Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 – This is My Place – Carving out a sense of existence and belonging in Japanese Cinema (Online Special)

Whenever the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme rolls around, I end up doing posts on Anime UK News (AUKN) and my blog. Earlier this month, I published a preview on AUKN and now it’s time for my blog!

A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語  Film Image 5

Here are the headlines:

  • This year’s programme is totally online and totally FREE to view for people in the UK,
  • There are 18 films (one anime, no documentaries or shorts),
  • Screening dates have been announced (keep checking the Japan Foundation’s SNS to get info on screening links),
  • So far, no word on guests.

Here is the preview but with my own data format for the films.

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Room For Let    貸間あり Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1959)

Room For Let   貸間あり Film Poster

貸間あり Kashima Ari

Running Time: 112 mins.

Release Date: June 02nd, 1959

Director: Yuzo Kawashima

Writer: Giichi Fujimoto, Yuzo Kawashima (Screenplay), Masuji Ibuse (Original Novel),

Starring: Frankie Sakai, Nobuko Otowa, Ikio Sawamura, Etsuko Ichihara, Takeshi Kato, Chikage Awashima, Chieko Naniwa, Shoichi Ozawa,

IMDB

This comedy gem was programmed by Britain’s Japan Foundation for their 2018 Touring Film Programme to celebrate the centenary of Yuzo Kawashima (1918 – 1963), a master Yuzo Kawashimaof satire who was little-known outside of Japan until around the 2010s when festivals like Berlin started programming restored prints of his films. The Japan Society in New York also recently screened a number of his films so his profile is rising. Closer to the UK it is hard to get many of his titles but we have one film at least, “Bakumatsu Taiyoden” (1957), which was released via Eureka’s Masters of Cinema label and it proved to be a funny ensemble comedy set during the Bakumatsu period when the shogunate was coming to an end. This historical setting is, according to experts, an outlier for what Kawashima was known for which was telling tales tragedy and comedy in the lives of ordinary people in post-war Japan, a nation in flux as people returned from colonies and front-lines, emerged from rubble-strewn streets and charred houses, to find a more liberal set of ideas taking root in the home islands with traditional social structures being modernised, cities being rebuilt, and everybody on the make. Indeed, it seems Room For Let is more representative of his output and some suggest it even goes as far as to act as a link between the formalised Golden Age of cinema and the New Wave as the chaotic sense of change and oddball personalities are captured on screen with class and plenty of ribald humour. Seeing it as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 with a friend was great but having the privilege of seeing a rare 35mm print was fantastic as we were taken back in time to 1950s Osaka!

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Joy of Man’s Desiring 人の望みの喜びよ  Dir: Masakazu Sugita (2014)

Joy of Man’s Desiring   Joy of Man's Desiring Film Poster

人の望みの喜びよ  Hitono Nozomino Yorokobiyo

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Masakazu Sugita

Writer: Masakazu Sugita (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayane Omori, Riku Ohishi, Naoko Yoshimoto, Koichiro Nishi

Website    IMDB

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, Director Masakazu Sugita put into production a film dedicated to the orphans left behind after natural disasters. It was something he had long planned since he himself was a survivor of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and was only 14 years old at the time. The result is Joy of Man’s Desiring, a gentle yet deeply powerful human drama which received Special Mention at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, as well as being nominated for the Best First Feature Award in 2014.

The story revolves around two siblings, twelve-year-old Haruna (Ayane Omori) and her brother, five-year-old Shota (Riku Ohishi). When an earthquake strikes their town, their house collapses and buries their family alive. Haruna was able to escape but was unable to save her parents while Shota survived by some miracle.

Joy of Man's Desiring Film Image

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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 Preview – (Un)true Colours Secrets and Lies in Japanese Cinema

The 2018 Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (February 02nd to March 28th) has had its line-up of films revealed by the organisers and its a veritable feast of excellent contemporary titles with a classic and an anime added which looks/is fantastic respectively. I’ll come out cheering for The Long Excuse which is just fantastic. I cannot recommend this film enough. There’s also Sword of the Stranger which is pure action thrills, and Joy of Man’s Desiring and Room for Let which look exquisite. What’s the theme behind all of these films? Here’s more from the organisers:

Everybody has once told a lie or kept something hidden from others. Whether for good intentions or otherwise, it is a fundamental and intriguing aspect of human nature which has provided inspiration to countless storytellers and filmmakers.

With diverse cinematic voices, The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018 features some of the best examples of cinema from Japan and will look at how the country’s filmmakers have been drawn to portraying the “(un)true” colours of human nature. The twists and turns of life portrayed in the programme are at times heart-rending, at other times hilarious, but always enthralling.

Without further ado, here are the films!

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