The 2023 edition of the Rotterdam International Film Festival will take place from January 25th to February 05th. This is the 52nd year of the festival and it has a special two-projector video work by Steve McQueen called Sunshine State which looks fascinating. In terms of Japanese film, there is a wealth on offer that covers experimental, documentary, drama, and more. There is a whole strand dedicated to the works of animator Masaaki Yuasa and one dedicated to experimental filmmaker Junichi Okuyama.
This year’s ticket sales start on Friday 20th January at 20:00.
Below is a list of features and shorts that have been programmed:
Through ten years of writing on this blog I have made friends and watched lots of great films. Indeed, I’ve covered a quite a range of titles and, as the years progressed, actually got involved with film culture through writing for magazines and other websites, doing festival press work at the likes of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival as well as doing plenty of writing like interviews at UK festivals like Raindance, Terracotta and the London Film Festival. It has almost always been fun and I’ve even had the chance to live and travel in Japan. I can honestly say this blog has been amazing for me by helping me make friends and find my voice in this world.
So, thanks to film and writing about it, I’ve had a fun time. Indeed, sometimes the process of writing about films has been just as much fun as the viewing experience and now I want to highlight my fifteen favourite films to watch and also write about.
Strap yourself in and turn on some music for the ramblings of a film fan:
The Japan Foundation in London have set up their annual Summer Explorers films season with a fun build-up of titles that feature titles from masterful directors both old – Takeshi Kitano and Seijun Suzuki – and new – Masaaki Yuasa. There is even a fun indie film thrown in. It’s really diverse and totally free! All you need to do is book your place!
Here’s some hype and information from the Japan Foundation:
“From wacky time-travel to ancient Rome (Thermae Romae) and a musical extravaganza set in feudal Japan (Princess Raccoon), to a slapstick twist on the film noir genre of the 60’s (Murder Un-Incorporated) – our annual Pre-Summer Explorers season aims to make you shake and cry with laughter while presenting the multi-faceted and unique sense of humour in Japanese cinema!”
Dates: 26 June 2019 – 30 June 2019 Venues:
Screen 1, The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH London
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY London
See the Japan Foundation website for more information or click on the links below.
This is the year when I try and give a little boost to smaller film festivals and the Japannual Japanese Film Festival in Vienna deserves one. The Austrian-Japanese Society is trying to bring some great films to the nation’s capital.
This could turn into a laborious cut-and-paste job from previous festival’s I’ve covered because I have information on all but four films but I’ll spare you by giving the highlights.
The program has a mix of classic titles restored to new and shiny life, to contemporary films still being talked about in film groups. Some of these have been on the festival circuit for a while there are others that pop up rarely. There are indies that need a push and anime that are too good to miss. I’m going to highlight independent cinema and hard to see classics as well as an anime that is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Japan Cuts 2018 is due to kick off in New York soon! This is the 12th edition of the festival which screens the largest collection of contemporary Japanese films in North America. It runs from JULY 19–29 and there is everything from indies to blockbusters, anime to documentaries and short films, and lots of off-screen action like parties, live music and more over a 10-day festival.
The full list of films can be found here and some features are preceded by short films. There is an impressive list of films covering a variety of topics from refugee-life to the fight for equality by people facing discrimination due to sexual orientation, the desire to create new worlds by travelling to places mainstream films never go, to a much-anticipated adaptation of a popular manga/anime. These films are made by people from different backgrounds and the guests at the festival include a lot of female filmmakers, proving that Japan is a hotbed of talent from all sorts of places.
There will be many guests including legendary screen veteran Kirin Kiki who will receive the 2018 CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film.
The Japanese Film Festival Ireland is back for its 10th year and the event kicks off on April 08th and lasts until the 21st as a diverse programme of films made in Japan over the last year and a half are screened. This list features some of the best films to have been given a release including two titles by Masaaki Yuasa, the hottest talent in anime right now, and also, The Sower, a finely controlled human drama that is both beautiful and haunting. It made me cry every time I watched it. I have watched it around five times! That shows you its power!
A selection of the films will be hosted at each of the venues stretching from Cork, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, Sligo, Waterford and finally to Dundalk over the next month so check out the website to see which venues have which films.
I had the pleasure of watching this as part of the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I also met its director, Yosuke Takeuchi. It’s a fine film, one of the best I have seen in recent years. Its genesis comes from the personal life of the director and also the life of Vincent van Gogh and how the artist lived a humble and naive existence to the full despite the treatment he faced from society. That story is reflected in not just one of the main characters, the titular “Sower”, but also the people around him. Through their story, a wider one about the treatment of outsiders occurs. This is a remarkable drama that I have seen five times and I am impressed by it which is why I am highlighting it as part of this festival.
Synopsis: Mitsuo was one of those brave souls who answered the call for volunteers to clear out the debris left behind by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The strain of the task proved to be too much and he spent three years in psychiatric care. Upon his release, Mitsuo finds solace in reuniting with his brother and his nieces Chie and Itsuki. But a tragic accident soon disrupts the newly found happiness when the two girls are left in his care and Itsuki is killed. Though he had no direct involvement in the incident, Mitsuo is blamed and this causes him and the people around him to deal with the burden of guilt and the struggle for atonement.
The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 runs from January 24th to February 04th and it includes a massive amount of titles which all look really special. Some are so new, there’s little information. Without further ado, here are the titles!
LAst year was dominated by work/fun at two festivals. There was the Osaka Asian Film Festival at the start of the year while I was in Japan and the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2017 during the autumn when I returned to the UK. Both experiences were great because I got to do what I love the most, writing about films. I also got to work with some really great people and made friends. I have to say thank you to all of them. I hope these people stay with me. As far as I’m concerned, they have my loyalty for what it’s worth. Once I got back from Japan, I made sure to take my family to see as many films as possible. Going to the cinema was something we already did as a family but spending more time together is important. As a result of all this activity, I saw lots of films this year. Due to the type of films I cover or circumstances or pure choice, I flit between years so not everything has been released in 2017. Here’s an article on VCinema I contributed to about a year in cinema and here are my top ten for 2017:
I hope you discover something in this list that interests you.