Nippon Connection, the largest showcase for Japanese cinema anywhere in the world, returns with another fantastic selection of new and classic films screening in Frankfurt from 28th May to 2nd June. Opening with the latest quirky rom-com from Tremble All You Want’s Akiko Ohku Marriage Hunting Beauty, the festival will also welcome Guest of Honour Shinya Tsukamoto with a screening of his latest film Killing plus classics Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tokyo Fist. Meanwhile, this year’s classics strand is dedicated to Golden Era actress Ayako Wakao. The programme in full:
- And Your Bird Can Sing – Adapted from the novel by Yasushi Sato, And Your Bird Can Sing follows a trio of lost youngsters as they drift into an almost certainly destructive ménage à trois.
- Another World – a middle-aged man keeps his family at a distance but the reappearance of a childhood friend begins to shake his world in the latest from Junji Sakamoto.
- Asako I & II – A young woman finds herself torn between old love and new in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s whimsical drama. Review.
- The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine – Taisho era tale of sumo and revolution in which a band of anarchists find themselves fascinated by an itinerant troupe of female sumo wrestlers shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 in the latest from Takahisa Zeze.
- Dare to Stop Us – Kazuya Shiraishi’s nostalgic look back at the heyday of Wakamatsu Production through the eyes a young female AD. Review.
- Dawn Wind in my Poncho – a trio of college kids takes a last roadtrip before graduation.
- Fly Me to the Saitama – zany comedy from Hideki Takeuchi in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority. Review.
- Hard-Core – a purehearted guy with a violent streak laments the cruelty of the modern world but finds friendship with a lonely homeless man and a robot they find in an abandoned factory.
- Inuyashiki – an angry young man and mild-mannered dad get superpowers on the same day in Shinsuke Sato’s blockbuster manga adaptation. Review.
- It’s Boring Here, Pick Me Up – ensemble drama from Ryuichi Hiroki following 10 years in the lives of a collection of lost souls from small town Japan.
- Jam – Returning to the realms of Dangan Runner, Sabu brings three dreaming guys together through the power of cosmic coincidence. Review.
- Killing – a samurai prefers not to pick up his sword in Shinya Tsukamoto’s first foray into the jidaigeki.
- Love at Least – a young woman with bipolar tries to get her life together but is frustrated by the reappearance of her supportive boyfriend’s manipulative ex. Review.
- Lying to Mom – When her son tries to hang himself, the mother of the Suzuki family knocks herself out in an effort to save him and winds up in a coma. When she wakes up, she can’t remember anything of the incident. Lacking the heart to tell her the truth, the family pretend he is alive and well and living in Argentina.
- Marriage Hunting Beauty – manga adaptation from Akiko Ohku in which a beautiful woman with terrible taste in men decides to get married.
- The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan – shogi drama from Toshiaki Toyoda.
- Ramen Shop – a bereaved ramen chef travels to Singapore after finding the diary of his late mother.
- Room Laundering – a young woman puts her ability to see ghosts to a productive use. Review.
- Special Screening: Tetsuo: The Iron Man – classic 1989 cyberpunk from Shinya Tsukamoto.
- Special Screening: The Legend of the Stardust Brothers – rediscovered ’80s cult classic from Macoto Tezka.
- Special Screening: Tokyo Fist – classic boxing drama from Shinya Tsukamoto.
- Thicker Than Water – ironic warring siblings comedy. Review.
- We are Little Zombies – anarchic pop comedy in which four orphaned kids decide to start a band!
- Ahum – atmospheric black and white horror film in which a nuclear plant employee begins to lose his grasp on reality.
- Blue Hour – a young woman takes her best friend on a roadtrip to her home town but finds old wounds reopening on reuniting with her family.
- The Call of Zon – experimental science fiction film in which a small town has been walled off by a mysterious force known as Zon for the past 20 years.
- The Chaplin – Ren Osugi stars as a prison chaplain ministering to death row prisoners.
- Complicity – an undocumented man from China starts working at a soba restaurant but lives in constant fear of discovery.
- Jesus – a 10-year-old boy moves to his grandmother’s out in the country and has to attend a Christian school.
- Life Finds a Way – the latest from Hirobumi Watanabe is a meta take on the filmmaking process.
- Melancholic – a graduate of a top university takes a job in a bathhouse and is shocked to discover it doubles as a yakuza killing ground in Seiji Tanaka’s ironic debut.
- Sea – a man who witnessed a rape as a teenager but did nothing to help muses on his failings when he meets the perpetrators again years later.
- Tourism – two women take a trip to Singapore but things take a turn for the strange when one gets lost.
- Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa – documentary exploring the child soldiers who fought under the Japanese during the battle of Okinawa.
- From All Corners – a young man gives up his job to become a cardboard picker.
- I Go Gaga, My Dear – director Naoko Nobutomo follows her elderly parents and charts the development of her mother’s Alzheimer’s.
- Japanese Documentaries Presented by NHK World-Japan – two NHK docs including the first episode of 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki, and another about a Syrian musician’s discovery of a piano which survived the 1945 nuclear attack.
- Kagura Troupe on the Beat – traditional shinto music and dance.
- Portraits of the Rainbow – Ayumi Nakagawa follows photographer Leslie Kee as he photographs members of the LGBT community in order to combat their invisibility within Japanese society.
- Sending Off – Nippon Connection regular Ian Thomas Ash returns with a documentary following a doctor and her team of nurses as they offer hospice care to patients in their homes.
- Shinjuku Tiger – Yoshinori Sato follows the man in the tiger mask often seen around Shinjuku.
- Tower of the Sun – Love at Least director Kosai Sekine uses Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun as a jumping off point to explore the evolution of Japanese culture
- Hiroyasu Ishida: Animation Shorts – a selection of shorts from the Penguin Highway director who will also be on hand to discuss his career after the screening.
- Liz and the Blue Bird – the latest from Naoko Yamada follows two friends in their final year of high school as their friendship is tested by rehearsing the famous musical piece.
- Nippon Film Breakfast: Mirai – the latest from Mamoru Hosoda in which a little boy tries to come to terms with the arrival of his baby sister. Screening in Japanese with German subtitles only.
- Okko’s Inn – a young girl moves in with her grandmother after losing her parents and makes friends only she can see. Screening in Japanese with German subtitles only, and in German dub.
- Penguin Highway – a young boy tries to solve the mysterious arrival of random penguins in his ordinary town. Review.
- Tokyo University of the Arts: Animation Shorts – selection of student shorts.
- Transience – The Best of Recent Indie Animation – selection of indie shorts.
Nippon Retro: Ayako Wakao – Magnificent Icon of Japanese Cinema
- An Actor’s Revenge – Kon Ichikawa classic in which an onnagata attempts to avenge the death of his parents.
- The Blue Sky Maiden – cheerful melodrama in which a young woman travels to live with her birth father’s family but is fiercely resented by her step-mother and half siblings. Marks the first collaboration between Yasuzo Masumura and his later muse. Review.
- Elegant Beast – satirical comedy from Yuzo Kawashima in which a criminal family meets their match in a wily entertainment accountant.
- Floating Weeds – Ozu classic in which the leader of an itinerant theatre troupe reunites with his former lover in a seaside town.
- The Goddess of Mercy – Yasuzo Masumura’s adaptation of the Junichiro Tanizaki novel in which a bored housewife enters a relationship with a woman she meets at art class who reminds her of the goddess of mercy. Review.
- The Red Angel – Ayako Wakao stars as a frontline nurse in Masumura’s powerful anti-war drama. Review.
- Seisaku’s Wife – a young woman marries an old man and continues to live alone after he dies suddenly becoming a social pariah until she falls in love with a model soldier.
- Women are Born Twice – Wakao stars as a melancholy geisha in another comic drama from Yuzo Kawashima.
Nippon Connection takes place in Frankfurt, Germany from 28th May to 2nd June. Tickets are available from 11th May 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.