The 12th Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme has announced the line-up for its run in 2015 and the title for this year is “It Only Happens in the Movies?”
The website bills the festival as:
Showcasing a vast variety of styles and tones, from popular contemporary films, classics through to animation, the programme will include titles in which characters experience seemingly unusual meetings, plunge into unexpected circumstances and new environments, as well as collide with different generations, ideals and ideas – asking the question, does it really only happen in the movies?
The festival runs from January 30th to March 26th in 11 venues across the UK and for the third year in a row, anime is included and it is playing a bigger part of the programme.
Here is the list of films:
Wood Job!, Duration: 116 mins, Dir: Shinobu Yaguchi,
Shota Sometani is one of the most exciting actors in Japan right now and is the star of the live-action Parasyte film which was released last month. I hear that this comedy is very funny, so why not check it out?
Yuki Hirano is a high school grad who has failed his university entrance exams and expects to spend the near future working a part-time job but sees a brochure with an attractive girl for a year-long forestry training scheme and soon he’s in a remote mountain village called Kamusari which is nothing like Tokyo but it is a beautiful place full of warm-hearted locals. Can he survive his training and make something out of his life?
The Light Shines Only There, Duration: 120 mins, Dir: Mipo O,
This was at this year’s Raindance Film Festival and I watched it. I can recommend this one because it is an intensely moving drama about emotionally damaged people and also very beautiful.
Tatsuo Sato quits his job after a tragedy and does little with his days until he meets Takuji Oshiro, a rough-around-the-edges kid recently released from jail, at a pachinko parlour and strikes up a friendship. Takuji invites Tatsuo back to his home where he lives with his sick father, mother and older sister Chinatsu, a woman stuck in a number of awful situations. Tatsuo becomes attracted to Chinatsu and the two try and pull themselves out of their problems…
The Handsome Suit, Duration: 115 mins, Dir: Tsutomu Hanabusa,
Diner chef Takuro is kind-hearted man but has never been popular with the opposite sex. After discovering a magical suit which transforms him into a good-looking male model, Takuro must work out whether to keep the suit on forever.
Short Peace, Duration: 68 mins, Directors: Katsuhiro Otomo, Shuhei Morita, Hiroaki Ando, Hajime Katoki,
Short Peace is an omnibus film which collects four short films directed by four different directors and each of the stories all have the overarching theme of Japan and stretch from a tale of a controversial marriage that ends in a fiery blaze in Edo era Japan to the tale of a man lost deep in the mountains who encounters Mononoke, a terrible demon during the Sengoku period. The other stand-out tale is a sci-fi one set in Tokyo in the near future where a platoon of soldiers encounter a mysterious weapon.
Scattered Clouds, Duration: 116 mins, Director: Mikio Naruse,
This is director Mikio Naruse’s final film. He is one of the titans of Japanese cinema’s ‘golden age’ and his work is presented in beautiful colour Tohoscope. It tells the tale of impossible love between a widow and the driver who accidently killed her husband.
Nobody to Watch Over Me, Duration: 118 mins, Director: Ryoichi Kimizuka,
The Funamura family becomes the target of mass media attention after their 18-year-old son comes under suspicion of committing a horrendous murder. Detective Katsuura’s job is to protect the offender’s younger sister, a 15-year-old girl. Despite his reservations about the situation, he follows his orders and shields the girl from the paparazzi and discovers his views challenged.
My Little Sweet Pea, Duration: 95 mins, Director: Keisuke Yoshida,
Anime fans may want to try this one out because My Little Sweet Pea features animated segments from Production I.G, a perfect choice for a story about a girl who wants to be an anime voice actress!
Mugiko has lived with her older brother Norio ever since their mother Ayako abandoned the family and their father died. She dreams of being a voice actress in the anime industry and it has been a long time since she has thought about her mother but one day Ayako returns and she is hiding some shocking news…
Jinx!!!, Duration: 122 mins, Dir: Naoto Kumazawa,
University students Kaede and Yusuke are in love with each other but they are so quiet and reserved they cannot express their feelings to each other. Enter South Korean exchange student Ji-Ho who knows of their plight and gets them together through a Korean-style romance.
Carmen from Kawachi, Duration: 89 mins, Dir: Seijun Suzuki
Straight from the Japan Foundation website: An experimental and kaleidoscopic film by iconoclastic director Seijun Suzuki about Carmen, a young lady who escapes her miserable life at home to travel to Osaka and becomes a hugely popular nightclub singer with men falling at her feet. Sounds like a blast
Bolt from the Blue, Duration: 96 mins, Director: Gekidan Hitori,
Haruo is a poor magician who wants to be the best in his field. With no parents for support he wonders why his life has turned out the way it has and then he travels back in time and discovers the secret of his birth…
Blood and Bones, Duration: 144 mins, Dir: Yoichi Sai,
Takeshi Kitano is famous for directing and starring in films that contain yakuza and cops (Sonatine, Hanabi) but many anime fans in the UK will probably know him for his acting turn in the live-action adaptation of the Battle Royale novel. He took a lead role in this and won many plaudits for his performance. Apparently, this is a very, very tough one to watch.
Kim Shun-Pei, a Korean emigrant to 1920s Japan, arrives in Osaka to make a new life for himself but finds discrimination and hard labour waiting for him. With strength and determination he works hard to open up opens a kamaboko (steamed fish cake) factory but finds his lust for money and power overwhelming and he soon creates a small criminal empire.
All About Our House, Duration: 116 mins, Dir: Koki Mitani,
Koki Mitani is a director who specialises in comedy films, some of which are highly rated by critics. This is one of his earliest efforts.
Naosuke and Tamiko are a married couple who decide to build a new house from scratch. They recruit a young interior designer to plan, and Tamiko’s carpenter father to build, only to find themselves playing piggy in the middle as the two men vie for dominance on the project.
A Letter to Momo, Duration: 120 mins, Dir: Hiroyuki Okiura,
This 2012 film comes from Production I.G and was conceived and brought to the screen by Hiroyuki Okiura, the director of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Many of the animators and artists have worked on Production I.G and Ghibli films such as The Sky Crawlers and Spirited Away.
Momo is a young girl who grew up in a big city. However, following the premature loss of her father, she has to move with her mother to the old family house on a remote island. Here, time seems to have stopped: old wooden buildings, holy shrines surrounded by trees, fields painstakingly carved out from steep hills… and no shopping mall.
Needless to say, Momo is not too enthusiastic about this new environment and finds it difficult to makes friends. Most of all, her heart is still feeling uneasy about an unfinished letter left by her father. A letter that contained only two words: “Dear Momo…”
What was dad going to say?
One day,while exploring the attic of her new big house, Momo finds a dusty and worn out book. And from that moment, something really unexpected starts happening around her thanks to three mysterious creatures…
Here is the list of venues
– ICA, London
– Watershed, Bristol
– Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), Belfast
– QUAD, Derby
– mac birmingham, Birmingham
– Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), Dundee
– Filmhouse, Edinburgh
– Showroom Cinema, Sheffield
– Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne
– Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, Cumbria
– Broadway Cinema, Nottingham
At the time of writing, dates and times for the film screenings at the ICA have been announced and are on the website. If you are unable to attend the ICA dates and want to find out about times for a venue near you then keep checking the site because it will be updated.