Japan Cuts Announces Lineup for Online 2020 Edition

The latest festival to head online due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Japan Cuts has unveiled another characteristically packed programme of recent Japanese cinema hits (plus a few retro classics) available to stream within the US July 17 – 30.

Feature Slate

  • Extro – mockumentary in which a 64-year-old dental technician tries to fulfil a life long dream as a jidaigeki extra
  • Fukushima 50 – real life drama starring Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe inspired by the workers who stayed behind to mitigate the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
  • It Feels So Good – Steamy drama from Haruhiko Arai starring Tasuku Emoto as a young man retreating to his hometown where he reconnects with an old flame (Kumi Takiuchi) in the days before her wedding to another man.
  • Labyrinth of Cinema – final film from Nobuhiko Obayashi in which three youngsters find themselves lost in the movies.
  • Mrs. Noisy – a blocked writer blames all her problems on the noisy woman next-door in Chihiro Amano’s quiet plea for a little more understanding. Review.
  • My Sweet Grappa Remedies – latest from Akiko Ohku in which a lonely middle-aged woman finds love and friendship with the help of an outgoing colleague. Review.
  • On-Gaku: Our Sound – award-winning animation in which a trio of bored high school students decide to start a band.
  • Special Actors – meta-narrative from One Cut of the Dead‘s Shinichiro Ueda in which a shy aspiring actor joins an unusual agency where he’s asked to play a part in other people’s “real life”.
  • Tora-san, Wish You Were Here (Tora-san #50) – loving tribute to the classic Tora-san series
  • Voices in the Wind – a young woman travels back to her hometown in search of the famous “wind telephone” which has become a beacon of hope for those bereaved by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Next Generation

  • Beyond the Night – a brooding outsider connects with a young woman trapped in an abusive marriage.
  • Kontora – a young woman uses her grandfather’s wartime diary to look for buried treasure in Ansul Chauhan’s Bad Poetry Tokyo followup. Review.
  • Life: Untitled – Kana Yamada adapts her own stage play set in the office of a Tokyo escort service.
  • The Murders of Oiso – the everyday lives of four construction workers in a small town are thrown into disarray by the murder of their former teacher.
  • My Identity – a Taiwanese-Japanese teenager flees Tokyo with a harassed office worker.
  • Roar – parallel stories of violence in which a young man becomes involved with a vagrant paid to beat people up, while a radio host tries to fend off the aggressive attention of her boss.
  • Sacrifice – a former cult member who predicted the 2011 earthquake continues to have mysterious visions, while her classmate begins to suspect that another student is responsible for a murder.

Classics

Documentary Focus

  • Book-Paper-Scissors – Nanako Hirose explores the life of book designer Nobuyoshi Kikuchi. Review.
  • i -Documentary of the Journalist- – documentary following outspoken journalist Isoko Mochizuki.
  • Prison Circle – documentary exploring therapy programs for prison inmates hoping to reintegrate into mainstream society
  • Reiwa Uprising – the latest documentary from Kazuo Hara follows newly formed left-leaning political party Reiwa Shinsengumi.
  • Seijo Story – 60 Years of Making Films – documentary exploring the 60-year professional relationship between Nobuhiko Obayashi and Kyoko Hanyu who met as students at Seijo University in 1959.
  • Sending Off – documentary by Ian Thomas Ash following a doctor who cares for terminally ill patients across rural Japan.
  • What Can You Do About It – a filmmaker with ADHD documents his friendship with a relative who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Experimental Spotlight

There will also be a number of complementary events on offer including a series of panel discussions on such topics as the career of the late Nobuhiko Obayashi, cinema during the pandemic, and documentary, plus a live Q&A with Shinichiro Ueda, CUT ABOVE Awards: Koichi Sato & Ken Watanabe, and the Closing Night Live Q&A with the Obayashi Prize Recipient.

Limited numbers of “tickets” are available for each film and can been pre-booked from July 10 to be viewed July 17 to 30. After you start playing a film you will have 30 hours to finish watching. Features stream for $7 and shorts for $1.50 – $3.00. You can also pick up an all access pass for $99 or a selection of bundles for each strand. Full details for all the films as well ticketing links (when available) can be found on the official Japan Cuts platform, and you can also keep up with all the festival news as well as the year round programme via Japan Society New York’s website, or by following them on Twitter and Facebook.