Scoop! (Hitoshi One, 2016)

scoop!Hitoshi One has a history of trying to find the humour in an old fashioned sleazy guy but the hero of his latest film, Scoop!, is an appropriately ‘80s throwback complete with loud shirt, leather jacket, and a mop of curly hair. Inspired by a 1985 TV movie written and directed by Masato Harada, Scoop! is equal parts satire, exposé and tragic character study as it attempts to capture the image of a photographer desperately trying to pretend he cares about nothing whilst caring too much about everything.

Shizuka (Masaharu Fukuyama) is a man out of time. Once the best photojournalist on his paper, he’s ridden the waves of a changing industry and become a high earning freelance paparazzo. Shizuka’s nights are spent in all of the fashionable if occasionally squalid drinking holes of the city in which the elites of the entertainment world attempt to disappear. Sadako (Yo Yoshida), the editor of Scoop! – a once proud publication now a seedy scandal rag, worries about her old friend, his debts, and his legacy. Offering to pay him well above the going rate for anything useable, she saddles him with the latest new recruit – Nobi (Fumi Nikaido), a naive young woman dressing in the bold childhood nostalgia inspired fashion trends of Harajuku. As might be assumed the pair do not hit it off but gradually a kind of closeness develops as Nobi gets into the thrill of the paparazzo chase.

In keeping with his inspiration, One shoots with a very ‘80s aesthetic of a city bathed in neon and moving to the beat of electropop and synth strings. Grainy and grungy, the images are seedy as is the world they capture though this is the Tokyo of the present day, not the bubble era underground. Shizuka claims his major inspiration came from the famous war photographer Robert Capa though now he can’t even remember if he really meant to become a photographer at all. Chasing cheating celebrities and exposing the odd politician for the kind of scandal that sells newspapers is all Shizuka thinks he’s good for, any pretence of journalistic integrity or the “people have a right to know” justification was dropped long ago.

Sadako, however, has more of a business head than her colleagues and is starting to think that Scoop! could be both a serious news outlet and nasty tabloid full of gravure shots and shocking tales of the rich and famous. Getting Shizuka to mentor Nobi is an attempt at killing to two birds with one stone – unite the plucky rookie with the down on his luck veteran for a new kind of reporting, and help Shizuka return to his better days by paying off those massive debts and getting his self esteem back.

Unfortunately Shizuka is his own worst enemy, hanging around with his strange friend Chara-Gen (Lily Franky) who is intermittently helpful but a definite liability. The world of the newspaper is certainly a sexist one – Sadako and Nobi seem to be the only two women around and the banter is distinctly laddish. An ongoing newsroom war leaves Sadako lamenting that the men only think about their careers and promotions rather than the bigger picture while the suggestion that she may win the position of editor has other colleagues bemusedly asking if a woman has ever helmed such a high office. The men ask each other for brothel recommendations and pass sexist comments back and fore amongst themselves with Shizuka trying to out do them all even going so far as to put down the new girl by describing her as “probably a virgin”.

Sadako’s plan begins to work as Shizuka and Nobi become closer, she becoming the kind of reporter who files the story no matter what and he finally agreeing to work on a more serious case. Having spent so long believing everything’s pointless, Shizuka’s reawakening maybe his undoing as a noble desire to help a friend who is so obviously beyond help leads to unexpected tragedy. Nevertheless, the presses keep rolling. A throwback in more ways than one, One’s 80s inspired tale of disillusioned reporters and mass media’s circulation numbers obsessed race to the bottom is all too modern. Unexpectedly melancholy yet often raucously funny, Scoop! is an old fashioned media satire but one with genuine affection for the embattled newsroom as it tries to clean up its act.


Scoop! was screened as part of the Udine Far East Film Festival 2017

Original trailer (no subtitles)

Close-Knit (彼らが本気で編むときは, Naoko Ogigami, 2017)

close knit posterWhile studying in the US, director Naoko Ogigami encountered people from all walks of life but on her return to Japan was immediately struck by the invisibility of the LGBT community and particularly that of transgender people. Close-Knit (彼らが本気で編むときは,  Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki wa) is her response to a still prevalent social conservatism which sometimes gives rise to fear, discrimination and prejudice. Moving away from the quirkier sides of her previous work, Ogigami nevertheless opts for a gentle, warm approach to this potentially heavy subject matter, preferring to focus on positivity rather than dwell on suffering.

11 year old Tomo (Rinka Kakihara) is home alone, again. Her mother rolls in late, dead drunk, and promptly flops down onto the futon next to Tomo’s still in her work clothes. A note left the next day explains that Tomo’s mother has quit her job and won’t be coming home for a while. This is not the first time she’s done this and the money she’s left is at least enough for a train ticket to visit uncle Makio (Kenta Kiritani). When Tomo slaps a collection of manga down in front of him at the bookstore where he works, Makio immediately realises what’s going on and is both infuriated with his sister and glad to take his niece in for a while until her mother comes to her senses.

There’s one potential problem. Makio now has a live-in girlfriend only she’s not quite what Tomo might be expecting. On meeting Rinko (Toma Ikuta), Tomo is indeed shocked but is soon won over by Rinko’s warm and loving nature. Rinko is a transgender woman who’s experienced her share of hardships in life but finally found fulfilment in her relationship with Makio though she has a lot of love to give and would dearly love a child of her own.

Used to being left to her own devices, Tomo is a tough and resourceful child but also one with a thick protective shell. Unused to being mothered, Tomo finds Rinko’s attempts to reach out to her difficult to bear, cycling back and forth through a pattern of affection and rejection. Where her mother left her only store bought onigiri (which she has come to hate) and cash, Rinko makes beautiful character bentos complete with octopus frankfurters and adorable panda faces. So touched is Tomo by this gesture that she can’t quite bring herself to eat it and eventually makes herself ill by finally deciding to enjoy it long after it’s past its best.

Nevertheless even if Tomo comes to bond with Rinko, there are still those who don’t approve of her existence. Tomo has a, well, not quite friend at school, Kai, who is somewhat ostracised by the other children who call him “gay” and write homophobic slurs on the classroom blackboard. Tomo, whilst sometimes hanging out with Kai who lives near to her outside of school, refuses to have anything to do with him in class lest she be rendered guilty by association. Growing closer to Rinko, Tomo also comes to an acceptance of and willingness to fight for Kai who has confided in her about his crush on another boy in their class. Kai’s mother (Eiko Koike), however, is not so understanding and so when she catches sight of Tomo in the supermarket with Rinko she offers to save her from the “weirdo” and later bans Kai from hanging out with his only friend in case he somehow catches “weirdness” from their atypical family setup. This attitude of hers eventually has potentially tragic consequences for her young son, left with nothing other than the prospect of maternal and later societal rejection eased only by Tomo’s firm insistence that there’s nothing wrong with him at all.

Unlike Kai’s mother, Rinko’s instantly understood and remained fully supportive of her child even whilst hauled into school for an explanation of why “Rintaro” has been skipping P.E.. Rinko’s mother not only goes out and buys lacy bras for her daughter, but even knits her a pair of fluffy pink breasts so she won’t feel so depressed about not developing in the same way as all the other girls. Tomo’s mother has a lot of problems of her own but many of these stem back to her own upbringing, unintentionally threatening to pass on some of these same qualities to her own daughter as she allows her to feel just as worthless and unloved as her mother did her. Yet, Ogigami’s camera remains resolutely unjudgemental in trying to understand each of these various facets of motherhood from the immense maternal love of Rinko as it finally finds an outlet in Tomo to the far less positive image of Kai’s mother who presumably thinks she’s doing the best for her son in trying to prevent him veering from the norm but only succeeds in making him feel his life is not worth living.

The title of the film, as grandly punned as it is, refers not just to the quickening family bonds among this idealised yet unusual family but also to Rinko’s favourite method of stress relief – knitting. Like the cooking she is often seen providing for the family, Rinko’s knitting is also largely about warmth in making something for a particular person which is tailor made to keep them warm in the cold, but it also works as a multilayered metaphor as she brings people together, binding them tightly with her own wamth and generosity of spirit. Rather than fighting back with angry words (or well aimed dish soap as a provoked Tomo eventually does), Rinko channels her frustrations into her knitting, using them to create something positive rather allowing negativity to overwhelm her. Ogigami’s film seems to want to do the same, arguing for tolerance, understanding, and acceptance as a pathway to a better world even if it’s clear the road is long and we’re not so far along it as we should be.


Close-Knit was screened as part of the Udine Far East Film Festival 2017

There’s also an interesting interview with director Naoko Ogigami and producer Kumi Kobata in the Nikkei Asian Review in which they discuss the casting of actor Toma Ikuta.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

The City Of Betrayal (裏切りの街, Daisuke Miura, 2016)

city of betrayalWhat is it that makes one person betray another? Following Love’s Whirlpool, playwright and Be My Baby author Daisuke Miura returns to the world of messy modern love with a tale ridden with infidelity and the impossibility of trust. Despite being in outwardly successful relationships, the central characters find themselves seeking something, trying to eclipse some element of dissatisfaction which is more with themselves than with their partners by burying it in a meaningless affair which only becomes less meaningless as time goes on. Formerly a TV drama now recut for the big screen The City of Betrayal (裏切りの街, Uragiri no Machi) is a melancholy and contemplative piece but one which shares Miura’s rather depressing view of romance with its inherent difficulties and contradictions.

Yuichi (Sosuke Ikematsu) is a young man with a part-time job he never bothers to go to and a successful girlfriend, Satomi (Eriko Nakamura), who is content to pay all the bills and even give him pocket money to out drinking with his friends. Bored at home, Yuichi checks porn sites and chats on a meet up board for casual sex. When he sees a message from “Tomo” popup wondering if anyone nearby is up for some no strings fun, he jumps right on it. Yuichi tells “Tomo” that he works in mass communications and reassures her that he’s not all that bad looking so there’s nothing to worry about.

“Tomo” claimed to be 30 and in the fashion business, but really she’s Tomoko Hashimoto (Shinobu Terajima), a 40 year old housewife who is convinced her husband has been having an affair. Tomoko is not unhappy with Koji (Mitsuru Hirata) – a salaryman of a similar age to herself, he’s a good man, considerate and well mannered if a little dull. Like Yuichi and Satomi, Tomoko and Koji enjoy a full relationship and get on pretty well even if there are the usual little niggles hiding beneath the cheery facade.

Despite having met up for casual sex, the start of Yuichi and Tomoko’s affair is a slow one in which Tomoko originally changes her mind, aware of the large age difference between herself and Yuichi and afraid it would put him off. Spending time together just as friends, the pair grow closer before heading into a love hotel for an experience which is not altogether successful. Still, they continue to meet up at regular intervals behind their partners’ backs.

The cheating and the subterfuge doesn’t sit well with either of them, but their secret affair fulfils needs which weren’t being met elsewhere. Neither Yuichi or Tomoko is particularly unhappy in their relationships but each were in their own way deeply unhappy. Yuichi’s masculine pride is hurt by his girlfriend’s status as the breadwinner while he cannot seem to get his act together, find a job, and make a success of himself. Later on he tells Tomoko that part of the reason he liked spending time with her was that she never scolded him for being the way he is, she just accepted him at face value. Tomoko by contrast, was perhaps looking either for revenge against her possibly adulterous, sometimes neglectful husband or a something more straightforward than her slightly strange marital arrangements. Though Koji is generally attentive and a goodhearted, kind person his ministrations sometimes have the whiff of manipulation and Tomoko has reasons to be suspicious of his ongoing friendship with someone called “Tamura” from “work” whom no one else at work seems to know.

In actuality it turns out that there are no faithful relationships, as one character puts it “there are many truths”. A man can love his wife and his mistress and that’s not necessarily a contradiction, much as it might seem so to the accidentally adulterous Yuichi. Despite the bond generated by their shared loneliness, the relationship between Yuichi and Tomoko remains casual, in one sense, though Yuichi eventually contemplates leaving his girlfriend and suggesting Tomoko leave her husband to allow them to start a new life together, probably knowing that it’s impossible. A lengthy post-credits sequence seems to provide a melancholy if reassuring coda as the lovers return to their respective spheres each having achieved a kind of “success”, though perhaps are no more fulfilled in themselves than they had been before. Another despairing look at modern love from Miura, The City of Betrayal is human at heart, rather than moralistic, arguing for the mature view whilst at the same time offering an ambivalent defence of conventionality.


The City of Betrayal was screened as part of the Udine Far East Film Festival 2017.

Original trailer (no subtitles)

Survival Family (サバイバルファミリー, Shinobu Yaguchi, 2017)

survival family posterModern life is full of conveniences, but perhaps they come at a price. Shinobu Yaguchi has made something of a career out of showing the various ways nice people can come together to overcome their problems, but as the problem in Survival Family (サバイバルファミリー) is post-apocalyptic dystopia, being nice might not be the best way to solve it. Nevertheless, the Suzukis can’t help trying as they deal with the cracks already present in their relationships whilst trying to figure out a way to survive in the new, post-electric world.

Receiving a package from grandpa fills the Suzukis with horror more than gratitude. Mum Mitsue (Eri Fukatsu) can’t bring herself to cut the head off a fish and the sight of the giant bug that crawls out of the lettuce is just too much to bear. Her teenage daughter, Yui (Wakana Aoi), is not very excited either, tapping her smartphone with her fake nails, while her son Kenji (Yuki Izumisawa) spends all his time alone in his room with headphones permanently attached. Mr. Suzuki, Yoshiyuki (Fumiyo Kohinata) – the family patriarch, is a typical salaryman, obsessed with work and often in bed early.

All that changes one day when Yoshiyuki’s alarm clock does not go off. There’s been a power outage – nothing works, not the TV, not the phone, not even the tower block’s elevator. Being the salaryman champ he is, Yoshiyuki tries to make it into to work in other ways but the power’s out across the city and there’s nothing to be done. Everyone is sure the power will come back on soon, but days pass with the consequences only increasing as supermarket shelves become bare and water frighteningly scarce. After his boss decides to take his chances in the mountains and a neighbour dies as a direct result of the ongoing power shortage, Yoshihyuki decides to take the family on the road to find Mitsue’s country bumpkin father in the hope that he will have a better idea of how to survive this brave new world.

Yaguchi is quick to remind us all of the ways electricity defines our lives, even if we’ve begun to forget them. Not only is it a question of mobile phones being out and lifts being out of order, but gas appliances are also electric ignition as are the pumps which drive the water system. So used to the constant stream of electricity, no one quite realises what its absence means hence Yoshiyuki’s big idea is to get a plane from Haneda airport. Ridiculous as it may seem, he’s not the only one to have underestimated the part electricity plays in flight and the aviation industry as the airport is swamped by people trying to escape the rapidly disintegrating city. Credit cards no longer work leading to long checkout lines as the old ladies with their abacuses make a startling return to checkouts while bemused shoppers attempt to use the ATM machine to get more cash.

Cash itself still has worth, at least for a time. Eventually the barter system takes over as food and water become top price commodities. A very flash looking man tries to trade genuine Rolex gold watch and later the keys to his Maserati for food but is roundly informed that none of his hard won prizes is worth anything in this new back to basics era. Thanks to Mitsue’s housewife skills of frugality and haggling, the family are able to get themselves a small stockplie of resources but find themselves tested when the less fortunate ask them for help.

The crisis brings out both the best and the worst in humanity. As the family make their escape from the city on a series of bicycles, they pass a succession of salesmen all upping the price of bottled water by 100% each time. Profiteering is rife as the unscrupulous procure ordinary foodstuffs to be sold for vast amounts of money. Yet the Suzukis rarely find themselves on the wrong side of trickery and even encounter a few kindly souls willing to help them on their journey such as a gang of cycle wear clad survival experts and a very forgiving farmer who takes the family in when they help themselves to one of his escaped pigs (a sequence which allows Yaguchi to go on another Swing Girls-style pig chase only without the slo-mo and classical music).

Forced to reconnect, the family become closer, gradually coming to know and accept each other whilst finding new and unknown talents. Living simply and harmoniously has its charms, ones that don’t necessarily need to disappear if the power ever comes back on. The only certainty is that you can’t survive alone, and who can you count on if you can’t count on family?


Screened as the opening night movie of the Udine Far East Film Festival 2017.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival to Pay Tribute to Seijun Suzuki

suzukiSince its launch in 2000, the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival has become one of the major Swiss film events. Set to return from 30th June to 8th July, the 17th edition of the festival which has an annual special focus on Asian cinema will pay tribute to the late Seijun Suzuki who sadly passed away in February of this year.

branded to kill

Around 10 of Suzuki’s best works will be screened during the festival alongside a number of recent cinema hits from Asia to be announced at a later date.

affiche-rvb-avec-banner-webThe 17th Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival runs from 30th June to 8th July 2017 and will have a special focus on genre cinema. The festival will also host a series of outdoor cinema events as part of the NIFF Invasion strand including a screening of Cheung Kwok-ming’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (1983), and Tsui Hark’s A Chinese Feast (1995) is set to screen as one of five films selected to celebrate the nomination of Neuchâtel as a city of taste.

You can keep up with all the latest festival news via the official website, Facebook, and Twitter account

Nippon Connection 2017 to Showcase Japanese Documentary

Mifune_Last_SamuraiNippon Connection is the largest festival dedicated to Japanese Cinema anywhere in the world and returns in 2017 for its 17th edition. Once again taking place in Frankfurt, the festival will screen over 100 films from May 23 – 28, many of which will also welcome members of the creative team eager to present to their work to an appreciative audience.

This year’s festival has a special focus on documentary film – an area often neglected by other mainstream film festivals. Leaving heavier topics to one side, documentaries already announced to headline the strand include Atsushi Funahashi’s idol documentary Raise Your Arms and Twist – Documentary of NMB48 (道頓堀よ、泣かせてくれ! DOCUMENTARY of NMB48, Doutonbori yo, Nakasetekure! Documentary of NMB48)

raise your arms and twistDirector Atsushi Funahashi has hitherto been known for hard hitting fare such as the Fukushima documentary Nuclear Nation as well as narrative films including the heartrending Cold Bloom and cross cultural odyssey Big River. Consequently he steps into the slowly growing genre of idol documentaries from the refreshing position of a total novice. Adopting an objective viewpoint, Funahashi rigourously dissects this complicated phenomenon whilst taking care never to misrepresent the girls, their dreams, or their devoted fanbase.

Trailer (no subtitles)

Returning to the internationalist leanings of Funahashi’s Big River, Kimi Takesue’s 95 and 6 to Go sees the director begin a collaborative project with her widowed grandfather – a Japanese immigrant to Hawaii.

95_And_6_To_Go_Still4Shot over six years, 95 and 6 to Go begins with a stalled fim project and some unexpected grandfatherly advice but eventually develops into a moving meditation on life, love, loss, and endurance.

Trailer:

In a neatly circular motion the last of the three highlights of the documentary section takes a look at one of the giants of Japanese cinema – Toshiro Mifune.

Kurosawa-Mifune-VenicePreviously screened at the BFI London Film Festival, Steven Okazaki’s documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai focuses firmly on Mifune’s place within the history of samurai cinema through exploring not only his life but also the early history of “chanbara” movies and the genre’s later echoes in American cinema as related by talking heads including Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.

Of course there will also be a host of narrative features on offer with frequent Nippon Connection favourite Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Daguerrotype (Le Secret de la chambre noire) a definite highlight.

Le-Secret-de-la-chambre-noire-affiche-filmosphere-790x1071Back in 2012, Kiyoshi Kurosawa planned his first international movie, 1905, which would have featured 90% Chinese dialogue and was set to shoot in Taiwan with stars Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Shota Matsuda and Atsuko Maeda. Sadly, political concerns of the day put paid to 1905, and so Daguerrotype marks Kurosawa’s first foray into non-Japanese language cinema. Starring one of France’s most interesting young actors in Tahar Rahim, this French language gothic ghost story takes the director back to his eerie days of psychological horror.

Trailer (English subtitles)

Returning to modern day Japan, Capturing Dad director Ryota Nakano’s second movie Her Love Boils Bathwater (湯を沸かすほどの熱い愛, Yu o Wakasu Hodo no Atsui Ai) is another suitably offbeat family drama.

her love boils bathwaterPale Moon‘s Rie Miyazawa stars as a warmhearted woman who discovers she only has a short time left to live and is determined to get her estranged family back together whilst saving the family bathhouse. Rie Miyazawa won the Japan Academy Prize best actress award for her role in Her Love Boils Bathwater, with supporting actress Hana Sugisaki also taking home a prize at the 2017 awards.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

Family drama is, after all, Japan’s representative genre and is featured once again with Miwa Nishikawa’s adaptation of her own novel, The Long Excuse (永い言い訳, Nagai Iiwake).

long excuse posterMasahiro Motoki makes a welcome return to leading man status as a self-centered B-list celebrity and former author who finds himself largely unmoved after his wife is killed in an accident but later bonds with the bereaved children of her best friend who died alongside her.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

When talking of family drama, one most often thinks of Ozu and of the gentle passing of time as the old are left alone to contemplate the vagaries of life and young ones make a start on their own. Koji Fukada’s Harmonium (淵に立つ, Fuchi ni Tatsu) is not Ozu, it’s not the wry eye of Yoshimitsu Morita in The Family Game, or of Sogo Ishii in the Crazy Family, it’s a harsh and unforgiving look the status of the modern family unit.

harmoniumYou can check out our review of this one from the London East Asia Film Festival and it’s also scheduled for a UK release courtesy of Eureka Entertainment in June 2017 following a cinema run from 5th May.

Eureka trailer (English subtitles)

It would be a stretch to describe Tetsuya Mariko’s Destruction Babies (ディストラクション・ベイビーズ) as a family drama but in a way it sort of is in its dissection of the relationship between two orphaned brothers.

destruction-babiesBeyond nihilism, Destruction Babies paints a bleak prognosis for the youth of Japan who live without hope, disconnected from reality, and know only the sensation of violence. You can check out our review of the film here from its screening in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme, and it’s also currently available in the UK courtesy of distributor Third Window Films.

Original trailer (English Subtitles)

Concluding the list of newer mainstream releases is the first in the festival’s anime strand – Naoko Yamada’s A Silent Voice (聲の形, Koe no Katachi).

silent-voiceDistributed in the UK by Anime Limited, this alternately heartrending and heartwarming drama examines the effects of social stigma, disibility, and the legacy of cruelty as its perfectly matched central pair confront the ghosts of their respective pasts and futures. You can check out our review from the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme over here (mild spoilers for the concluding half of the film).

International trailer (dialogue free, English captions)

Revisiting the past in an altogether different sort of way, Nippon Connection will also play host to two films from Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno Reboot Project. Roman Porno was a fairly short lived offshoot of the “pink” genre, essentially softcore pornography intended to bring the dwindling cinema audiences back through the promise of sex and (sometimes) violence. In celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Roman Porno line, Nikkatsu have brought it back as a special tribute with five directors hired to film their take on the classic genre – Sion Sono, Hideo Nakata, Akihiko Shiota, Kazuya Shiraishi and Isao Yukisada.

The first of two featured in the festival is Kazuya Shiraishi’s Dawn of the Felines (牝猫たち, Mesuneko Tachi) . dawn of the felinesFrom the director of Twisted Justice and Devil’s Path, Dawn of the Felines follows the adventures of three prostitutes in Tokyo’s red light district.

Trailer (English subtitles, NSFW)

Akihiko Shiota directed one of the best (and criminally underseen) films of the 2000s in 2005’s Canary and his instalment in the Reboot series, Wet Woman in the Wind (風に濡れた女, Kaze ni Nureta Onna), proved an unexpected festival hit receiving high praise from critics at Locarno.

wet woman in the windShiota’s film follows a former playwright who tries to get out of town for some peace and quiet but runs into a nymphomaniac waitress instead. Oh well, a change is as good as a rest?

Original trailer (English subtitles, NSFW!)

The full programme is announced on 29th April when tickets are also expected to go on sale via the official Nippon Connection website. You can also keep up with the festival via their Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram.

Survival Family to Open Udine Far East Film Festival 2017!

udine 19 bannerThe premier European showcase for East Asian cinema, Udine Far East Film Festival, has now announced the complete programme for the 19th edition set to take place from 21 – 29th April, 2017.

There are a total of 83 movies in the lineup this year from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam including narrative, documentary, brand new and classic films.

Survival family landscaepThe festival will open with the latest film from Shinobu Yaguchi (Water Boys, Swing Girls, Wood Job) – Survival Family (サバイバルファミリー) in which an ordinary Tokyo family decides to escape from the city following a long term power outage.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

Herman Yau’s Shock Wave (拆彈專家) – a HK thriller starring Andy Lau will close the festival on April 29

shock wave posterTake a look at Andy in action in the official trailer (English subtitles)

Other highlights include Feng Xiaogang’s I Am Not Madame Bovary (我不是潘金莲, Wǒ Búshì Pān Jīnlián)

I-Am-Not-Madame-Bovary-posterStarring Fang Bingbing, this story of a small town woman taking on the Chinese legal system after her husband falsely accuses her of having an affair has been picking up awards all along the international festival trail.

Trailer (English subtitles)

The latest film from Naoko Ogigami (Kamome Diner, Megane) Close-Knit (彼らが本気で編むときは, Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki wa)

close knit posterA heartwarming tale of a little girl who takes refuge at the home of her uncle and his transgender girlfriend, Close-Knit marks a welcome return to the warm and quirky Ogigami world.

Trailer (English subtitles)

Another director making a welcome return is Nobuhiro Yamashita whose two 2016 releases both arrive at the festival.

my uncle posterMy Uncle (ぼくのおじさん, Boku no Ojisan) stars Ryuhei Matsuda as an eccentric philosophy lecturer who leeches off his nephew’s family until he unexpectedly meets a woman, falls in love, and follows her to Hawaii!

Trailer (no subtitles)

Yamashita’s Over the Fence (オーバー・フェンス) is also featured in the festival

over the fence posterAmong Yamashita’s more serious films, Over the Fence stars Joe Odagiri as a broken hearted young man who returns to his hometown after his wife leaves him.

Trailer (English subtitles)

There will also be a special screening of one of Yamashita’s earliest efforts, Ramblers – you can check out our review here but this tale of two not quite friends lost in the mountains is filled with Yamashita’s trademark laidback style and laconic humour.

Hitoshi One’s Scoop! which scooped up a few awards of its own will also be a part of the Japanese strand.

scoop!Loosely based on a 1985 film by Masato Harada, Scoop! Stars Masaharu Fukuyama as an amoral paparazzo.

Trailer (no subtitles)

Korean films on offer include The Last Princess, and Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned, both of which we’ve reviewed previously.

Park Kwang-hyun’s Fabricated City (조작된 도시, Jojakdwen Doshi) is set to bring some high-tech thrills to the cinema screen

fabricated city Ji Chang-wook plays a top gamer who suddenly finds himself trapped in a real world conspiracy when he is framed for a shocking crime.

Trailer (English subtitles)

Meanwhile fans of gothic horror can content themselves with Lim Dae-woong’s House of the Disappeared (시간위의 집,  Shiganwiui Jib)

House of the DisappearedThis mystery/thriller stars Kim Yunjin as a former housewife released from prison 25 years after her husband and son disappeared leaving her accused of a crime.

Trailer (English subtitles)

The festival will also be marking 20 years since the Hong Kong hand over with a selection of cinema hits released between 1997 – 2017. The new 4K restoration of Fruit Chan’s long neglected Made in Hong Kong is a definite highlight.

made in hong kongThere will also be a small strand of recent Chinese indie including Knife in the Clear Water (清水里的刀子) which we reviewed thanks to Festival Scope’s partnership with International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Restored classics include a screening of the late Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill, as well as three Philippine films from the ’70s and ’80s, Brocka’s Cain and Abel, De Leon’s Moments in a Stolen Dream, and O’Hara’s Three Years Without a God.

The full list of 83 movies includes:

CAMBODIA (1)
Jailbreak, Jimmy HENDERSON, prison-martial arts-dark comedy, Cambodia 2017, International Premiere

CHINA  (6)
Duckweed, HAN Han, time-warp nostalgic drama, China 2017, International Festival Premiere
Hide and Seek, LIU Jie, class-struggle thriller, China 2016, European Premiere
I Am Not Madame Bovary, FENG Xiaogang, eternal lawsuit dramedy, China 2016, Italian Premiere
Mr. Zhu’s Summer, SONG Haolin, bitter-sweet school drama, China 2017, World Premiere
Someone to Talk to, LIU Yulin, divorce drama, China 2016, Italian Premiere
Soul on a String, ZHANG Yang, Tibetan-western road movie, China 2016, Italian Premiere (with Trento Film Festival)

HONG KONG/CHINA (3)
Kung Fu Yoga, Stanley TONG, Jackie-Bollywood style-action comedy, China/HK /India 2017, Italian Premiere
Extraordinary Mission, Alan MAK, Anthony PUN, drug-war-action-drama, China/HK 2017, International Festival Premiere
Soul Mate, Derek TSANG, girls-best friends drama, HK/China 2016, European Premiere

HONG KONG  (7)
Love Off the Cuff, PANG Ho-cheung, crazy cool comedy, China/HK 2017, International Premiere
Mad World, WONG Chun, mental illness drama, HK 2016, Italian Premiere – “Creative Visions: Hong Kong Cinema 1997-2017”
A Nail Clipper Romance, Jason KWAN, surf and steel romance, HK/China 2017, International Premiere
Shed Skin Papa, Roy SZETO, quirky father-son drama, China/HK 2016, European Premiere
The Sleep Curse, Herman YAU, blood-splattered horror, HK 2017, European Premiere
Shock Wave, Herman YAU, explosive action drama, HK/China 2017, International Festival Premiere – Closing Film
Vampire Cleanup Department, CHIU Sin-hang, YAN Pak-wing, hopping vampire comedy-romance, HK 2017, Italian Premiere

INDONESIA (1)
My Stupid Boss, UPI, zany office comedy, Indonesia 2016, European Premiere

LAOS (1)
Dearest Sister, Mattie DO, Laotian psycho-thriller, Laos/France/Estonia 2016, Italian Premiere

JAPAN  (13)
At the Terrace, YAMAUCHI Kenji, sophisticated drama, Japan 2016, International Premiere
The City of Betrayal, MIURA Daisuke, extramarital romance, Japan 2016, International Premiere
Close-Knit, OGIGAMI Naoko, transgender-family, Japan 2017, Italian Premiere (with Torino Festival LGBTQI Visions)
Hamon: Yakuza Boogie, KOBAYASI Syoutarou, cinephile gangster dark comedy, Japan 2017, International Premiere
Hirugao – Love Affairs in the Afternoon -, NISHITANI Hiroshi, starred-crossed romance, Japan 2017, World Premiere
Love and Other Cults, UCHIDA Eiji, offbeat youth drama, Japan 2017, World Premiere
My Uncle, YAMASHITA Nobuhiro, hipster comedy, Japan 2016, European Premiere
Over the Fence, YAMASHITA Nobuhiro, not-longer-young love story, Japan 2016, European Premiere
Policeman and Me, HIROKI Ryuichi, age-inappropriate romance, Japan 2017, European Premiere
Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow, MORI Yoshitaka, Japanese chess drama, Japan 2016, European Premiere
Scoop!, ONE Hitoshi, paparazzi thriller, Japan 2016, International Festival Premiere
Survival Family, YAGUCHI Shinobu, ecotherapy disaster movie, Japan 2017, European Premiere – Opening Film
TEIICHI – Battle of Supreme High -, NAGAI Akira, manga-like political satire, Japan 2017, World Premiere

MALAYSIA  (1)
Mrs K, HO Yuhang, grindhouse western comedy, Malaysia/HK, 2016, European Premiere

SOUTH KOREA  (13)
Bluebeard, LEE Soo-youn, serial killer at large, SK 2017, Italian Premiere
Canola, CHANG, lost daughter-drama, SK 2016, European Premiere
Confidential Assignment, KIM Sung-hoon, North-South buddy-buddy cops, SK 2017, International Festival Premiere
Derailed, LEE Sung-Tae, Young&Dangerous drama, SK 2016, International Premiere
Fabricated City, PARK Kwang-hyun, high-tech videogame thriller, SK 2017, International Festival Premiere
House of the Disappeared, LIM Dae-woong, haunted house thriller, SK 2017, International Premiere
The Last Princess, HUR Jin-ho, period melodrama, SK 2016, Italian Premiere
Master, CHO Ui-seok, political crime thriller, SK 2016, International Festival Premiere
New Trial, KIM Tae-yun, wrongly-accused legal drama, SK 2017, International Festival Premiere
The Prison, NA Hyun, jailhouse action drama, SK 2017, Italian Premiere
Run-Off, KIM Jong-hyun, zero-to-hero ice hockey drama, SK 2016, European Premiere
Split, CHOI Kook-hee, bowling-action-drama, SK 2016, International Festival Premiere
Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned, UM Tae-hwa, lost-in-frozen-time, SK 2016, Italian Premiere

THE PHILIPPINES  (3)
Die Beautiful, Jun Robles LANA, multicolour transgender dramedy, The Philippines 2016, Italian Premiere (with FVG Pride)
Mercury Is Mine, Jason Paul LAXAMANA, black violent comedy, The Philippines 2016, International Premiere
Seclusion, Erik MATTI, religious horror, The Philippines 2016, European Premiere

TAIWAN  (4)
52Hz, I Love You, WEI Te-sheng, St. Valentine musical, Taiwan 2017, European Festival Premiere
At Café 6, Neal WU, coming-of-age dramedy, Taiwan 2016, European Premiere
Godspeed, CHUNG Mong-hong, gangster meets taxi-driver, Taiwan 2016,  European Premiere
Mon Mon Mon Monsters, Giddens KO, school bullying comedy horror, Taiwan 2017, European Premiere

THAILAND  (3)
One Day, Banjong PISANTHANAKUN, romance on the snow, Thailand 2016, European Premiere
Siam Square, Pairach KHUMWAN, ghost-youth-drama, Thailand 2017, International Premiere
Take Me Home, Kongkiat KHOMSIRI, homecoming horror, Thailand 2016, European Premiere

VIETNAM  (1)
Tam Cam: The Untold Story, Thanh Van (Veronica) NGO, Cinderella meets wuxiapian, Vietnam 2016, European Premiere

Out Of Competition

DOCUMENTARIES  (3)
Mifune: The Last Samurai, Steven OKAZAKI, director’s cut, Japan/USA, 2016, Italian Premiere
Old Days, HAN Sun- hee, SK 2016, Italian Premiere
Sunday Beauty Queen, Baby Ruth VILLARAMA, The Philippines/HK 2016, Italian Premiere

INFO SCREENING (1)
Ramblers, YAMASHITA Nobuhiro, from the manga of Tsuge Yoshiharu, Japan 2004, Italian Premiere

CREATIVE VISIONS: HONG KONG CINEMA 1997-2017 (10)
Made in Hong Kong, Fruit CHAN, HK 1997 – restored version 2017, International Premiere

A Simple Life, Ann HUI, HK 2012
Accident, Soi CHEANG, HK 2009
After This Our Exile, Patrick TAM, HK 2006
Infernal Affairs, Alan MAK, Andrew LAU, HK 2002
Ip Man, Wilson YIP, HK 2008
Kung Fu Hustle, Stephen CHOW, HK 2004
Love in a Puff, PANG Ho-cheung, HK 2010
The Mission, Johnnie TO, HK 1999
The Grandmaster, WONG Kar-wai, HK 2013

CHINA NOW:  NOT FOR COMMERCIAL USE  (4)
Fish Tank, LIU Haoge, experimental animation short, China 2016, Italian Premiere
Knife in the Clear Water, WANG Xuebo, drama, China 2016, Italian Premiere
The Road, ZHANG Zanbo, documentary, China/Denmark 2015, Italian Premiere
What Happened in the Past Dragon Year, SUN Xun, experimental animation short, China 2014, Italian Premiere

FRESH WAVE SHORTS  (4)
Even Ants Strive for Survival,    REN Xia, HK 2017, European Premiere
First of May, LAM Chi-yu, HK 2017, European Premiere
Life on the Line, Ashley CHEUNG, HK 2017, European Premiere
Speak Low, WONG Fong-yi, HK 2017, European Premiere

RESTORED CLASSICS  (4)
Branded to Kill, SUZUKI Seijun, Japan 1967 – restored version 2016, International Festival Premiere
Cain and Abel, Lino BROCKA, The Philippines 1982 – restored version 2016, International Premiere
Moments in a Stolen Dream, Mike DE LEON, The Philippines 1977 – restored version 2016, European Premiere
Three Years Without God, Mario O’HARA, The Philippines 1976 – restored version 2016, Italian Premiere

The festival takes place in the Northern Italian town of Udine from April 21 – 29, and you can find out all about how to attend via the official website which also includes details of the extensive program of special events running alongside the main film festival.