Japan Cuts returns for its 12th instalment bringing some of the best recent mainstream and indie hits to Japan Society New York from 19th to 29th July. This year’s Japan Cuts Cut Above Award goes to much loved actress Kirin Kiki who will be on hand to present the North American premiere of Shuichi Okita’s Mori, The Artist’s Habitat.
The programme in full:
Takumi Saitoh stars in Singaporean director Erik Khoo’s cross cultural family drama in which the son of a ramen shop owner discovers a suitcase full of old photos which belonged to his late Singaporean mother and decides to travel to the place of his mother’s birth to find out more about his family history. Opening Night Gala featuring intro and Q&A with director Eric Khoo and star Takumi Saitoh.
Hikaru Toda reunites with Love Hotel’s Fumi and Kazu who run a small law firm in Osaka specialising in representing the LGBT community. Review. Intro and Q&A with director Hikaru Toda.
Actor Takumi Saitoh steps behind the camera for this atypical family drama in which a young man travels home for the funeral of his estranged father only to find himself charmed by the roguish stories of his fellow mourners. Intro and Q&A with director Takumi Saitoh.
Experimental animation from The Burning Buddha Man director Ujicha in which an American boy called Bobby and his friend Akkun take off for the mountains but end up trapped in an abandoned theme park called Violence Voyager.
Set once again in Okinawa, the second feature from comedian Toshiyuki Teruya follows a pregnant woman home to a remote island to mourn her late mother while her family continues to fall apart and neighbours gossip about the absent father of her unborn child.
High schooler Nana has been dragged around by her divorced father Ueda who works as an immoral real estate broker facilitating cheap land sales for foreign buyers but an extended stay in Rokujo forces the pair to reassess the past and their current way of life in Thunder Sawada’s rural drama. Intro and Q&A with director Thunder Sawada, star Yuya Takagawa and producer Kazuyuki Kitaki
Tomoyuki Takimoto adapts the award winning novel by Fuminori Nakamura in which an ambitious journalist decides to look into the mysterious case of a beautiful female model who died in a horrific fire on the set of a shoot by a famous fine arts photographer.
A small family from Myanmar attempts to get by undocumented only to face an uncertain future when their application for refugee status is rejected. The two children born in Japan struggle to identify with their Burmese heritage while their parents face more immediate concerns for the family’s safety and security. Intro and Q&A with director Akio Fujimoto.
Masaaki Yuasa adapts Tomihiko Morimi’s novel in which a university student undergoes a surreal odyssey through nighttime Kyoto in search of a beloved childhood book while her not so secret admirer has a few adventures of his own in the hope of winning her heart. Review.
Comedy from Masaharu Take in which a smoozy antiques dealer is unwittingly sold a fake tea cup claiming to have belonged to famous tea master Sen no Rikyu only to decide if you can’t beat ’em join ’em and plan a heist with the guys who just scammed him.
Documentarian Kaori Oda weaves together unused footage from her time with Béla Tarr at his Film Factory in Sarajevo in 2013-2016 as well as her life in Japan to explore a path towards connection. Intro and Q&A with director Kaori Oda
Ryuichi Hiroki adapts his own novel in which a young woman living in temporary accommodation following the 2011 earthquake attempts to escape the crushing inertia of her uncertain life through undertaking casual sex work in Tokyo. Review.
Kazuo Hara follows the residents of Sennan, Osaka as they pursue legal compensation from the government for exposing them to pollution from asbestos factories. Intro and Q&A with director Kazuo Hara, producer Sachiko Kobayashi, and film participants
Kiyoshi Kurosawa revisits the world of Before We Vanish with a cut down of his TV companion piece in which a factory worker stumbles on the alien invasion thanks to her corrupted healthworker husband. Review.
An apathetic student begins to find a sense of purpose when sucked into the world of the male escort in the latest from Daisuke Miura.
Okinuma took off and founded an all female colony in the woods with her pregnant 14-year-old daughter, Kagu. Now that Kagu’s daughter Kushina is approaching the same age her mother was when they first left modern society behind she is beginning to ask questions about the outside world. When an anthropologist and her male assistant stumble onto the colony Okinuma will do whatever it takes to protect it. Intro and Q&A with director Moët Hayami and star Tomona Hirota
A young woman attempting to create audio description scripts for the visually impaired is tested by a former photographer trying to come to terms with losing his sight in Naomi Kawase’s romantic drama. Review.
Shuichi Okita chronicles the later life of artist Morikazu Kumagai who has barely left his garden in the last 30 years but must prepare to bid it goodbye as a modern apartment complex nears completion. Review. Intro and Q&A with star Kirin Kiki plus Cut Above Award ceremony.
Family divisions, secrets, and prejudices are brought to the surface as a family gathers for the memorial service for their eldest son who was killed trying to save a child from drowning in Koreeda’s classic family drama. Review.
Five experimental short films including Yohei Suzuki’s YEAH! Review. Intro and Q&A with dir. Nao Yoshigai, dir. Yohei Suzuki and actress Elisa Yanagi
Masayuki Suo’s only pink film takes the form of an Ozu pastiche centring on one very unusual family.
Unfulfilled office lady Yoshika is still nursing a high school crush but when a colleague suddenly confesses his love for her, Yoshika’s cheerful fantasy world threatens to implode. Review.
Print shop owner Yuria is desperate to attract the attentions of client Kazunari but he only has eyes for her assistant and younger sister Mako. Meanwhile, Kazunari is also contending with his rowdy brother just released from jail and crashing at his apartment. Intro and Q&A with director Keisuke Yoshida
Kitano returns with the third and final instalment in the Outrage trilogy which finds Otomo in exile in Korea.
Tite Kubo’s hit manga gets a live action adaptation helmed by I am a Hero’s Shinsuke Sato. Sota Fukushi stars as Ichigo – an ordinary high school boy with orange hair and the ability to detect spirits, who comes to the rescue of imperilled Soul Reaper Rukia (Hana Sugisaki) and soon finds himself battling Hollows on her behalf. Intro and Q&A with director Shinsuke Sato.
Divorced father Makoto has remarried and has two step-daughters but when his second wife discovers she is carrying their child, he begins to worry that the new baby may pull his blended family apart in this very modern family drama from Yukiko Mishima. Review.
Lonely 16-year-old Amiko finds a kindred spirit in footballer Aomi, but when he abruptly takes off for Tokyo with a former student Amiko cannot help but follow him hoping to make sense of his sudden betrayal. Intro and Q&A with director Yoko Yamanaka.
Nina wins the lottery and takes her friend Su with her on a trip to Singapore where they quickly grow bored of tourist hotspots and retreat to the global anonymity of shopping malls. When Nina loses track of her friend and her phone, the trip sends her on a different kind of odyssey through the “real” Singapore in the latest from Daisuke Miyazaki.
Nobuhiko Obayashi realises a long held ambition of filming Kazuo Dan’s 1937 novella of youth living in the shadow of an oncoming tragedy. Review.
Japan Cuts runs from 19th to 29th July at Japan Society New York. Full details for all the films along with ticketing links are available via the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival’s official Facebook page and Twitter account.