This year’s Raindance Film Festival takes place from September 26th to October 07th at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square. There are a selection of Japanese indie films on offer with European and World Premieres in the mix. There are also lots of guests coming from Japan to take part in Q&As so this is a great chance to see some films and get closer to the filmmakers.
Here is a breakdown of the titles.
A Crimson Star is a drama about the relationship between a school girl named Yo who is being abused by her step-father. She is hospitalised but makes a connection with a nurse named Yayoi. Time passes and they fall out of contact but when they re-establish it, Yo finds Yayoi is depressed and earning money as a prostitute. Yo seeks refuge with Yayoi and a friendship develops as the older woman becomes a friend to her young house-mate but things become complicated when Yayoi develops feelings for a paraglider, who can take her away from the harsh realities of life as they soar through the skies…
The September 27th screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Aya Igashi, actors Yuki Sakurai and Mio Sugawara and the film’s producer, Ken Natsuhara.
Room Laundering is a fun supernatural dramedy that follows Miko Yagumo, a girl who can see ghosts. Her uncle Goro uses this skill to get her into a strange line of work: room laundering. Essentially, she stays in the apartments of people who have just died in them. Murder, suicide, whatever. She’ll stay there. Why? Landlords must tell potential tenants if someone has died in the property they are planning to rent but the law is a bit fuzzy as to how many people down the line landlords need to inform. Miko’s line of work begins to get interesting as she acts as an exorcist/councillor for a variety of people who are still haunting their former abodes…
Bad Poetry Tokyo is the harrowing tale of a young woman named Jun Fujita. When we first meet her, she is 30 years old and working as a hostess at a shady club but when she is betrayed by her lover, she heads back to her home town in Nagano Prefecture and reconnects with old friends but she also comes back into contact with the things that made her flee in the first place as audiences get a glimpse into her dark past…
This an award-winning human drama featuring a searing lead performance from leading lady Shuna Iijima. She brings a complex character to the screen with varying amounts of subtlety and force and her performance was powerful enough for the organisers of the Osaka Asian Film Festival to create an award category for her when she took the Best Actress award. The film also won the award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2018 Brussels Independent Film Festival.
There will be a Q&A with cast members Shuna Iijima, Orson Mochizuki and Takashi Kawaguchi on October 04th.
Love At Least is a drama about a hikikomori named Yasuko (Shuri). She has trouble staying awake due to her hypersomnia and also has difficulty controlling her emotions and can be verbally aggressive. She lives with her boyfriend Tsunagi, who seems indifferent to her behaviour which leaves her frustrated but when Tsunagi’s ex-girlfriend Ando appears with plans to break up the couple, Yasuko is forced to change and leave her room.
The October 02nd screening has a Q&A with director Kosai Sekine and actress Shuri.
Matsuchiyo – Life of a Geisha looks at the world of geisha through the career of Matsuchiyo, a geisha for six decades who is still working. It is directed by her son, Ken Nishikawa, who looks at how her profession and Japanese culture has changed over time and how she balanced family life.
The October 05th screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Ken Nishikawa and producer Mike Rogers.
There are two short movies with Japanese involvement. As is typical with Raindance, each short movie will be shown before a feature.
Full Moon (Dir: Yukihiro Shoda) is a US-Japan co-production that follows a compilation of intertwined snippets featuring various characters of diverse backgrounds from different parts of the world leading unique lives which are all shown to be tied together with the underlying message that we are all connected.
The September 29th screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Yukihiro Shoda and the film’s executive producers, Motoki Tomatsu and Takayuki Moriya.
Selfie-Stick (Dir: Rory O’Donnell, 6 mins) describes its story as… “Taking selfies around Tokyo can lead to some strange attachments.”