Now in its 11th year, Japan Cuts returns to Japan Society New York from 13th to 23rd July bringing some of the best in recent Japanese cinema with it as well as a host of special guests and events. The festival will open with Yoshihiro Nakamura’s ninja drama, Mumon: The Land on Stealth on 13th July while award-winning animation In This Corner of the World will close the proceedings on July 23. The full lineup is as follows:
Yoshihiro Nakamura’s ninja epic Mumon: The Land of Stealth finds the secretive warriors uncomfortable with the new order but young mercenary Mumon has his own problems with a new wife who values her material comforts. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura will be present on the opening night to present the film.
Kyoko Miyake’s documentary Tokyo Idols follows an aspiring star as she makes her way through one of the most controversial areas of the Japanese entertainment industry.
Taking inspiration from the poetry of Tahi Saihate, The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is a complicated love/hate letter to the city from The Great Passage’s Yuya Ishii. Review.
The latest film from Okinawan filmmaker Go Takamine, Hengyoro (Queer Fish Lane) follows two old men living in the village where those who failed to die continue to exist as they set off on a strange journey to escape persecution after being falsely accused of stealing something from a local store.
Yosuke Kubozuka plays a depressed boxer who finds friendship in the Alley Cat of the title only to realise he’s being two-timed with a grungy mechanic.
Megumi Sasaki’s documentary A Whale of a Tale takes an in-depth look at the controversial practice of whaling.
Tetsuya Fujiwara and Hideaki Ito star in Memoirs of a Murderer – an adaptation of Jung Byoung-Gil’s Confession of Murder directed by Yu Irie. A mysterious man confesses to a series of unsolved crimes shortly after the statute of limitations passes and becomes a media sensation but the cop who failed to solve the case just can’t let it go.
Based on the hit smartphone game Neko Atsume House stars Atsushi Ito as a blocked writer who moves to the country hoping to stimulate himself with a change of scene only to be immediately adopted by a bunch of demanding cats!
Tai Kato’s underseen documentary The Ondekoza plays in the classic strand in its new 4K restoration and centres on the taiko drummers of Sado Island, mixing training footage with their famously intense performances for a feverish visual feast.
Shingo Matsumura’s gentle Love, Goodbye, and Hawaii is the story of a technically broken up couple who still live together and are forced to face their lingering feelings when one of them meets someone else.
Kenji Yamauchi adapts his own stage play skewering the middle classes as a boring dinner party gets progressively out of hand exposing each of their flaws, weaknesses, and well hidden secrets in At the Terrace. Review.
Produced by Shinji Aoyama and Takenori Sento, Sora Hokimoto’s debut feature Haruneko is a tale of life and death told through music and light in a mysterious forest.
Kei Shichiri revisits Before the Day Breaks ten years on and adds all-new sound and imaging. Based on the manga by Naoki Yamamoto, Once Upon a Dream follows a girl who sleeps too much but never feels as if she has slept enough.
The first film made outside of Japan for veteran filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Daguerrotype stars Tahar Rahim in a classic European gothic ghost story perfectly melding this classic genre with Kurosawa’s uniquely creepy visuals.
Konrad Aderer’s documentary Resistance at Tulle Lake tells the story of 12000 Japanese Americans labelled “disloyal” and incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center for refusing to obey the government’s internment order.
Theatre director Junko Emoto makes her film debut with The Extremists’ Opera adapted from her own autobiographical novel centring on an all female performance troupe.
The third in a series of films adapted from the works of Hakodate native novelist Yasushi Sato, Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Over the Fence stars Joe Odagiri as a recently divorced man returning to his home town to start over but failing until he meets eccentric bar girl/zookeeper Satoshi played Yu Aoi. Joe Odagiri is a special guest at this year’s festival and will be attending in person to introduce the film as well as collect this year’s CUT ABOVE award.
Joe Odagiri stars as the artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita who became a part of the ’20s Paris art scene before returning to militarist Japan in 1933 and providing artwork for the propaganda movement. Joe Odagiri will also attend in person for an introduction and Q&A.
Elite public school boy Teiichi dreams of becoming Prime Minister in Akira Nagai’s manga adaptation, Teiichi Battle of Supreme High but finds his (lack of) ideology questioned by a well meaning working class transfer student. Review.
An adaptation of Keigo Higashino’s 2013 novel, Shippu Rondo sees Hiroshi Abe play a research scientist hot on the trail of a stolen biological weapon in a slapstick filled comedy thriller.
The Japan Cuts 2017 Shorts Showcase features four films by veteran and brand new filmmakers including:
- Birds – Directed by Koji Fukada this 8 minute short features an awkward encounter between a wife, her husband, and his mistress.
- We Are Shooting – Raita Minorita’s 26 minute short is a behind the scenes tale of the trials and tribulations of movie making.
- White T-shirt and Feeble Things – directed by Yun Su Kim, White T-shirt and Feeble Things is the story of a man who only wears plain white T-shirts but can’t keep any of them clean.
- Breathless Lovers – Directed by Shumpei Shimizu Breathless Lovers is the story of 23-year-old Toshiyuki chasing his boyfriend’s ghost across Tokyo.
An Iranian student and depressed bartender face a series of romantic and cross cultural confusions in Takuro Nakamura’s West North West. Actresses Hanae Kan and Sahel Rosa will attend the screening for an introduction and Q&A. Review.
Depressed teenager Sakura (Hanae Kan) has a complicated relationship with Americanisation thanks to growing up near Japan’s biggest mainland American military base but an encounter with the half-American daughter of her mother’s boyfriend prompts a reconsideration of her life goals in Daisuke Miyazaki’s Yamato (California). Review.
Sion Sono’s entry into Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno Reboot Project, Anti-Porno is the story of celebrity novelist Kyoko and her strange relationship with her assistant Noriko.
The latest film from Yuki Tanada, My Dad and Mr. Ito, is a tale of cross-cultural romance as an elderly father moves in with his middle-aged daughter only to find she is already living with a much older man.
Summer Lights marks the Japan debut for French filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot. A Japanese filmmaker living in Paris returns to Japan in order to make a documentary about Hiroshima and ends up on a journey with a mysterious woman.
The first in the Taisho Trilogy, Zigeunerweisen is a late career masterpiece from Seijun Suzuki centring on a university professor’s odd relationship with a roguish friend and a mysterious geisha. Review.
Sunao Katabuchi’s award-winning animation In This Corner of the World is the story of one ordinary woman in World War II Hiroshima. Producer Taro Maki will be present for a Q&A after the film.
Japan Cuts takes place at Japan Society New York, from July 13 – 23, 2017. Ticket links and full details for all the films can be found on the festival’s official website, and you can keep up with all the latest news as well as the year round film programme via the Japan Society Film Facebook page and Twitter account. Tickets are already on sale to members with public sales available 12th June.