try to keep track of what he’s doing and covering his titles so it’s gratifying to see that in the year of release I get to see it and on the big screen.  I get to see the blood slide on screen!


He has had a short run of issue films. The critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope are serious dramas that look at the after-effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and radiation in Japan. Now he’s back making entertainment films like Love Exposure and Strange Circus , films that play with cinematic techniques, genre tropes, the audience and are bloody fun. The festival page has this descriptive line: “ingenious slice of high-octane insanity that is both a fresh take on the yakuza film and an affectionate tribute to the death of celluloid.” It forgot to mention the blood slide and the fact it’s probably God-tier entertainment as other reviewers have noted. Check out Bonjour Tristesse’s coverage of the critical reaction from the Venice Film Festival for more. Let’s go!

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other especially since Muto’s wife Shizue (Tomochika) butchered a boss in Ikegami’s gang. She gets sent to prison and jeopardises her daughter’s acting career. Ten years later and days before Shizue is due to be released, Muto is desperate to make his daughter a big-screen star and recruits Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director.

When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji gets a cinephile friend named Hirata (Hasegawa) who dreams of being a movie director and has a ragtag film crew named The Fuck Bombers. Hirata seizes his chance and loses his mind as he casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2013”

The Complex, Maruyama, The Middle Schooler, Buddha Burning Human, Proof of the Child, Leaving on the 15th Spring, Peach Festival Films and Other Trailers and the Movie Box Office Chart

Saturday Touhou StreetAku no Hana/Flowers of Evil was the only post this week but I wanted to let this one have the spotlight for a couple of days because I think the anime is very, very brilliant. I also had to revise for my Japanese test on Wednesday. I think I passed this course but I’m not happy with the way my study habits floundered at points. There is definite room for improvement. No films watched but plenty of anime like Attack on Titan, My Youth RomcomAku no Hana and Red Data Girl. Next Saturday I will be attending a Japan Day Festival, which I posted on AUKN.

What does the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart look like for the weekend May 11th-12th?

  1. Detective Conan Private Eye in the Distant Sea
  2. Phone Call to the Bar 2
  3. Iron Man 3
  4. Prefecture’s Government Hospitality Division
  5. Library Wars
  6. Shield of Straw
  7. Crayon Shin Chan! Gourmet Food Survival
  8. Kamen Rider X Super Sentai X Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z
  9. Saint Young Men
  10. Steins;Gate: The Movie

Major changes in this week’s movie box office standings with three new entries in the top ten from last week’s crop. Saint Young Men comes in at nine, Prefecture’s Government Hospitality Division at four and Phone Call to the Bar 2 resting at two. Detective Conan continue to reign supreme at one for the fourth week in a row while Steins;Gate claws its way back into the top ten at ten.

What is released this week? I say this week because there is a film festival going on in Japan at the moment and they released some titles on the 16th and 18th. There are lots of cool trailers.

Peach Festival Films

Female filmmakers have been on the rise in Japan as well regarded films like Dreams for Sale, End of Puberty and Just Pretended to Hear reveal. To get a better taste of what other young female directors are doing we get a whole festival dedicated to showing the freshest works coming from them. The theme for this year is ‘Tears’. Here are three short films that will be on the big screen.

Peach Festival Presents Tears “Sayonara Mermaid”       Peach Film Festival Poster

Japanese Title: 桃まつり presents なみだ “サヨナラ人魚”

Romaji: Momo Matsuri Presents Namida “Sayonara Ningyo”

Release Date: May 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 48 mins.

Director: Ayaka Kato

Writer: Ayaka Kato (Screenplay)                                                Sayonara Mermaid Film Image

Starring: Kazuha Komiya, Yuta Toda, Katsunori Teraoka, Minori Hagiwara

This is the debut of Ayaka Kato and it has a title which sounds like it could be strange. The trailer is intriguing. Two guys approach a mysterious woman previously seen on a beach. Is she a mermaid? Is she simply suicidal and disturbed? Guys, you better watch out! Mermaids can’t be trusted! Even foxy ones!

Actually this is a film where a woman named Sammy, who is attending a prep school, is in all sorts of relationships with instructors and fellow students and feels emptiness. We then follow a series of encounters with different people. Is this a riff on the Little Mermaid fairy tale and does she go through similar things? Well this short has 48 minutes to develop this story. If Ayaka Kato is skilled enough, it should be enough.


Peach Festival Presents Tears “Itai no Itai no Tonde Ike”Peach Film Festival Poster

Japanese Title: 桃まつり presents “なみだ “いたいのいたいのとんでいけ”

Romaji: Matsuri Presents Namida Itai no Itai no Tonde Ike

Release Date: May 16th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 30 mins.

Director: Miwa Paku

Writer: N/A

Starring: Haruna Okawa, Mari Hayashida, Shioi Kasahara

Pain Fly Away Film Image

I am totally unsure about this title. It looks like Pain of the Pain Fly Away but it sounds totally wrong… Arrgh. Frustration. Anyway, this film comes from Park Miwa who worked on the 3.11 shot-film compilation Tomorrow which gathered together staff originating from the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The story follows Kana, a young girl who is trying to get her parents to reconcile their differences during a domestic conflict. The biggest name for me is Mari Hayashida who was in Cold Bloom. No trailer.

Leaving on the 15th Spring                               Tabidachi no Shima Uta Film Poster

Japanese Title: 旅立ちの島唄 十五の春

Romaji: Tabidachi no Shima Uta – 15 no Aru

Release Date: May 18th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 114 mins.

Director: Yasuhiro Yoshida

Writer: Yasuhiro Yoshida (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayaka Miyoshi, Shinobu Otake, Karou Kobayashi, Saori Koide, Ryuya Wakaba, Jyo Hyuga,

I listed this one with the incorrect release date of April 17th. Apologies. I was suspicious because the website I got the info from didn’t tally up with another, much more reliable one. Anyway the film trailer didn’t impress me that much on the first run but a review from the Japan Times film review site chalks this up as an impressive feature citing the fact that director, “Yoshida can universalize from the real without turning his people into case studies or stereotypes… Yoshida prefers to speak volumes with nonviolent, emotionally charged suggestion. That is, he brings an understated lyricism to what an ordinary documentary might have reduced to just-the-facts prose.” Ayaka Miyoshi, one of the stars of Good Morning Everyone, last year’s rock film which starred Kumiko Aso, takes the lead in this family drama which examines the lives of a family who are separated from each other due to geographical circumstances.

Minamidaito Island does not have a high school and so when teenagers hit 15 they must head to mainland Japan. Yuna Nakazato (Miyoshi) is about to make the same trip as her two older siblings leaving her father Toshiharu (Kobayashi) behind. She worries about him being left alone but she will be joining her mother Akemi (Otake), sister Mina (Koide) and brother in Naha. With her date of departure looming Yuna feels unease about her future but also has a curiosity about the wider world.

The Complex                                              The Complex Film Poster 2

Japanese Title: クロユリ 団

Romaji: Kuroyuri Danchi

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: May 18th, 2013 (Japan)

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hideo Nakata, Junya Kato, Ryuta Miyake

Starring: Atsuka Maeda, Hiroki Narimiya, Masanobu Katsumura, Naomi Nishida, The Complex PosterSosei Tanaka, Masaya Takahashi, Satomi Tezuka, Taro Suwa, Yurei Yanagi, Megumi Sato, Mayumi Asaka

Hideo Nakata, the director of J-horror classic Ringu and Dark Water returns with another urban supernatural chiller with The Complex which premiered at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival. Reviews suggest this is a return to horror form for the director and the trailer strikes all the right notes for me! It stars the beautiful Atsuka Maeda who is a former member of AKB48 and starred in The Drudgery Train, one of the more interesting titles released in Japan last year.  Hiroki Narimiya, Tooru in Mirror Hell part of Rampo Noir and the titular character in the Phoenix Wright movie Ace Attorney is her male co-star. The supporting cast include Naomi Nishida (Library Wars, Swing Girls) and Megumi Sato (Cyborg She, Exte). First trailer of the week! Go J-hora!

Asuka (Maeda) has moved into the Kuroyuri apartment complex. It is a place with a chequered history as mysterious deaths occurred there 13 years ago. It isn’t long before she starts hearing the sound “garigarigari” from the apartment next door where an old man lives and it isn’t long before he is found dead! This is the start of a series of horrifying events that strike the apartment. Asuka calls upon Sasahara (Narimiya), a man who cleans up the homes of the recently deceased, to help solve the mystery.


Maruyama, The Middle Schooler          Maruyama the Middleschooler

Japanese Title: 中学生 円山

Romaji: Chuugakusei Maruyama

Release Date: May 18th, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 199 mins.

Director: Kankuro Kudo

Writer: Kankuro Kudo (Screenplay)

Starring: Hiroaki Takuma, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Yang Ik-June, Maki Sakai, Toru Nakamura, Nanami Nabemoto, Yuiko Kariya,You, Fumina Hara,Kenji Endo, Tomorowo Taguchi, Maho Nonami

This one is my second trailer of the week. It premiered at the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival last month where it got this review and this more recent Japan Times review makes the film sound really, really funny. Hiraoka Takuma (The Wolf Children) takes the lead in this comedy with Yang Ik-June (Breathless, Our Homeland), Maki Sakai (Paris Tokyo Paysage, The Samurai That Night), You (Nobody Knows, Still Walking), Maho Nonami (2LDK), Tomorowo Taguchi (Tetsuo: The Iron Man) and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, member of J-pop group SMAP and star of Beautiful World. It’s directed by Kankuro Kuda, actor in Memories of Matsuko and Instant Swamp. The trailer is short and reading my synopsis is long but I like the look of this one!

Katsuya Maruyama (Hiraoka) is 14, an age where a boys thoughts are consumed by carnal desires. Only his are strange. He wants to “to touch his own weeny with his tongue.” Perhaps his strangeness is a result of living a mundane life in a housing complex with his mother Mizuki (sakai)), a woman obsessed with Korean dramas, his fitness obsessed father Katsuyuki (Nakamura) and sharing his room with his sister Akane (Nabemoto). There are other, stranger characters around like Tatsuo Shimoi (Kusanagi), a single father who wheels his infant son in a buggy around everywhere and prying into his neighbours lives and irritating housewives and a Korean electrician named Park Hyeon-Hun (Yang Ik-June) who attracts the attention of Mizuki. When bodies start turning up in the apartment complex Maruyama begins to draw a manga about a superhero named Captain Fruit (based on his father) who comes to the rescue. He shares his crazy tales with Shimoi and the line between fantasy and reality become blurred.

   Continue reading “The Complex, Maruyama, The Middle Schooler, Buddha Burning Human, Proof of the Child, Leaving on the 15th Spring, Peach Festival Films and Other Trailers and the Movie Box Office Chart”

Terracotta Festival’s “Asia In London” Short-Film Competition Information

The Terracotta Far East Film Festival is a month away and the line-up of films will be released tomorrow. I have been a bit tardy in posting this information on a short-film competition with the awesome prize of a trip to Hong Kong but there is still plenty of time left to enter.

Here are the details:

Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2013 Logo

Terracotta Festival’s “Asia In London” Short-Film Competition, in association with Cathay Pacific

Terracotta Festival, in association with Cathay Pacific, present an exciting competition to win a trip to the vibrant city of Hong Kong.

Terracotta are partnering with Cathay Pacific to celebrate the launch of their 5th daily London Heathrow to Hong Kong flight. Accommodation is provided by the five star Design Hotels ™ member, The Mira Hong Kong.

To enter the competition, make and submit a short film on the theme: “Asia In London”. The film must last no more than 3 minutes in length.

Submissions are open from Tuesday 23 April and close at 12 noon 20 May.

Continue reading “Terracotta Festival’s “Asia In London” Short-Film Competition Information”

Suu, Mai and Sawa – Righting the Girl Ship, Bad Communication, The Dark System Full Version, Winter Day, Tofu Fa, Fukushima Not Forgotten, Anime Mirai 2013, Mobile Suit Gundam UC: Episode 6 and Other Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office

Little Witch Academia Film ImageAh, I have just arrived home after my commute from work where I encountered two Japanese people by chance and had a good old chat with them. The pluses of public  transport! This week I received Skyfall, the 2LDK/Aragami double release, the Blue Exorcist anime and I Come with the Rain and I am expecting Detroit Metal City soon. As far as movies watched goes I watched Heat After Dark a further two times despite my review giving the impression that I did not rate it that much… I also wrote about Makoto Shinkai’s forthcoming film The Garden of Words and the anime Mysterious Girlfriend X. The former has the potential to be great while the latter wasted its potential to become just another fan-service show.

What do the Japanese charts look like this week (Feb 23/24 2013)?

  1.       A Good Day to Die Hard
  2.       Ted
  3.       The Brain Man
  4.       Les Miserables
  5.       Strrawberry Night
  6.       Life of Pi
  7.       Zero Dark Thirty
  8.      Chair of the Grasslands
  9.       Story of Yonosuke
  10.      Reunion

Well three of the Japanese films released last week (A Story of Yonosuke, Reunion and Chair of the Grasslands) break into the top ten but it is US/UK films that are dominating the charts.

Ah, this week sees the release of Flight and Django Unchained so I guess distributors are holding back big titles and resorting to counter-programming with a real mixed bag of titles… there are quite a few short films released and they have a whole gamut of rising stars of Japan’s directorial world. There are three documentaries, a loot of short films and two indie films while the one big-budget flick issssss now:

Suu, Mai and Sawa – Righting the Girl Ship   Sue, Mai and Sawa - Righting the Girl Ship Film Poster

Japanese Title: すーちゃん まいちゃんさわ子さん

Romaji: Su-chan, Mai-chan, Sawako-san

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 106 mins.

Director: Osamu Minorikawa

Writer: Miri Masuda (Original Manga), Sachiko Tanaka (Screenplay)

Starring: Kou Shibasaki, Yoko Maki, Shinobu Terajima, Hana Kino, Akiko Kazami, Megumi Sato, Aoi Yoshikura, Ai Takabe, Shota Sometani, Arata

Osamu Minorikawa released Jinsei Irodori last year and is back with an adaptation of Miri Masuda’s manga. It stars Kou Shibasaki (One Missed Call, Battle Royale), Yoko Maki (Infection, Battle Royale II, and The Grudge), Shinobu Terajima(Vibrator, The Millennial Rapture) and Megumi Sato (Exte: Hair Extension). The males of the cast are Arata (After Life, Ping Pong) and Shota Sometani (Himizu, Lesson of the Evil). The film is a slice-of-life tale for adult women based on a four-panel gag manga and the trailer starts with a woman crying and not a gunfight or anything that would catch my attention but Rebirth had a trailer that made me uncertain and then I was blown away by it. Plus the review over at the Japan Times is intriguing… If The Japan Foundation screens it I will watch it! And then watch Heat After Dark for a dose of testosterone.

Sue (Shibasaki), Mai (Maki) and Sawako (Terajima) are three former companions who have remained friends. Sue works at a coffee shop and likes her manager. Mai works at an OA machine maker and is in a relationship with a married man and Sawako is a web designer who takes care of her grandmother.

Bad Communication                               Bad Communication Film Poster

Japanese Title: Bad コミュニケーション

Romaji: Bad Comyunike-shon

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 30 mins.

Director: Haruhi Oguri

Writer: Haruhi Oguri (Screenplay)

Starring: Daiki Shiomi, Yoshino Motoyama, Yūta Hashimoto, Yūya Inechū, Ryūto Tanaka, Iemori Nagata,

Haruhi Oguri follows up Toilet and Women (that’s the actual title of a film released last year) with a youth movie depicting a group of friends in a seaside town as they leave school, enter college in Tokyo and experience the death of one of their number. The five leads are new to the acting game. Bad Communication is the title of a song by the cool J-rock group B’z and it reminds me of Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys which was cool. Random thoughts ended. the trailer doesn’t really interest me as much as the one for Toilet and Women.

The Dark System Full Version                        Dark System Film Poster

Japanese Title: Bad ダークシステム 完全版

Romaji: Da-ku Shisutemu Kanzenhan

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Shūji Yuki

Writer: Shūji Yuki (Screenplay)

Starring: Makoto Takunomasaki, Katsumi Furuya, Yuko Kamata, Takehiro Kamibaba

Shūji Yuki’s two Dark System short films have been re-edited and re-constructed to make a feature-length film about two friends who split over a girl and soon turn to wire-tapping their homes and even violence. I would watch this if this were a DVD extra. I’m not sure I would go to a cinema to see this.


Here is where the short-films begin:

Winter Day                                Fuyu no Hi/Tofu Fa Film Poster

Japanese Title: 冬の日

Romaji: Fuyu no Hi

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 28 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Kurosaki

Writer: N/A

Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Jun Fubuki, Kenta Uchino, Masayo Umezawa

Movie PAO have produced a second volume of shorts directed by three young directors Fuyu no Hi Snow Film Imagewith the aim of nurturing talent and allowing them to work with industry vets. The directors have got the chance to make whatever they want. The first title is Winter Day which stars Masami Nagasawa (Kiseki) and the great actress Jun Fubuki (Séance, Rebirth). Here’s a funny advert that I found after looking for a trailer. It could be a parody trailer of a dorama what with its music and slice-of-life setting. All Yuko wanted to do was eat oranges but when her father came home something emotional happened 😛

Lisa (Nagasawa) gives up on her dreams of becoming a photographer and heads back to her parent’s photo studio. It is snowing and in the snow she meets a woman (Fubuki) who will reveal a secret about her family.


Tofu Fa                                           Tofu fa Image

Japanese Title: ファの豆腐

Romaji: Fa no Toufu

Release Date: March 02nd, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 40 mins.

Director: Shinji Kuma

Writer: Yuka Honchō (Screenplay)

Starring: Akiko Kikuchi, Sansei Shiomi, Yuki Makoto Miura, Reiko Seno

Another Movie PAO title. The very foxy Akiko Kikuchi who co-starred with Koji Yakusho in last year’s Chronicle of My Mother, takes the lead role of a chef named Asako who runs a tofu shop with her father, who is reunited with a childhood friend which sparks subtle changes in her life. The trailer has segments from other Movie PAO titles but the first one is Tofu Fa like in the trailer above.

Continue reading “Suu, Mai and Sawa – Righting the Girl Ship, Bad Communication, The Dark System Full Version, Winter Day, Tofu Fa, Fukushima Not Forgotten, Anime Mirai 2013, Mobile Suit Gundam UC: Episode 6 and Other Trailers and the Japanese Film Box Office”

Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 2

Genki Rotterdam International Film Festival Banner

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.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013 Part 2”