Nippon Connection, the largest showcase for Japanese cinema anywhere in the world, returns with over 100 brand new and classic films screening in Frankfurt from 29th May to 3rd June. The festival will open with the latest from Shuichi Okita, Mori: The Artist’s Habitat, and pay tribute to guest of honour Shinobu Terajima with screenings of Oh Lucy!, The City of Betrayal, and Dear Etranger, plus a special presentation of Ryuichi Hiroki’s Vibrator. The programme in full:
- Bamy – school friends reunite after many years, but their burgeoning romance is frustrated by a dark secret – the ability to see ghosts!
- Birds Without Names – A young woman lives with an older man for reasons of convenience while continuing to pine for the violent boyfriend who has been missing for the last eight years in Kazuya Shiraishi’s dark romance. Review.
- The Blood of Wolves – Koji Yakusho stars as a rogue cop trying to keep a lid on a yakuza gang war as Kazuya Shirashi updates Battles Without Honour for the bubble era. Review.
- The City of Betrayal – an unhappy housewife and a depressed young man begin an unwise affair in Daisuke Miura’s romantic drama – with award presentation for guest of honour Shinobu Terajima. Review.
- Dear Etranger – Tadanobu Asano stars as a “batsuichi” step-father encountering unexpected resistance from the elder of his second wife’s two daughters as the new couple expect their first child.
- Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura – Mystery author Masakazu wakes up one morning to discover his wife has disappeared in the legendary city of Kamakura where humans and spiritual creatures co-exist.
- Enokida Trading Post – Kiyohiko Shibukawa stars in this small town comedy in which a young man returns home from Tokyo to start afresh.
- Flower and Sword – Samurai flower arranging!
- Foreboding – Kiyoshi Kurosawa presages the apocalypse in this companion piece to Before We Vanish. Review.
- Hanagatami – Nobuhiko Obayashi completes a personal passion project in examining youth on the brink of war.
- Moon and Thunder – Yasuko, a young woman living alone, is prompted into a reevaluation of her life after her family unexpectedly descend on her home.
- Mori: The Artist’s Habitat – Shuichi Okita returns with another portrait of an eccentric in the serene and sometimes surreal life of artist Mori Kumagai. Opening Night Gala.
- Occult Bolshevism – A seance in an abandoned factory provokes malicious results in this horror feature from Ring scriptwriter Hiroshi Takahashi.
- Oh Lucy! – a middle-aged office lady gets a new lease on life after an eccentric English teacher gives her a blonde wig and rechristens her “Lucy”. Review.
- Outrage Coda – Takashi Miike closes out the Outrage trilogy.
- Pumpkin and Mayonnaise – Tsuchida works as a hostess to support her aspiring musician boyfriend but her life is derailed when he finds out about the nature of her work while the resurfacing of an ex-lover also awakens long buried feelings.
- Recall – A corporate scandal is exposed when an innocent woman is killed by a tire flying off a truck.
- River’s Edge – A gay student bullied by his classmates discovers a dead body near a polluted river and shows it to his best friend in Isao Yukisada’s adaptation of the classic ’90s manga.
- Blue Film Woman – a young woman attempts to blackmail the corrupt banker responsible for the deaths of her parents in Ken Mukai’s pink film from 1969.
- Vibrator – a 30-something freelance writer embarks on a journey of self discovery after a chance meeting with a truck driver in Ryuichi Hiroki’s 2003 adaptation of Mari Akasaka’s novel
- The Third Murder – Hirokazu Koreeda puts justice on trial in a tense courtroom drama in which a once convicted murderer pleads guilty to a second crime while his cynical lawyer becomes ever more uncertain his client is telling the truth. Review.
- Tremble All You Want – a painfully shy woman with a long standing unrequited crush on a high school classmate reaches a crisis point when a bashful colleague confesses his love for her. Review.
- We Are – coming of age story in which seven friends part ways after high school some heading to Tokyo some staying behind but their paths always crossing.
- Breath of Rokkasho – childhood friends and former political activists are forced to question their ideals.
- Cyclops – A man wrongfully incarcerated for the murder of his wife decides to look for the real killer alongside the policeman riddled with regret that he helped frame an innocent man.
- The Hungry Lion – When a teacher is arrested for an inappropriate relationship with a minor, a video circulates online depicting him with another girl. As the girl rumoured to be on the tape, Hiromi’s life spirals out of control.
- Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops – Shot in one 74 minute continuous take, Daigo Matsui’s drama follows six teens auditioning for a local theatre production.
- The Name – A depressed former salaryman leading a series of double lives is given a sense of new possibilities by the appearance of a mysterious high school girl. Review.
- The Night I Swam – A sleepy little boy goes on a snowy adventure in this magical, dialogue free odyssey. Review.
- Noise – A stabbing spree in Akihabara continues to reverberate 10 years later in Yusaku Matsumoto’s debut feature. Review.
- One Cut of the Dead – Real zombies invade the set of a horror movie in Shinichiro Ueda’s hilarious behind the scenes farce. Review.
- Party ‘Round the Globe – Hirobumi Watanabe returns with another deadpan classic in which he stars as a lonely man on a roadtrip with a neighbour.
- Passage of Life – an undocumented Burmese family living in Tokyo face intense pressure because of their precarious status.
- Strange Fruit: Shorts – three short films by Kohei Nakayama, Noriko Yuasa, and Tetsuhiko Tsuchiya.
- Topknot Detective – Australian mockumentary examining the creation of the titular TV series.
- Wilderness – two men bond in the boxing ring in Yoshiyuki Kishi’s adaptation of the novel by Shuji Terayama.
- Lu Over the Wall – A young man with musical dreams makes friends with a music loving mermaid and saves his town in the process. Review.
- Mary and the Witch’s Flower – A lonely young girl gets magical powers for one day only in the first feature from Studio Ponoc – German sub/live dub only. Review.
- Music of the Virtual World: Japanese Indie Animated Shorts – collection of animated shorts curated by Dr. Catherine Munroe Hotes.
- Mutafukaz – anarchic French/Japanese co-production in which a motorcyclist finds himself plagued by strange visions. French with German subtitles.
- The Night is Short, Walk on Girl – a lovestruck student chases a mysterious girl around nighttime Kyoto. Review.
- The Boy and the Beast – an orphaned boy living on the streets slips into a fantasy world in Mamoru Hosoda’s 2015 feature. Japanese audio with German subtitles only.
- Tokyo University of the Arts: Animation – short films completed by graduate students at the Institute for Animated Film in Yokohama.
- Violence Voyager – indie animation from Uchija in which two boys chance upon a mysterious theme park.
- Danchi Woman – Akiko Sugimoto follows an 85-year-old woman who has been living in a danchi for over 30 years only to face upheaval when the estate is scheduled for demolition.
- Exclusive Screening by NHK World-Japan – showcase of three NHK docs featuring traditional subjects including tea ceremony and ninjas, plus the docudrama following the life of Hokusai’s daughter Oei starring Aoi Miyazaki and Ryuhei Matsuda.
- A Free Man – Andreas Hartmann follows a young man wilfully living on the streets to pursue a life of freedom.
- Inland Sea – Kazuhiro Soda explores a traditional fishing village slowly dying out due to depopulation.
- Japan Institute of the Moving Image: Short Docs – two documentary shorts focussing on the 2008 Akihabara attack and a young man who wanders the streets doing odd jobs.
- Love and Walbachia – Sayaka Ono considers the interplay between love and gender.
- Of Love and Law – Hikaru Toda reunites with Kazu and Fumi as they fight tirelessly to win recognition for those underrepresented in Japan’s conformist society. Review.
- Ramen Heads – Koki Shigeno follows ramen chef Osamu Tomita.
- Trace of Breath – Haruka Komori captures the life around a small garden centre in a town which was heavily affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
- Zen and Bones – Takayuki Nakamura tells the amazing story behind Japanese/American monk Henry Mittwer.
- Kiru – Also known as Destiny’s Son, Kenji Misumi’s Kiru is the story of a young boy who trains to become a skilled swordsman and then sets out on a journey to learn the secrets of his past.
- On the Road Forever – sequel to Kiru in which the hero tracks down a man who may have been involved with the death of his father.
- Red Peony Gambles Her Life – first instalment in the Red Peony series in which Junko Fuji plays female gambler Oryu.
- Samurai Rebellion – a model samurai (Toshiro Mifune) decides he’s had enough of feudalism when his son is force married to the lord’s cast off only to have her called back once he’s fallen in love with her in Masaki Kobayashi’s enraged drama. Review.
- Sanjuro – sequel to Yojimbo in which Mifune reassumes the role of the wandering hero to fight corruption.
- Kurama Tengu – Screening of the 1928 silent film with benshi accompaniment. German subtitles only.
- Sword of Doom – Tatsuya Nakadai stars as Kihachi Okamoto’s nihilistic swordsman.
- Thirteen Assassins – remade by Takashi Miike in 2010, 13 Assassins follows the plot to take down a corrupt lord who raped a woman and murdered her husband but got away with it because of his connections.
- Yojimbo – Kurosawa’s classic in which wandering ronin Sanjuro comes to the rescue of a town caught up in a gang war.
Nippon Connection takes place in Frankfurt, Germany from 29th May to 3rd June. Tickets are already on sale via the official website where you can also find full details on all the films as well as timetabling information. Unless otherwise stated, films screen in Japanese with English subtitles. In addition to the films the festival will also host a series of events including director talks and workshops in a rich cultural programme. You can keep up with all the latest information by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.