Stream Contemporary Japanese Film with the Chicago Japan Film Collective (May 25th to 31st)

Chicago Japan Film Collective is the first Japanese film festival in Midwest. From May 25 to the 31, they will stream nine films, a mixture of dramas and documentaries, many of them highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike – you can read some of my reviews and interviews with two of the directors via links below!!! – that give you a good insight into what contemporary indie films in Japan look like.

An early-bird ticket is available and costs only $13 until the 15th. I cannot emphasise how much value for money this is considering you get nine high-quality films. Tickets are handled by Eventive and it looks easy to register with. I’m assuming that this is region-locked and probably only available in America.

What plays at the festival?

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Yan, Yan, We Are at the End of the Droste, Monster Seafood Wars, Local Peace! Illusion Driving, River Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

I hope you are all doing well.

The state of emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic has ended and cinemas have reopened across Japan and I imagine what we see in the video of this tweet sums up the new reality for going to the movies – empty seats between patrons and internet Q&As.

I know I’ll be going to the cinema to watch Christopher Nolan’s latest, Tenet. This tweet comes from the Twitter account of Tagore Songs which I wrote about on Monday’s trailer post because it was in cinemas. It’s a wonderful documentary.

For the rest of the week, I posted a review of Inabe (2013) which is being screened as part of the We Are One Global Film Festival (and is still online). I then started posting about Nippon Connection 2020 with a Highlights post, a look at the mainstream and classic movies, the indie movies and anime and I’ll continue posting about Nippon Connection with an anime post and some reviews.

I finished watching Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, almost two years after starting it. I came to love the characters in the second half of the show and got a bit emotional at the end. I also watched Inception, Yalta Conference Online, Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops and Tremble All You Want.

This is the second trailer post of the week as the industry tries to get back on its feet and films on the big screen.

What is released this weekend?

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A Preview of Nippon Connection 2020: Nippon Visions

 

The 20th Nippon Connection will take place from June 09th to the 14th and the organisers will take the event online for a Virtual Anniversary Edition. Over the course of six days, Nippon Connection Online will play a total of 70 feature-length and short films from a variety of genres to give a good overview of the trends in Japanese cinema. 

The films will each be available to view via the video on demand platform Vimeo in exchange for a small fee. The period of availability lasts for a full 24 hours from the moment they are purchased. They will all be available during the duration of the festival, although some titles will be region-locked, something I will detail below. There will also be the chance to get in contact with the filmmakers behind the titles since they will be in contact with the audience via video messages, discussions and live broadcasts. There will also be a variety of online events, including workshops, lectures, performances, and concerts and a virtual marketplace which will present a wide range of offers related to Japan.

Many of these films will be available for audiences to watch around the world.

I have a highlight post which gives an overview of the festival and a post focusing on the classics and the mainstream releases. This preview covers the indie films.

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Interview with “Yan” Director Keisuke Imamura at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020

Yan is the feature debut by Keisuke Imamura, a cinematographer who began his career by teaching himself to shoot independent films while studying at Nihon University’s Department of Fine Arts. After graduation, he apprenticed with KIYO and made his debut as a cinematographer at the age of 24, first with indies before moving on to bigger titles. An early collaboration with the director Michihito Fujii on Kemuri no Machi no Yori Yoki Mirai wa (2012) proved to be the beginning of a fruitful relationship as they would work together again on Tokyo City Girl (2015), Day and Night (2019) and The Journalist (2019). Imamura’s career has encompassed titles as diverse as the drama Phantom Limb (2014) and manga-extravaganza Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High (2017).

For his feature debut Yan (review here), Imamura retains the glossy look of his big films but uses it to channel the intimate story of a man discovering his roots and making it as sensuous as possible so we feel his emotions. Tsubame (Long Mizuma) is half-Taiwanese, half-Japanese and living a comfortable existence in Tokyo. However, a request from his father to track down his older brother Ryushin (Takashi Yamanaka) leads to the unearthing of painful memories of a family separation and his own alienation due to his dual-heritage status and the departure of his mother (played by the pop star Hitoto Yo). It’s a universal story that sees Tsubame find peace with himself and connect with a mother he never understood. Imamura sat down after the world premiere of the film at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 and talked about its background.

This interview was conducted with the help of the translators Keiko Matsushita and Takako Pocklington.

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Yan 燕Yan Dir: Keisuke Imamura (Japan, 2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Yan    Tsubame Yan Film Poster

Yan Tsubame Yan

Release Date: June 05th, 2020

Duration: 86 mins.

Director: Keisuke Imamura

Writer: Noriko Washizu (Script),

Starring: Long Mizuma, Takashi Yamanaka, Yo Hitoto, Ryushin Tei, Mitsuru Hirata, Yoji Tanaka, Satomi Nagano,

OAFF Website

Japan and Taiwan have the sort of close ties that embody all aspects of the hurt and joy of human relations. From language to politics, Japan’s time as colonial ruler to the post-war economics of industry and tourism, the exchange of people and ideas has been constant. It proves fertile ground for Keisuke Imamura’s feature-length directorial debut Yan, which uses both cultures for a story of one Japanese man’s self-discovery as he finds out more about his mother, his birthplace and, ultimately, himself.

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 Programme Announcement

Earlier this month, the organisers of the Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) 2020 announced the full line-up for the festival which takes place from March 6-15. This is the best event to see a cross-section of Asian cinema and nearly all of the films will have English subs – the only exceptions we know so far are “Birthday”, ” House of Hummingbird”, and “Malmoe The Secret Mission”.

Despite the issues surrounding Coronavirus, the festival is still going ahead but one section, the co-hosted event “Come to Life! vol.2 Gutai and Nakanoshima”, has been cancelled due to the decision of the co-host organiser. This means six films have been removed which brings the number of selected films screened from a record 64 to 58 in total. This number includes 12 World Premieres, 12 International Premieres, and 3 Asian Premieres with films submitted from countries and regions such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Poland, South Korea, Japan, and South East Asia.

Continuing on from previous editions of the festival, OAFF remains a beacon of progressive programming as 25 female directors find their works selected with over half the films in the Competition section directed by women. The festival programme features characters from across the world contesting with issues such as war, crime, bullying, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration and unionising in the workplace. OAFF continues to give a platform to filmmakers who face challenging issues, whether the films reckon with historical injustice or paint a brighter future through showing diverse characters navigating their way in our tumultuous world.

Please check the full line-up of OAFF 2020 which can be found here. Tickets for the films screening at the fest are already on sale.


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