The 11th Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme has announced its line-up for 2014 and it goes under the title ‘East Side Stories’ and the theme for this festival is youth.
The website notes:
This year’s Japan Foundation UK annual touring film programme will offer an enlightening and expansive introduction to Japanese cinema through the framework of ‘youth’.
Showcasing a vast variety of styles and tones, this programme will take a broad look at how the adults of tomorrow have been portrayed in Japanese cinema over the years by a number of established and up-and-coming directors, through stories of individuals struggling to find a sense of meaning and identity within the world.
The festival runs from January 31st to March 27th 2014 and there are some great titles on offer for fans of anime, manga, and great movies in general. I have included some personal thoughts along with trailers and plot synopses from the webpages. Click on each film title to get taken to the specific film page. Here’s the line-up:
Colorful, Duration: 126 mins. Dir: Keiichi Hara
A dejected soul reaches the train station to death but is informed that he is ‘lucky’ and will have another chance at life. The soul is placed in the body of a 14-year-old boy named Makoto Kobayashi, who has just committed suicide but for a limited time in which the soul must discover why Makoto committed suicide and what the soul’s biggest sin in life was.
The Story of Yonosuke Duration: 160 mins Dir: Shuichi Okita
The Story of Yonosuke is a gem of a film. It is a bittersweet and funny tale of friendship, love and memories and the power of positivity and filmed with great delicacy and good humour by up-and-coming director Shuichi Okita. It will be released next year by Third Window Films.
Naive but self-confident, 18-year-old Yonosuke (Kengo Kora) arrives in Tokyo to begin life as a student in 1987. Taking pleasure in life’s simple things, Yonosuke touches everyone he meets. Decades later, his friends’ stories paint a picture of Yonosuke’s life, and his whereabouts today.
The Drudgery Train, Duration: 114 mins. Dir: Nobuhiro Yamashita
Director Nobuhiro Yamashita dances along the fine line of commercial and indie Japanese cinema and makes plenty of great films such as the charming coming-of-age Linda Linda Linda which will remind AUKN forumites of K-On! The Drudgery Train is unlike many films because the main character is quite a dysfunctional and abrasive person but great performances from Mirai Moriyama, Atsuko Maeda and Kengo Kora and some deft characterisation make this a rewarding film.
19-year-old dropout Kanta (Mirai Moriyama) lives a hopelessly destitute life, fuelled by alcohol and peep-shows, in Japan’s bubble era. After befriending colleague Shoji and landing a date with used-book shop worker Yasuko, the unlikely bookworm Kanta appears to be moving in the right direction, only to discover life is not as easy as he thought.
Love Strikes!, Duration: 118 mins. Dir: Hitoshi One
The set-up screams harem anime and this looks to try and capture the energy of one. Anybody looking for an all-singing, all-dancing madcap comedy packed with great actors and humour might be interested in Love Strikes! which originates from a manga by Mitsuro Kubo that was then adapted into a television show. It stars Mirai Moriyama, a fantastic actor who takes the lead in the film The Drudgery Train (below) and a group of great actresses including Yoko Maki (Like Father, Like Son) and Kumiko Aso (Pulse).
Nerdy, diffident and pop culture-loving blogger Yukiyo (Mirai Moriyama) finds himself all of a sudden more popular with girls. Overpowered by the surge of interest, Yukiyo finds himself in an out-of-control situation in this madcap romantic comedy.
Otakus in Love, Duration 114 mins. Dir: Suzuki Matsuo
This film is inspired by Japanese pop culture and features many luminaries of the anime and manga world including Hideaki Anno taking roles.
Two social misfits – ‘rock’ manga artist Mon (who actually uses rocks as his canvas) and cosplay-obsessed Koino – collide in this quirky love-drama, set in the vibrant world of Japanese contemporary pop culture including manga fandom and cosplay conventions.
18 Who Cause a Storm, Duration 108 mins. Dir: Yoshihige Yoshida
A worker in a shipbuilding yard is offered the chance to boost his wages by managing a dormitory inhabited by a pack of 18 adolescent ruffians. This early film by Yoshishige Yoshida (Eros Plus Massacre) is a neo-realist account of the conditions for Japanese temporary workers in the 1960s, and rare to see outside Japan.
Parade, Duration 118 mins. Dir: Isao Yukisada
A group of young flatmates sharing a tiny Tokyo apartment find their lives thrown into hazard when a mysterious golden-haired stranger takes residence on their sofa, just when a number of brutal murders have been committed in a nearby park.
Capturing Dad, Duration: 74 mins. Dir: Ryota Nakano
Two young sisters embark on a trip to visit their estranged father who is dying of cancer, setting out to fulfil their mother’s request to capture a photo of him. Ryota Nakano’s award-winning debut feature film is a charming story about two sisters’ journey to find out about the father they knew very little of.
Your Friends, Duration: 125 mins. Dir: Ryuichi Hiroki
Two schoolgirls, Emi and Yuka, form a friendship strengthened by their disabilities that their classmates can neither understand nor share. Years on, Emi recalls her unique relationship with Yuka to Nakahara, a photojournalist.
Shindo (Wonder Child), Duration: 120 mins. Dir: Koji Hagiuda,
This is another drama with a great set of actors. Many forumites might be familiar with Kenichi Matsuyama who took the lead role of Daikichi in Bunny Drop, Negishi in Detroit Metal City and also appeared as L in the live-action adaptations of Death Noteand Masaru Kato in the movie adaptation of Gantz.
Child prodigy and gifted pianist Uta, has no life other than playing the piano. Facing various doubts and problems, and haunted by her father’s disappearance, Uta forms an unlikely friendship with the older Wao, who is an aspiring musician, but lacks the drive to succeed. That is until Uta comes into his life…
Sorry, Duration: 103 mins. Dir: Shin Togashi
Following 12-year-old Sei’s abrupt and unfortunate introduction into puberty, he discovers the beautiful and elusive, Nao, a girl one year his senior. Falling head-over-heels, Sei tries to find a way to confess his love to Nao, in this humorous but touching account of growing pains which all men can relate to!
The festival runs from January 31st to March 27th 2014 and will travel to various cities across the UK including Belfast (Queens Film Theatre), Bristol (Watershed), Dundee (Dundee Contemporary Arts), Edinburgh (Filmhouse), London (ICA), Newcastle Upon Tyne (Tyneside Cinema), Nottingham (Broadway), and Sheffield (Showroom Workstation).
For more information, head over to the website. Stay connected to AUKN over the next few days for more news on events connected to the festival.