Camera Japan returns for its 15th edition, not virtually but physically, with another packed screening schedule taking place as usual in Rotterdam Sept. 23 – 7, and Amsterdam, Oct. 1 – 4. With COVID-19 in mind, seating capacity in the venue has been reduced while safety measures will also be in place so everyone can enjoy the festival responsibly.

Contemporary Cinema

  • 108: Revenge and Adventure of Goro Kaiba – comedy from Suzuki Matsuo in which a man discovers his wife has had an affair through a social media post that got 108 likes so he decides to blow the money she’d get in the divorce by using it to sleep with 108 women as revenge.
  • A Girl Missing – limited perspectives and frustrated desires take centre stage as a home care nurse’s life is upended when she is unfairly implicated in a crime in Koji Fukada’s probing drama. Review.
  • Beautiful Goodbye – a nervous young man on the run and an undead woman looking for a way out find each other at the end of the road in Eiichi Imamura’s beautifully melancholic meditation on mutual salvation. Review.
  • Cry – Hirobumi Watanabe returns to the themes of 7 Days in a near wordless tale of a pig farmer’s simple existence in present day Tochigi. Review.
  • The Day of Destruction – Toshiaki Toyoda sets out to exorcise the demons of a venal city in an impassioned attack on societal selfishness and personal apathy. Review.
  • Extro – in a sometimes surreal mockmentary, Naoki Murahashi lampoons the Japanese film industry but has nothing but warmth and admiration for its unsung heroes, the extras. Review.
  • Fancy – Masatoshi Nagase stars as a postman who gets mixed up in a love triangle with amateur poet “Penguin” and his fan “Moonlit Night’s Star”.
  • The Hardness of Avocado – Pia Award-winning romantic drama in which an aspiring actor tries to pick up the pieces after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • Haruka’s Poetry – an office lady from Tokyo abruptly quits her job after falling in love with ceramics and attempts to get the closed off artist to open himself up to her enthusiasm.
  • His – years after his uni boyfriend broke up with him to lead a more conventional life, Shun is surprised to find him on his doorstep with his six-year-old daughter looking for a place to stay.
  • It Feels so Good – wounded former lovers cocoon themselves in an artificial bubble of intimacy in retreat from a world of constant anxiety in Haruhiko Arai’s steamy existential drama. Review.
  • Minori on the Brink – refusing to back down in the face of injustice, Minori finds herself on the brink of despair in Ryutaro Ninomiya’s clear-eyed takedown of an oppressively patriarchal society. Review.
  • Mother – toxic maternity drama from Tatsushi Omori starring Masami Nagasawa as a mother whose unconventional relationship with her son later leads to shocking tragedy.
  • Murders of Oiso – a series of suspicious deaths strain the toxic friendships of four young men drowning in small-town ennui in Takuya Misawa’s meta-mystery existential drama. Review.
  • My Identity – a lost young girl contemplates the “language barriers” which lead to hate and violence while finding herself on the run with an equally displaced older woman in Sae Suzuki’s indie drama. Review.
  • Not Quite Dead Yet – a young woman’s strained relationship with her father improves after he takes a drug which is intended to make him “dead” for a short while but proves more effective than intended.
  • Obake – celestial hecklers observe the life of an indie filmmaker.
  • One Summer Story – summer-themed road movie from Shuichi Okita in which a young woman convinces her friend to help her look for her estranged father.
  • The Other Home – a 17-year-old boy discovers his father has another woman and lives with her in another house. Hoping to put a stop to it, he wanders over there but it proves more difficult than he assumed it would be.
  • Romance Doll – romantic drama from Yuki Tanada adapting her own book about a man who hides the fact he sculpts sex dolls for a living from his wife.
  • Shape of Red – an unfulfilled housewife’s personal desire is reawakened when she runs into an old lover in Yukiko Mishima’s steamy adaptation of the Rio Shimamoto novel. Review.
  • Take Over Zone – after her parents’ divorce, Sari went to live with her dad and her brother Toma with their mother. After getting into a fight with a schoolmate, she discovers that her mum is now dating the other girl’s dad and decides to take her brother and run away.
  • Talking the Pictures – Masayuki Suo’s tribute to the age of the benshi silent movie narrator.
  • Taro the Fool – teen drama from Tatsushi Omori in which three aimless teenage boys discover a gun.
  • Three Nobunagas – three loyal retainers hide out in a ghost town trying to kidnap Oda Nobunaga only to end up with three of him!
  • Vampire Clay – Derivation – sequel to Vampire Clay in which students at an art school are once again terrorised by a vampiric monster.
  • Voices in the Wind – Nobuhiro Suwa returns to Japan after an 18-year absence for a tale of national catharsis as a young woman makes a painful journey home in search of making peace with the traumatic past. Review.

Classics

  • Conflagration – Kon Ichikawa’s 1958 adaptation of the Mishima novel in which an idealistic young man becomes disillusioned with the head priest at the temple where he is studying and is eventually pushed into madness, burning down the beautiful Kinkakuji because it is simply to good for this world. Review.

Documentaries

  • I-Documentary of the Journalist- – Fake’s Tatsuya Mori follows dogged Tokyo Shimbun reporter Isoko Mochizuki as she continues to speak truth to power in an otherwise frustratingly deferent press culture. Review.
  • Prison Circle – Kaori Sakagami digs deep into the legacy of trauma in following a collection of prisoners as they undergo an experimental rehabilitation program in the hope of returning to mainstream society. Review.

Animation

  • Happy-Go-Lucky Days – three-part anime omnibus themed around love including that between two women who meet at a wedding, a teacher caught on the spot by a student’s confession, and childhood friends who find themselves drifting apart as they approach adolescence.
  • On-Gaku Our Sound – deadpan slackers decide to start a band and discover unexpected sides to themselves in the joy of making music in Iwaisawa’s infinitely charming indie animation.
  • Seven Days War – Osamu Soda’s satirical novel is updated for the present day as a young woman runs away with a gang of school friends and holes up in a warehouse where they befriend a Thai immigrant in hiding and try to protect him from the authorities.

Camera Japan 2020 takes place in Rotterdam 23rd – 27th September and Amsterdam 1st – 4th October. Full information on all the films as well as ticketing links can be found on the official website and you can also keep up to date with all the latest news via Camera Japan’s official Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram channel.

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