In less than one month, the 16th Japanese Film Festival opens in Sydney from 14 – 25 November at Event Cinemas George Street and Melbourne from 29 November – 9 December in two locations, Hoyts Melbourne Central and ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Tickets go on sale 22 October for the biggest line-up to date. This year’s ‘totally sweet’ program features many titles that are now showing in Japan, with some yet to be released.
The full programs can be found on the official site.
OPENING & CLOSING FILMS
Opening the festival with a festive start is Japan’s biggest box office hit of the year, Thermae Romae, a laugh-out-loud comedy starring Hiroshi Abe as a time-travelling Roman architect that journeys between ancient Rome and present-day Japan. The film is centred on bath culture, from Japanese bathhouses to Roman baths, the portal between the two eras.
The festival will close with an epic saga, The Floating Castle, based on actual historical events, set in 16th century feudal Japan. It’s the tale of a 20,000 strong army against 500 men in a battle for their lives. Originally set for a September 2011 release, it was postponed to this November due to a large water attack scene that was deemed inappropriate to be released in the same year as the tsunami. Sydney will be simultaneously screening this as Japan.
FRESH FROM JAPAN
35th Montreal World Film Festival ‘Special Grand Prix Jury’ Prize winner, A Chronicle of My Mother starring Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins), is a tender family portrait about a mother with dementia in the care of her bitter son. For those who are familiar with the late Japanese literary writer Yasushi Inoue, this film is based on his autobiography and is reminiscent of classic director Yasuhiro Ozu’s nuanced style.
Earlier this year, Japan’s oldest active film director Kaneto Shindo passed away, aged 100. Postcard was Shindo’s final film, written from his own war experiences and was Japan’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2011 Academy Awards.
From the director of the 2009 Academy Award- winning film Departures, Yojiro Takita returns with Tenchi: the Samurai Astronomer, a samurai assigned with the task of charting the stars across the length and breadth of Japan.
Fans of Japanese thrillers will be pleased to see Goose Bumps – the Movie – in the mix. Initially a cult TV series, this is a compilation of six chilling stories not about the supernatural, but the curiosity and madness that lurks deep within us all.
Rurouni Kenshin, another film currently topping Japan box office grossing over 555 million yen ($7 million) in its first five days, is a must-see for all samurai lovers. But for those who are after a different type of blade action, Helter Skelter gives you a glimpse of the ugly side of beauty – when plastic surgery gets out of hand.
Families will enjoy newly animated feature Friends: Naki on the Monster Island, a heart-warming story about an unlikely friendship that forms between a monster and a human child.
SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES
SYDNEY Actress Tamiyo Kusakari (Shall We Dance?) and director Masayuki Suo (Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t, Shall We Dance?) will make a guest appearance and special Q&A session at the screening on A Terminal Trust, a film on the ethics of euthanasia.
Director Miwa Nishikawa (Dear Doctor) will join us in conversation at the screening of Dreams for Sale, a couple caught in their own web of deception in pursue of their dreams.
MELBOURNE Multi Cannes-award winning director Kenji Uchida (A Stranger of Mine, After School) will be at the screening of Key of Life, which recently won Best Screenplay at the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival. It is a comedy about two men trading places, one finding himself in a lifestyle more than he bargained for.