Nippon Connection is back for 2021 once again taking place entirely online! Running from 1st to 6th June, the festival will be bringing some of the best in contemporary Japanese cinema to homes around the world via their Shift72-powered streaming platform. Unfortunately not everything will be available everywhere with some titles streaming in Germany only, but unless otherwise stated all films stream in the original Japanese with English subtitles. Full details for all the films including streaming locations will be available via the official website from 22nd May with tickets priced at €6.
Full list of features:
- Aristocrats – a rich girl (Mugi Kadowaki) and a poor girl (Kiko Mizuhara) eventually find inter-class solidarity through failed relationships with the same man (Kengo Kora) in Yukiko Sode’s empathetic social drama.
- Bolt – tripartite nuclear-themed omnibus movie directed by Kaizo Hayashi and starring Masatoshi Nagase
- Can’t Stop The Dancing (AKA Dance with Me) – musical comedy from Shinobu Yaguchi starring Ayaka Miyoshi as an ambitious executive whose plans for career success are derailed when she’s accidentally hypnotised to break into song and dance every time she hears music. 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.
- Family Of Strangers (AKA Closed Ward) – the lives of three patients at a psychiatric clinic are disrupted when a murder takes place at the facility.
- A Girl Missing – a home care nurse’s life is turned upside-down when she’s wrongfully implicated in a kidnapping in Koji Fukada’s thought provoking drama. Review.
- his – teenage lovers break up after uni each taking different paths while struggling with their sexuality but begin to see new hope reuniting some years later in Rikiya Imaizumi’s empathetic drama. Review.
- Hit Me Anyone One More Time – farcical comedy from Koki Mitani in which a man gets hit on the head and loses his memory only to be told he is actually the prime minister of Japan!
- My Blood And Bones In A Flowing Galaxy – SABU adapts the hugely popular novel in which a high school boy tries to save a bullied classmate.
- One Night – adult children are forced to face the legacy of trauma and abuse when their mother returns after 15 years of exile in Kazuya Shiraishi’s raw family drama. Review.
- Our 30-Minute Sessions – a ghostly intervention helps a collection of wounded adults find accommodation with grief in Kentaro Hagiwara’s bodyswapping take on the band movie. Review.
- The Promised Land – Takahisa Zeze adapts the novel by crime writer Shuichi Yoshida revolving around the unsolved disappearance of a 12-year-old girl.
- Red Post On Escher Street – epic drama from Sion Sono following a series of actors who audition for a festival darling director.
- Sea Of Revival – a man tries and fails to make a new start as he searches for a sense of belonging in a land touched by tragedy in Kazuya Shirashi’s unconventional family drama. Review.
- Shiver – dialogue free music movie from Toshiaki Toyoda filmed entirely on Sado island.
- Special Actors – a nervous young man discovers his inner hero while infiltrating a shady cult as a “Special Actor” posing as a new devotee in Shinichiro Ueda’s absurdist followup to One Cut of the Dead. Review.
- The Stormy Family – abandoned siblings reunite 10 years after their parents robbed a bank and disappeared.
- To The Ends Of The Earth – Kiyoshi Kurosawa reunites with recent muse Atsuko Maeda as a lost TV presenter goes searching for herself while filming in Uzbekistan. Review. Original version with German and French subtitles only
- Under The Open Sky – a pure-hearted man of violence struggles to find his place in society after spending most of his life behind bars in Miwa Nishikawa’s impassioned character study. Review.
- 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.
- Wonderful Paradise – a father has to sell the family flat after a career setback but his kids unwittingly turn the sad event in to an unpredictable party.
- Special screening: A Town And A Tall Chimney – village youngsters stand up to industrial pollution in late Meiji Ibaraki. original version with German subtitles only
- Ainu Mosir – coming-of-age drama in which an Ainu boy confronts the contradictions of his cultures.
- Along The Sea – a migrant worker from Vietnam is faced with her lack of possibility after discovering she is pregnant while living undocumented in Akio Fujimoto’s unflinching social drama. Review.
- Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes – a musician/cafe owner starts receiving messages from himself from two minutes in the future.
- Company Retreat – docudrama in which a young woman is harassed by her boss while working as a hotel receptionist.
- Daughters – two young women find themselves reassessing their ideas of womanhood and maternity in the wake of an unexpected pregnancy in Hajime Tsuda’s refreshingly positive drama. Review.
- Extraneous Matter–Complete Edition – compilation of a series of short films about a woman who encounters something strange while living a sexless life with her boyfriend.
- I’m Really Good – Hirobumi Watanabe shifts focus in capturing one ordinary, though strangely full, day in the life of a little girl living cheerfully in peaceful Tochigi. Review.
- It’s A Summer Film! – high school drama in which a jidaigeki obsessive decides to make a samurai movie only to discover her lead actor is a time traveller from the future!
- Kamata Prelude – four-part anthology film directed by Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, and Hirobumi Watanabe.
- Kontora – a directionless high school girl finds a path towards the future through deciphering a message from the past in Anshul Chauhan’s ethereal coming-of-age drama. Review.
- Nosari: Impermanent Eternity – an “ore ore” scammer ends up living with an elderly woman convinced he really is her grandson.
- Sasaki In My Mind – a down on his luck actor thinks back on his high school days.
- The Town Of Headcounts – a disaffected young man gets a fresh start in a utopian community but quickly becomes disillusioned in Shinji Araki’s slick dystopian thriller. Review.
- yes, yes, yes – a family begins to fall apart under the weight of impending grief when a mother enters the final stages of a terminal illness in Akihiko Yano’s intense existential drama. Review.
- Ainu Neno An Ainu – documentary by Laura Liverani, Neo Sora & Valý Þórsteinsdóttir exploring Ainu identity in contemporary Japan
- I Quit, Being “Friends” – director Ayako Imamura turns the camera on herself and explores her sometimes complicated relationship with an autistic friend who struggles with communication.
- Koshien: Japan’s Field Of Dreams – documentary following a high school baseball team as they battle through national championships
- Me And The Cult Leader – sarin gas attack survivor Atsushi Sakahara takes a cult member on the road in search of understanding in an empathetic, self-directed doc. Review.
- Sayonara TV – documentary marking the 60th anniversary of Tokai Television Broadcasting while contemplating the changing place of television in the contemporary media landscape.
- SUMODO ~The Successors Of Samurai~ – documentary exploring the lives of sumo wrestlers.
- The Witches Of The Orient – documentary focussing on the 1964 Olympic Gold medal-winning women’s volleyball team who inspired a host of manga and anime heroines.
- A new feature documentary by Thomas Ash (details coming soon) world premiere
- Lupin III: The First – 3DCG take on Monkey Punch’s iconic hero directed by Takashi Yamazaki. Original version with German subtitles only
- ON-GAKU: Our Sound – deadpan slackers decide to start a band and discover unexpected sides to themselves in the joy of making music in Kenji Iwaisawa’s infinitely charming indie animation. Review.
- Seven Days War – a group of idealistic teens holds the fort against duplicitous adult indifference in Yuta Murano’s openhearted anime adaptation of the cult novel. Review. Original version with German subtitles only
- Sumikkogurashi: Good To Be In The Corner – cute animation starring the iconic San-X characters. original version with English subtitles / original version with German voice-over
The festival will also be hosting its usual series of lectures and special events via Zoom with the full program available from 22nd May via the official website where you’ll also be able to find ticketing and reservation links. This year’s online Nippon Connection runs 1st to 6th June via the festival’s dedicated streaming platform. To keep up with all the latest news you can also follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.