The Osaka Asian Film Festival returns as a physical event taking place in the city from March 10 to 20, with a small retrospective of 10 Japanese indie features from previous editions streaming worldwide from March 3 to 21. This year’s edition will open with Zhang Lu’s Yanagawa, and close with Danish, Norwegian and Japanese co-production Miss Osaka.
- Journey to the West – a true believer in the existence of extraterrestrial life travels to the mountains where he meets a man claiming to be in touch with aliens.
- Love Will Tear Us Apart – youth romance adapted from a popular web novel in which a man looks back on his youthful love after receiving a phone call informing him she plans to marry someone else.
- ON STAGE – documentary following the lead singer of rock band Second Hand Roses.
- Anita – biopic of the late Cantopop star and actress Anita Mui.
- Far Far Away – quirky rom-com from Amos Why in which a 28-year-old IT guy finds himself the object of attraction for five women who each hail from distant corners of Hong Kong.
- The First Girl I Loved – romantic drama in which two women reflect on their high school romance the night before one is set to marry someone else.
- Mama’s Affair – latest drama from Kearen Pang (29+1) starring Teresa Mo as a woman who returns to work after raising her son.
- My Indian Boyfriend – romantic comedy in which a boy from India romances a Hong Kong dancer who is also courted by a rich yet chauvinistic family friend.
- Time – An elderly hitman displaced by the modern society gets a second chance at life after taking up “euthanasia” in Ricky Ko’s darkly comic yet moving drama. Review.
- Angry Son – indie drama in which an angry young man from the country raised by a Filipina single mother contends with local xenophobia while looking for the father he has never known.
Confession – drama from actor/director Hideo Sakaki in which a young woman is confronted with her traumatic past after her estranged step-brother visits to tell her her mother has passed away.no longer screening
- Far Away, Further Away – romantic drama from Shinji Imaoka in which an unhappily married woman bonds with a brokenhearted estate agent.
- Howling – after losing his job having been accused of sexual harassment, 40-year-old Ryuji is propositioned by 20-year-old Akane only to discover she wants him to kill her father while his first love Chisato has married their former high school bully and is trapped in an abusive relationship.
- To Be Killed by a High School Girl – outlandish manga adaptation starring Kei Tanaka as a handsome teacher who joined the profession because he has a taboo fetish of being murdered by a high school girl.
- The Light of Spring – neorealist docudrama told from the point of view of a little boy who returns home to discover his mother and sister have left because his parents are separating.
- Our House Party – semi-autobiographical LGBTQ+ indie drama from Shuichi Kawanobe in which a student begins exploring his sexuality after an encounter with the owner of a gay bar in Tokyo’s Shinjuku 2-chome.
- Melting Sounds – MOOSIC LAB drama from Kahori Higashi in which a young woman returns to her grandmother’s home to find an old man in her garden recording ambient sounds so he can bury them in a “sound tomb”.
- Miss Osaka – Danish-Norwegian-Japanese co-production in which a directionless young woman steals the identity of a Japanese friend after she mysteriously disappears.
- Random Call – a struggling actor’s world expands after he’s drawn into a social experiment reconnecting with old friends through random phone calls.
- Sanka: Nomads of the Mountains – drama set in 1965 in which a teenager studying for his exams encounters the Sanka, a community of nomads whose way of life is on the brink of extinction.
- The Second Sino-Japanese War in Toy Films – silent compilation of early Showa documentary and propaganda films
- Switchback – four teenagers are brought together by a summer workshop encouraging them to look deeper at their small hometown of Obu.
- The Wonder of a Summer Day – sisters separated by divorce are reunited by a summer at grandma’s.
- Yanagawa – latest drama from Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu in which two brothers decide to visit “the Venice of Japan” in search of a woman they both loved 20 years previously
- YU-GEKI~side story of “Love’s Twisting Path”~ – documentary following veteran director Sadao Nakajima during the production of Love’s Twisting Path.
- Aloners – A solitary call centre employee is forced into a reconsideration of her way of life when a neighbour dies a lonely death in Hong Sung-eun’s melancholy character study. Review.
- Boundary: Flaming Feminist Action – documentary focussing on the feminist action group formed in the wake of the violent murder of a woman at Gangnam Station in 2016.
- The Girl on a Bulldozer – an angry young woman rebels when her father is injured in an accident which seems to be connected to a shady politician.
- In Front of Your Face – An ageing actress returns to Seoul after many years abroad carrying with her a sense of melancholy vulnerability in Hong sang-soo’s gentle character study. Review.
- Barbarian Invasion – Tan Chui Mui directs and stars as an actress making a comeback after retiring to become a housewife and mother only to be told the film can only be made if her ex co-stars.
- The Sales Girl – a shy student of nuclear physics begins to explore her sexuality when covering a friend’s shift at a sex shop.
- Big Night – a gay beautician is confronted with her own complicity with injustice when her name is placed on a watch list.
- Whether the Weather Is Fine – Philippine drama in which a mother and son search for missing loved ones in the aftermath of disaster.
- You and Me and the Ending – a fugitive and a hotel maid find love at a holiday resort during a COVID-19 lockdown
- Days Before the Millennium – Two Vietnamese women who came to Taiwan 20 years apart and in very different circumstances discover a sense of mutual solidarity in Chang Ten-Yuan’s migratory epic. Review.
- Increasing Echo – marital drama in which a woman attempts to force her adulterous husband to visit his former mistress in a nursing home where she is living with dementia but he refuses and runs away.
- Leave Me Alone – a petty gangster falls for a wealthy gallery owner while working as her driver.
- Girls’ School <Digitally Remastered> – new restoration of the 1982 drama revolving around the transgressively close friendship between two high school girls.
- 4 Kings – a hardworking family man reflects on his time as a teenage delinquent after his daughter is involved in gang violence.
- Camellia Sisters – three wealthy sisters plot against each other in this opulent melodrama.
Director in Focus: Satoko Yokohama
- Chiemi And Kokkunpatcho – Yokohama’s mid-length graduation project in which a young woman working as a dental technician receives a wedding invitation from an old friend with whom she had previously fallen out.
- German plus Rain – Yokohama’s first theatrical feature following a teenage girl who dreams of being a singer but works as an apprentice gardener along with a German guy who calls her “gorillaman”.
- Bare Essence of Life – Aomori-set drama in the Tsugaru dialect starring Kenichi Matsuyama as an eccentric young man who falls in the love with a kindergarten teacher who has recently arrived in the town in search of her late boyfriend’s missing head. Review.
- The Granny Girl – 30-minute short revolving around the life of an ordinary Tokyo couple
- A Girl in the Apple Farm – 42-minute short starring Masatoshi Nagase and Youki Kudo as parents to a runaway daughter.
- Camping, eating, and sleeping, alone. #7 Corned beef yukke in Nishiizu – 24-minute episode from the TV series starring Takahiro Miura.
- A DAY-OFF OF KASUMI ARIMURA #5 The Lid – 26-minute episode of the TV series starring Kasumi Arimura as a fictionalised version of herself in which she experiences difficulty trying to open a jar and ventures out in disguise in search of help.
- Honsundonsukosuko – 4-minute short produced for TV starring Ryohei Suzuki
Streaming worldwide with English subtitles March 3 to 21.
- Torso – 2009 drama from Yutaka Yamazaki starring Makiko Watanabe, Sakura Ando, Arata Iura, Sora Aoi, and Renji Ishibashi revolving around an isolated office lady whose only comfort is a limbless male inflatable doll.
- Breathless Lovers – 20-minute short from 2017 directed by Shumpei Shimizu in which a man chases the ghost of his late boyfriend.
- Chigasaki Story – whimsical 2014 drama from Takuya Misawa (Murders of Oiso) in which students and teachers come together during a wedding at a hotel.
- The Faceless Dead – 2009 feature from Kishu Izuchi in which an aspiring writer receives a phone call to tell her she is in the hospital and decides to visit to find out why someone is using her identity.
- Jeux de Plage – Rohmerian drama in which college friends Sayaka and Yui take a trip to the beach where they meet up with Yui’s old pal Momoko but find their dynamic disrupted by sleazy passersby and mutual awkwardness. Review.
- Mechanical Telepathy – 2018 feature from Aya Igarashi in which a researcher loses consciousness while trying to develop a machine to visualise the human mind
- Nice to Meet You – 2011 drama from Takamasa Oe in which a student living alone with his mother discovers her diary in which she converses with his unborn brother.
- Reiko and the Dolphin – 2019 family drama from pink director Shinji Imaoka in which a young couple try to come to terms with the loss of their daughter in the devastating earthquake which struck Kobe in 1995.
- The Sound of Light – 2011 first feature from Juichiro Yamasaki in which a former musician returns home from Tokyo to take over the family farm.
- The Sower – 2016 drama from Yosuke Takeuchi in which a man recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital falls under suspicion following a family tragedy. Review.
This year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival runs at venues across the city March 10 to 20, and online March 3 to 21. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links are available via the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.