Now in its fifth year, Toronto’s Japanese Film Festival is back with another excellent selection of recent and classic cinema hits. Expanded to include a few extra guests and even more movies, the festival runs from 8th – 28th June and will also boast an appearance by one of Japan’s best loved actors, Joe Odagiri, who will introduce both Her Love Boils Bathwater and Over the Fence.
The festival kicks off with a screening of Fueled: A Man they Called Pirate, an adaptation of the novel by Naoki Hyakuta. Inspired by real events and directed by Eternal Zero‘s Takashi Yamazaki, A Man they Called Pirate is the story of one very determined Japanese oil man who is convinced his country’s future lies in oil rather than coal and commandeers an oil tanker to sail to Iran to prove his point.
Masaharu Fukuyama stars as a jaded paparazzo rediscovering his photojournalist mojo in Hitoshi One’s oddly moving satire of the gutter press, Scoop!. Review.
Romantic dreams so often turn to nightmares, but rarely with the blood soaked fury of Keisuke Yoshida’s Himeanole.
Ai Hashimoto and Aoi Miyazaki star as a mother and daughter cruelly separated by fate in Yasuhiro Yoshida’s family melodrama, Birthday Wishes.
Part one of Norihiro Koizumi’s Karuta themed drama Chihayafuru stars three of the best up and coming Japanese actors in Suzu Hirose, Mone Kamishiraishi, and Shuhei Nomura.
Part II will also screen at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in July.
A sequel to Samurai Hustle, Samurai Hustle Returns continues in the same vein as the hapless Edo era heroes finally get home only to see it under threat from unscrupulous lords.
Rudolf the Black Cat follows its titular kitty as he finds himself lost and homeless in Tokyo after venturing outside of his native Gifu.
Inspired by the hit TV show, Master is headed to the big screen in the Midnight Diner movie which sees him take in a mysterious young girl. Review.
The second Midnight Diner movie will also be screening at the Japanese Cultural Centre Toronto during July.
Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow stars Kenichi Matsuyama in a biopic of tragic shogi player Satoshi who gave everything in the name of the game. Review.
A highlight of this year’s programme, Tai Kato’s little seen and recently restored documentary The Ondekoza was filmed over a period of two years and follows the small group of musicians who went on to create the taiko drumming style which has become so popular overseas.
A big winner at this year’s Japan Academy Prize, Her Love Boils Bathwater is another heartwarming/rending family drama from Capturing Dad director Ryota Nakano and stars Rie Miyazawa as goodhearted woman suddenly struck by tragedy. Joe Odagiri will also be attending to present the film. Review.
One of two films recently released by Nobuhiro Yamashita, Over the Fence is the third in a series of film adaptations inspired by the beautifully bleak works of Hakodate native Yasushi Sato. Joe Odagiri will also be in attendance to present the film in which he plays a recently divorced man returning to his home town but failing to start over until he meets eccentric bar girl/zoo keeper Satoshi. Review.
Haruka Ayase stars in Honnouji Hotel – a classic example of the time slip movie in which she steps into a hotel elevator only to emerge at the 16th century court of Oda Nobunaga (Shinichi Tsutsumi)!
Comedian Yo Oizumi plays an aspiring mangaka with big dreams and possibly deluded hopes who finally discovers the power of his ordinariness during the zombie apocalypse in Shinsuke Sato’s blockbuster action/comedy I am a Hero. Review.
Yoji Yamada reunites with the cast of Tokyo Family and a few more old friends for another tale of humorous family drama, What a Wonderful Family. Review.
Japan’s housing estates were once symbols of post-war aspiration but now they’re largely deserted and home only to elderly residents prepared to put up with cramped conditions, no lifts, and basic amenities. Junji Sakamoto returns with a surreal comedy satirising everything from gossipy village mentality to alien invasion in the warmhearted if wistful Danchi (AKA The Projects). Review.
Two sisters return to their family home which is about to be torn down only to find a collection of recipes left behind by their late Taiwanese mother who died twenty years before in Mitsuhito Shiraha’s food/family drama, What’s for Dinner, Mom?
Godzilla is back and bigger than ever in Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi’s Shin Godzilla.
Gukoroku: Traces of Sin begins in classic thriller territory as depressed reporter Tanaka immerses himself in the still unsolved brutal murder of an “ideal” family in an effort to distance himself from his sister’s incarceration for child neglect. As might be expected he discovers a far darker trail of social inequality and the damaging effects of elitism coupled with the legacy of childhood trauma. Review.
When all the power suddenly goes off, one ordinary family is forced to flee the city in search of life on the land but how do you cope with the apocalypse when you’re used to 24hr convenience and efficient public services? Hilariously, according to Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest comedy drama, Survival Family. Review.
Another in the long line of movies focussing on samurai who fight with things other than katana, The Flower and the Sword is set in the exciting world of flower arrangement!
A sequel to the hit TV Drama, Hirugao is an old fashioned romantic melodrama in which separated lovers are reunited only to find their love story threatened by forces outside of their control. Review.
Lee Sang-il adapts another Shuichi Yoshida novel for three interconnected tales of doubt and suspicion following an unsolved, brutal Tokyo murder in Rage.
Award winning animation In this Corner of the World centres on the life of a young woman of Hiroshima towards the end of the war.
The ninja aren’t up for Oda Nobunaga’s plans to create a peaceful Japan under his control so they’re up to all their secretive tricks in Yoshihiro Nakamura’s epic jidaigeki, Mumon, The Land of Stealth.
After the festival concludes, the Japanese Cultural Centre Toronto will also be screening part II of Chihayafuyu and Midnight Diner during July as well as upcoming anime Hirune Hime: Ancient and the Magic Tablet.
The festival runs at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto from 8th to 28th June, 2017 and you can find more details about all the films, guests, and events on the festival’s official website and keep up with all the latest news via their Facebook page and Twitter feed.