Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama

blue sky maiden stillRunning at BFI Southbank through October and November, Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama aims to showcase the changing roles of women in Japanese cinema in the pre-war and post-war eras through a series of films starring some of the best known actresses of the time including Ayako Wakao (who features on the poster in her first role working with director Yasuzo Masumura in Blue Sky Maiden), ’30s megastar and later director Kinuyo Tanaka, Ozu’s muse Setsuko Hara, Rashomon’s Machiko Kiyo, wife and muse of Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida Mariko Okada,  and the iconic Hideko Takamine who began as a child star and went on to work with most of the age’s finest directors.

Season Introduction: Women in Japanese Melodrama

The season will kick off with an introductory lecture on 17th October featuring contributions from Alexander Jacoby and Alejandra Armendáriz-Hernandez who will discuss some of the actresses featured in the season.

Osaka Elegy + Women of the Night

osaka elegyStarring Mizoguchi’s frequent leading lady Isuzu Yamada, Osaka Elegy centres on a switchboard operator who finds herself trapped in a ruinous relationship with her boss in an effort to save her father who has ruined himself through gambling debts.  16mm. Now screening on blu-ray due to poor quality of 16mm print.

women of the night stillWomen of the Night, completed in 1948, will screen along side Osaka Elegy (1936) and stars Kinuyo Tanaka in a tale of two sisters trying to survive in the ruined Osaka one of whom is a war widow and the other dangerously involved with a drugs smuggler. 35mm.

Wedding Ring

(c) Shochiku Co., LtdKinuyo Tanaka also stars in Keisuke Kinoshita’s 1950 melodrama Wedding Ring. Starring opposite Toshiro Mifune, Tanaka plays a housewife who travels back and fore from the seaside, where her sickly husband convalesces, to Tokyo where she runs her family’s jewellery store. A chance encounter with a strapping doctor (Mifune) on a train has unforeseen consequences as the pair grow closer and the husband begins to realise that he cannot provide the happiness his wife is seeking. 35mm.

Clothes of Deception

「偽れる盛装」(C)KADOKAWA1951Clothes of Deception is directed by Kozaburo Yoshimura who was the subject (along with Kaneto Shindo) of the BFI’s previous Japanese director retrospective in 2012 in which the film was also screened. Rashomon’s Machiko Kyo stars opposite Yasuko Fujita as a geisha in Kyoto’s historic Gion district whose life contrasts strongly with that of her sister who works for the tourist board. 35mm.

The Mistress (aka Wild Geese)

toyoda wild geese still 1Shiro Toyoda’s melodrama stars Hideko Takamine as a divorced woman who becomes the mistress of an elderly money lender to support her father but dares to dream of a happier future after falling for a young student. 35mm.

An Inlet of Muddy Water

inlet of muddy water still 2Tadashi Imai’s adaptation of a number of stories by 19th century writer Ichiyo Higuchi came top in Kinema Junpo’s best of list for 1953 and features three stories of women suffering at the hands of men. 35mm.

The Eternal Breasts

eternal breasts still 1Kinuyo Tanaka, one of Japan’s great actresses, was not the nation’s first female director as she is sometimes described, but she was the first to have a career as a film director. The Eternal Breasts is Tanaka’s third directorial effort (following Love Letter and The Moon has Risen) and tells the story of tanka poet Fumiko Nakajo who passed away from breast cancer in 1954 at only 31 years old. 35mm.

Floating Clouds 

floating clouds still 1Hideko Takamine and Masayuki Mori play two former lovers cast adrift in the new post-war world world where their love is both impossible and impossible to escape. Naruse’s melancholy melodrama is the story of a woman who strives for self-determination while chasing a man who craves only respectability, as trapped and confused as her still divided nation. 35mm.

Elegy of The North

elegy of the north stilll 1Masayuki Mori stars again in another romantic melodrama this time for Heinosuke Gosho (Where Chimneys are Seen), opposite Yoshiko Kuga who falls for Mori’s conflicted architect as an escape from her moribund marriage while Mori’s wife, played by Hideko Takamine, is having an affair with a young student. 16mm.

Tokyo Twilight

tokyo twilight still 1Among the darkest of Ozu’s post-war movies, Tokyo Twilight is a less forgiving family drama in which Setsuko Hara plays the older of two sisters who has returned home from a failing marriage with her little girl in tow only to find out that her unmarried student younger sister is facing an unwanted pregnancy. 35mm.

The Blue Sky Maiden (aka The Cheerful Girl)

blue sky maiden still 2Blue Sky Maiden, Masumura’s second film, is his first in colour and his first to star the radiant Ayako Wakao who would later become something like his muse. Light and bright and youthful, Blue Sky Maiden is not without the Masumura bite in its tale of an illegitimate child deposited in her cowardly father’s home and among his unpleasant family but bearing all of her sorrows with a cheerful determination which resolutely refuses to allow them to rob her of her happiness. 35mm.

An Affair at Akitsu (aka Akitsu Springs)

akitsu springs still 1Soon after An Affair at Akitsu, also known as Akitsu Springs, Mariko Okada would marry the film’s director, Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida, and the pair would go on create a series of “anti-melodramas” which adopted typical melodrama storylines but shot them in a deliberately detached manner. An Affair at Akitsu is Yoshida’s attempt at Shochiku’s most representative genre but, aided by the astonishing performance of Okada, he conjures a deeply felt meditation on post-war malaise as its lovers find themselves unable to escape the false paradise of Akitsu Springs. 35mm.

The Shape of Night

Shape of the night still 1Recently restored, Noburu Nakamura’s The Shape of Night stars Miyuki Kuwano as a young woman forced into prostitution by a no good boyfriend. 35mm.

Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama runs at BFI Southbank from 17th October to 29th November and tickets are already on general sale.


The Day After Opens London Korean Film Festival 2017

The day after posterFollowing a long series of teaser screenings which culminated with Cannes hit The Villainess, the London Korean Film Festival has now revealed the complete lineup for this year’s event which runs from 26th October to 19th November 2017.

Opening Gala

The day After Still 2The London Korean Film Festival 2017 will open with one of three films released this year by prolific director Hong Sang-soo – The Day After. Another whimsical comedy of manners from Hong, The Day After stars Kim Min-hee as the new girl at a publishing firm completely unaware that she’s taken the place of the previous new girl who has been “let go” after an affair with the boss ended badly.

Closing Gala

first lap stillClosing the festival will be the second film from Kim Dae-hwan who picked up the best new director award at Locarno for this awkward tale of familial disconnection. The First Lap revolves around young couple Ji-young and Su-hyeon who are not married but have been living together for a few years. Discovering they might be about to have a child of their own, the pair decide to try and reconnect with their old families before starting a new one.

Special Focus: Korean Noir, Illuminating the Dark Side of Society

The Merciless still 1The special focus for this year’s festival is Korean Noir and Korean cinema has certainly had a long and proud history of gritty, existential crime thrillers. Running right through from the ’60s to recent Cannes hit The Merciless, the Korean Noir strand aims to illuminate the dark side of society through its compromised heroes and conflicted villains.

  • Black Hair – Lee Man-hee’s 1960s genre hybrid neatly mixes noir with melodrama as a gang boss’ wife is blackmailed after having been raped by one of her husband’s underlings only to be facially disfigured and cast away when her husband learns of her assault. Read the Review.
  • The Last Witness – Lee Doo-young’s 1980 mystery thriller follows a police officer’s investigation into the murder of a brewery owner which leads him back to events of 25 years earlier and into the darkest parts of his own soul. Director Lee Doo-young will be in attendance for a Q&A.
  • Dead End – Darkly humorous 19 minute short directed by City of Madness’ Kim Sung-soo.
  • The Rules of the Game – released in 1994, the second film from Jan Hyun-soo follows a young man who comes to the city to join a gang but ends up selling his girlfriend into prostitution.
  • Green Fish – the 1997 debut from the now legendary Lee Chang-dong follows a recently demobbed soldier who returns home to find nothing waiting for him and eventually falls in with gangsters.
  • Nowhere to Hide – Lee Myung-se’s experimental 1999 noir stars Ahn Sung-ki as a ruthless gangster.
  • KilimanjaroThe Shameless director Oh Seung-uk’s 2000 debut also stars Ahn Sung-ki as a gangster alongside Park Shin-yang playing a pair of twin brothers one of whom is a criminal and the other a policeman. Director Oh Seung-uk will be in attendance for a Q&A.
  • Die badVeteran / Battleship Island’s Ryoo Seung-wan made his debut with this 2000 four part crime themed portmanteau film.
  • A Bittersweet Life –  Kim Ji-woon’s 2005 existential hitman thriller stars Lee Byung-hun as a conflicted mobster.
  • A Dirty Carnival – Yoo Ha’s celebrated gangland thriller from 2006
  • New World – an all powerful policeman tries to bring down a crime syndicate through underhanded means while an undercover cop begins to wonder if his mission will ever end in Park Hoon-jung’s tense psychological thriller.
  • Coin Locker Girl – a baby found in a coin locker gets sold to a gangland organ trafficker who decides to raise her as her own in Han Jun-hee’s dark 2013 drama
  • The Merciless – Premiered at Cannes in 2017 Byung Sung-hyun’s The Merciless is a violent thriller in which an undercover cop and the leader of a prison gang team up for gangland domination.

The Noir section will also feature a panel event, Forum on Korean Noir, featuring Eddie Muller (president Film Noir Foundation), Huh Moonyoung (film critic), Last Witness director Lee Doo-young, and Kilimanjaro director Oh Seung-uk.

Cinema Now 

master still one.jpgThe best in recent cinema across the previous year ranging from period drama to financial thriller, gangland action, social drama, and horror.

  • Come, Together – Shin Dong-il examines the destructive effects of financial pressures on a middle class family.
  • Crime City – turf war drama starring  Ma Dong-seok. Director Kang Yoon-sung will be present for a Q&A.
  • In Between Seasons – Intimate family drama following a mother’s reaction to discovering the relationship between her son and his best friend is closer than she thought.
  • Warriors of the Dawn – historical drama set in 1592 in which a group of mercenaries attempt to protect the newly crowned prince on a perilous journey.
  • Master – corporate thriller in which a team of fraud specialists led by Gang Dong-won attempt to unmask a dodgy financial guru played by Lee Byung-hun. Read the Review.
  • The Mimic – horror movie in which a monster lures children away to eat them by impersonating familiar voices.

Indie Fire Power

Bamseom Pirates Seoul InfernoProgrammed by Tony Rayns, this year’s indie strand has a special focus on documentary filmmaker Jung Yoon-suk who will be attending the festival in person to present his films.

  • Non Fiction Diary – 2014 documentary directed by Jung Yoon-suk centring on a notorious clan of serial killing cannibals. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • The White House in My Country – documentary short by Jung Yoon-suk. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • Ho Chi Minh – documentary short by Jung Yoon-suk. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • Bamseom Pirates Inferno – 2017 documentary by Jung Yoon-suk focussing on an underground punk band. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • Merry Christmas Mr. Mo – indie comedy/drama from Lim Dae-hyung in which a dying barber’s only wish is to star in a short film directed by his estranged son.
  • A Confession Expecting a Rejection – witty drama following characters on and off screen as they discuss various topics from failed relationships to disappointing film courses.

Women’s Voices 

jamsil still 1Focussing on female viewpoints this year’s Women’s Voices strand includes one narrative feature and four short films.

  • Jamsil – drama focussing on the lives of two women. Director Lee Wanmin will be present for a Q&A.


  • Candle Wave Feminists – an examination of the misogyny hidden inside the campaign to unseat Park Geun-hye Director Kangyu Garam will be present for a Q&A.
  • My Turn – 15 minute drama focussing on pregnancy in the workplace.
  • Mild Fever – 36 minute drama in which a secret comes between a husband and wife.
  • Night Working – 28 minute drama exploring the relationship between a Korean factory worker and a Cambodian migrant.

Classics Revisited: Bae Chang-ho Retrospective

whale hunting still 2Three films from legendary director Bae Chang-ho each starring Ahn Sung-ki.

  • People in the Slum – drama revolving around a single mother who always wears black gloves and has a rebellious son with a tendency to steal things.
  • Whale Hunting – a boy gets rejected by his crush and runs away to hunt whales but ends up wandering round with a tramp and helping a mute girl find her voice again.
  • The Dream – a monk breaks his vows of chastity, attacks a young woman, leaves the monastery to start a family with her, but never captures her heart.


good bye my heroWorkers’ rights and examinations of the Yongsan tragedy in which five civilians and one police officer lost their lives during a protest against redevelopment dominate the feature documentary strand.

  • Two Doors – documentary examining the Yongsan tragedy. Director Kim Il-rhan will be present for a Q&A.
  • The Remnants – documentary examining the Yongsan tragedy. Director Kim Il-rhan will be present for a Q&A.
  • Goodbye My Hero – an unemployed father battles for reinstatement
  • Dream of Iron – industrial ship building documentary


lost in the moonlight still 1Two charming yet very different animated adventures aimed at a younger/family audience.

  • Lost in the Moonlight – a shy young girl dreaming of the spotlight gets lost in a fantasy world.
  • Franky and Friends: A Tree of Life – Franky and Friends head off on a journey to save the world after nearly destroying it through wastefulness

Mise-en-scène Shorts

tombstone refugee still 1A selection of shorts from the Mise-en-scène International Short Film Festival.

  • Tombstone Refugee – alternative burial drama.
  • Home Without Me – a young girl looks for familial love
  • Thirsty – a man struggles to makes ends meet
  • Between You and Me – behind the scenes comedy drama.
  • Dive – drama about a boy’s love of water
  • The Insect Woman – centres on a young girl obsessed with insects.
  • 2 Nights 3 Days – follows a couple on the eve of their wedding anniversary.

Artist Video

This year’s collaboration with LUX | Artists’ Moving Image focusses on the work of two artists – Lim Minouk and Koo Dong-hee.

Lim Minouk

  • New Town Ghost
  • Wrong Question
  • Portable Keeper
  • The Weight of Hands
  • The Possibility of the Half
  • S.O.S. – Adoptive Dissensus

Koo Dong-hee

  • Tragedy Competition
  • The King Fish
  • Under the Vein: I Spell on You
  • Crossxpollination
  • What’s Not There

The London Korean Film Festival runs from 26th November to the 19th October at multiple Central London venues before heading out on tour to Glasgow Film Theatre, Manchester HOME, Sheffield Showroom, Nottingham Broadway Cinema, and Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre.

The full programme including details for all the films, screening times and ticketing information will be available on the official website in due course but you can also keep up with all the latest developments via the festival’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Flickr, YouTube and Instagram channels.

A Day Makes UK Premiere at Nottingham’s Mayhem Film Festival

A Day posterCho Sun-ho’s time-loop drama A Day (하루, Haroowill make its UK premiere at Nottingham’s genre leaning film festival, Mayhem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJun-young, a successful surgeon but less than successful father, witnesses a car accident involving his daughter only to wake up as if it were just a dream. Realising that the events of his dream are proceeding as he saw them, Jun-young tries to save his daughter only to fail and have the exact same events repeat themselves over and over again until he meets another man in the same position who has been trying to save the life of the other victim. Together, the two men unite to save the lives of their loved ones and escape the nightmarish temporal loop in which they are both trapped.

Fantasia film festival trailer

A Day screens at 1.45pm on 14th October.

The festival will also play host to Sion Sono’s surreal sci-fi/horror odyssey Tag which receives a long awaited UK DVD/blu-ray release from Eureka this November.

tagTag screens on 14th October at 12pm. Check out our review of the film here.

Mayhem runs at Nottingham’s Broadway cinema from 12th – 15th October, 2017. You can find the complete lineup as well as ticketing information on the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Camera Japan Announces Complete Programme for 2017

At the terrace テラスにてCamera Japan, the premier Dutch showcase for Japanese film, returns for 2017 with more than 40 films screening in two cites over two weekends – Rotterdam 21st – 24th September, and Amsterdam from 29th September to 1st October. With so many films on offer it get can a bit overwhelming, so here’s a handy list broken down by genre and/or medium.

Current Cinema – Indie / Arthouse

bangkok-nitesAs usual Camera Japan has brought together some of the most eagerly anticipated recent independent and arthouse features including the latest from festival darlings Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Miwa Nishikawa, to Naoko Ogigami’s family comedy/drama Close-Knit, sleeper Cannes hit Oh Lucy! and a host of soon to be classics from up and coming directors.

  • At the Terrace – Adapting his own stage play, Kenji Yamauchi’s At the Terrace is a scathing satirical comedy charting the gradual disintegration of the bourgeoisie over the course of one very awkward post dinner party drinking session. Review. Screening at Rotterdam only – 21st Sept. 2.30pm, 23rd Sept. 5pm
  • Bangkok Nites – The latest from Saudade director Katsuya Tomita who also stars in the film, Bangkok Nites is a sideways look at the continuing effects of colonialism. ReviewRotterdam only, Sept. 24, 1pm. Producers will be present for a Q&A.
  • Before We Vanish – Kiyoshi Kurosawa returns to the sci-fi genre for the first time since 2013’s Real with an idiosyncratic take on the alien invasion movie. Screening with Dutch subtitles only at Rotterdam 21st Sept, 9.30pm / 23rd Sept. 7pm , and at Amsterdam 30th Sept., 7pm. 
  • Close-Knit – Less surreal than her previous films, Ogigami’s heartwarming family drama follows a neglected 11 year old girl who is taken in by her uncle and his transgender girlfriend, Rinko (played by Toma Ikuta). ReviewScreening at Rotterdam 21st Sept. 7.30pm, 22nd Sept. 4.30pm, and Amsterdam 29th Sept. 7pm.
  • Eriko Pretended – Eriko can’t bring herself to admit to her family that her career as an actress has stalled but discovers a new talent after a trip home for a funeral introduces her to the world of professional mourning in the debut feature from Akiyo Fujimura. Screening at Rotterdam only – Sept. 22, 2.30pm, and Sept. 24, 7.15pm.
  • Going the Distance – Asahi is about to marry the love of his life when a face from the past reappears and threatens to come between them. Forced to choose between his wife-to-be, and a “brother” who grew up with him in the same orphanage, Asahi’s life reaches a crisis point in this comedy/drama debut from Yujiro Hamamoto. Screening at Rotterdam only – 21st Sept. 4.30pm, 22nd Sept. 4.45pm
  • Hello/Goodbye – A young girl accidentally discovers her classmate is pregnant whilst trying to steal something from her bag leading the pair to encounter an old woman with alzheimer’s and a mystery she needs solving in this indie feature from Takeo Kikuchi. Screening at Rotterdam only – 21st Sept. 3pm, 24th Sept. 3pm
  • Her Love Boils Bathwater – Capturing Dad’s Ryota Nakano takes a good look at mum in this heartbreaking comedy/drama which stars Rie Miyazawa as a long suffering wife and mother who learns she has a terminal illness and decides to mend her fractured family while she still can. ReviewScreening at Rotterdam 24th Sept., 12.30pm, and Amsterdam 1st Oct. 12.30pm.
  • Journey of the Tortoise – First time feature director Tadashi Nagama draws inspiration from his own relationship with his father as a boy, his dad, and the pet turtle, join an uncle and his fiancée for an anarchic cross country road trip. Screening at Rotterdam only – 21st Sept. 10.15, 24th Sept. 5pm.
  • Kuro – Directed by Joji Koyama and Noriko Tujiko, Kuro is the story of a Japanese woman living in Paris who works in a karaoke bar and cares for her paraplegic lover at home. When a mysterious Mr. Ono arrives, he threatens to destabilise their previously settled lives. Screening at Rotterdam only 23rd Sept., 8.30pm & 10.30pm. The directors will be present for a Q&A.
  • Life and Death on the Shore – Hikari Mitsushima stars in a tale of wartime romance. Part of the festival’s Kyushu focus. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 22nd Sept. 7pm.
  • The Long Excuse – Miwa Nishikawa’s adaptation of her own novel examines the destructive effects of chronic insecurity as a self centred writer loses his wife in an accident but feels nothing only to have his emotional walls knocked down by the grieving family of her best friend. Review. Screening at Rotterdam 21st Sept. 4.45, 23rd Sept. 7.15, and at Amsterdam on 30th Sept., 12.30.
  • Love and Other Cults – Eiji Uchida returns with another tale of wandering youth as a young girl raised in a cult craves real love but struggles to find it in an increasingly strange world. Review. Screening at Rotterdam 21st Sept., 5pm, 22nd Sept. at midnight, and Amsterdam 29th Sept. at midnight. Director Eiji Uchida will be attending the Amsterdam screening for a Q&A.
  • Noise – 12 years after a spate of random stabbings in Akihabara three ordinary people attempt to deal with the longterm effects in Yusaku Matsumoto’s debut feature. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 24th Sept., 7pm. Director and members of the crew will be present for a Q&A.
  • Oh Lucy! – A sleeper hit in Cannes, Atsuko Hirayanagi’s debut is the story of a lonely middle-aged office lady who decides to spice up her life with English lessons but discovers a whole new side of herself when the charismatic teacher (played by Josh Hartnett) gives her a blonde wig and the alter-ego Lucy. Screening once only at Rotterdam, Sept. 24, 12.30pm. 
  • Over the Fence – The last of three films inspired by novels of Yasushi Sato, Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Over the Fence is a tale of new beginnings and the courage it takes to find them. Review. Screening at Rotterdam, 24th Sept. 4.35pm, and Amsterdam 9.30pm.
  • Parks – Set in Inokashira park, Natsuki Seta’s charming drama centres on three youngsters who bond through the discovery of a tape featuring an unfinished lovesong.  Review. Screening at Rotterdam only, Sept. 23, 14.30.
  • Poolsideman – A timely look at a life of quiet desperation from Hirobumi Watanabe. Review. Screening once only at Rotterdam, Sept. 23, 9.45pm.
  • Rage – The latest from Lee Sang-il, Rage is a tale of three possible murderers, doubt, suspicion and violence. ReviewScreening at Rotterdam 22nd September, 9.30pm, 23rd Sept. 9.30pm, and Amsterdam 30th Sept. 9.30pm.
  • Same Old Same Old – Rikiya Imaizumi’s reflexive drama is the story of a director in over his head, a grieving son, and an actress trying to cover up the suicide of her boyfriend. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 23rd Sept. 4.30pm.
  • The Sower – A powerful film about guilt, responsibility, and redemption, The Sower is a painful tale of a family’s disintegration when a long lost brother returns home from a mental hospital only to encounter a family tragedy. Review. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 22nd Sept., 9.45pm.
  • Seto & Utsumi – Tatsushi Omori’s adaptation of the popular manga is a predictably charming affair comprised of brief vignettes as the two high school boys of the title chat their days away hanging out on the way home from school. Review. Screening at Rotterdam only, 21st Sept., 5pm, 22nd Sept. 5pm.

Current Cinema – Mainstream / Genre

death note light up the new world stillOf course there’s plenty of blockbuster fare on offer too from the latest in the Death Note franchise to cat-centric dramas, tales of Shogi playing geniuses, splatter horror, and one family’s strange journey to familial harmony when all the lights go off.

  • Death Note – Premier blockbuster director Shinsuke Sato brings his typically polished visuals to this spin-off of the main series following officers from the Death Note Taskforce as they face the increasingly global Death Note threat. Review. Screening at Rotterdam, 23rd Sept. 9.30pm and Amsterdam, 1st October 2.45pm.
  • Meatball Machine Kodoku – Yoshihiro Nishimura returns with another splatter fuelled assault on the senses. Screening at Rotterdam, 23rd Sept. at midnight, and Amsterdam, 30th Sept. at midnight.
  • Neko Atsume House – Adaptation of the popular smartphone game in which a blocked writer moves to the country for inspiration but finds his life overtaken by cats! Screening at Rotterdam only, 21st Sept., 7.30pm, and 23rd Sept. 2.30pm. 
  • Neko Ninja – A young ninja completes his first mission but gains an unexpected follower in the form of a pudgy cat he thinks might be the reincarnation of his long lost father. Screening at Rotterdam on 23rd Sept. 5pm, 24th Sept. 10pm, and Amsterdam on 30th Sept. 3pm.
  • Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow – A biopic of the real life shogi player who battled serious and life long illness to reach the top of the shogi tree. Review. Screening at Rotterdam on 22nd Sept., 7pm, and Amsterdam on 1st Oct. 7.30pm.
  • The Sun – Yu Irie’s sci-fi/horror takes place in a world in which vampirism rules the Earth and the only path to survival is to become a vampire. Screening at Rotterdam, 24th Sept. 9.30pm, and Amsterdam 1st Oct., 9.45pm.
  • Survival Family – Shinobu Yaguchi returns with another ensemble comedy following one Tokyo family’s attempts to survive in a post-electric world. Review. Screening at Rotterdam on 24th Sept. 7.30pm and 30th Sept, 4.45pm.

Classic Cinema

blind woman's curse stillAlongside latest releases, Camera Japan has also brought together some classic movies from the recent and not so recent past.

  • Blind Woman’s Curse – Starring Meiko Kaji this ero-guro tale of female revenge features some very strange black cat/tattoo action. Screening at Rotterdam only, 22nd Sept., 10pm. Introduced by Midnight Eye’s Tom Mes whose Meiko Kaji book, Unchained Melody, is released on 11th Sept.
  • Eureka – Screening as part of the Kyushu focus, Shinji Aoyama’s 3.5hr masterpiece from 2000 stars Koji Yakusho as a bus driver attempting to live with the effects of a hijacking. Screening once only at Rotterdam only, 21st Sept. 7pm. 
  • Naoko: Winning Runners – Also part of the Kyushu focus, this 2008 sports movie follows a young man hoping to fulfil his father’s legacy by competing in the marathon relay race with his high school team. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 22nd Sept. 4.30pm
  • A Page of Madness – Teinosuke Kinugasa’s landmark silent screens with live score from Bruno Ferro Xavier da Silva. Screening at Rotterdam 24th Sept. 7.30pm.


boys for saleDocumentary fans also have a lot to look forward to with three very different explorations of modern Japanese life.

  • Boys for Sale – Produced by Ian Thomas Ash (A2-B-C, -1287), Boys for Sale mixes animation and talking heads interviews to explore the lives of the (mostly straight) young men working in the sex industry in Tokyo’s Shinjuku 2-chome. Screening at Rotterdam only, Sept. 22, 7.30pmProducer Ian Thomas Ash will present for a Q&A. 
  • Mother I’ve Pretty Much Forgotten Your Face – fascinating documentary following Michiru Endo, the lead singer of one of Japan’s most high profile ’80s punk bands, The Stalin, still on tour at 60 when the Great East Japan Earthquake strikes. Screening at Rotterdam only , Sept. 24, 9.30pm.
  • Start Line – Ayako Imamura, who was born deaf, charts her long distance bike ride. Screens at Rotterdam only, 21st Sept. 9.30pm.  


napping princess stillThere’s no shortage of animation either with four new releases including the award winning In this Corner of the World, and Studio Ghibli classic Princess Mononoke.

  • Ancien and the Magic Tablet (AKA Napping Princess) – The latest from Ghost in the Shell’s Kenji Kamiyama, this family friendly, sci-fi infused tale follows a young girl’s attempt to stop an international conspiracy from within her dreamworld. Review. Screening at Rotterdam only, 21st Sept. 7.15, 22nd 7.15pm.  
  • In This Corner of the World – Award winning animation from the director of Mai Mai Miracle following the early life of a young woman of Hiroshima during the war. Review. Screening at Rotterdam 22nd Sept., 2pm, 23rd Sept. 4pm, and at Amsterdam on 1st Oct. 5.15pm.
  • Princess Mononoke – Classic Studio Ghibli animation features in the festival’s Kyushu focus. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 24th Sept. 5pm.
  • A Silent Voice – Heartrending tale of a girl with hearing difficulties and the boy who bullied her. Review. Screening once only at Rotterdam, 23rd Sept. at 7pm.
  • Your Voice – High school girl Natsuki is unsure what to do with the rest of her life until she wanders into a radio station and enjoys a stint as a DJ leading her to wonder if her grandmother’s stories of spirits from other worlds could really be true. Screening at Rotterdam only, 23rd September, 2pm, and 24th Sept, 3pm.

WARM-UP @ WORM: concert + movie

GUI AIUEO-S A STONE FROM ANOTHER MOUNTAIN TO POLISH YOUR OWN STONE stillTrippy psychedelic road movie, Gui aiueo:S A Stone from Another Mountain to Polish Your Own Stone, produced by and starring Gui aiueo:S, will screen at WORM Rotterdam alongside a live performance from Krautrock band Minami Deutsch on 15th Sept. as a special warm-up event.

The festival will see two more live concerts by Yasuhito Arai and Noriko Tujiko whose film Kuro is also playing in the festival, as part of a series of special events including beer tasting, sencha and miso workshops, and the film brunch.

Full information on all the films as well as ticketing links can be found on the official website. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news via Camera Japan’s official Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram channel.

Follow our ongoing coverage and find reviews for all the films covered so far in our Camera Japan 2017 category.

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl Opens Kotatsu 2017

The Night is Short posterWales’ premier showcase for Japanese animation returns this September with some of the best in recent anime plus events and special guests. This year the festival runs for three bumper days at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff (29th September – 1st October) before moving on to Aberystwyth Arts Centre for one day only, October 28th 2017.


night is short still 2Opening the festival will be the latest from Tatami Galaxy’s Masaaki Yuasa – The Night is Short, Walk on Girl in which a dark haired girl roams the dark city streets while her secret admirer waits patiently for an opportunity to reveal himself, little knowing that the dark haired girl feels exactly the same way…

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 29th September 6pm.

Hirune still 1Next up on Saturday 30th, Napping Princess sees the return of Ghost in the Shell SAC’s Kenji Kamiyama with a much more family friendly effort than might be expected. Regular teenage girl Kotone is sleeping her life away but her final summer vacation will provide unexpected adventures as she sets out to save the Tokyo Olympics from becoming an international disaster whilst solving the long buried mystery of her family origins. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 11am

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 11am

your name stillThis one likely needs no introduction, but for the uninitiated Makoto Shinkai’s latest effort, Your Name, is a body swapping tale of star crossed lovers which has a much happier conclusion than Shinkai’s generally melancholy fare. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 4.15pm

genocidal organ stillThe third in a series of three feature animations inspired by the works of late science fiction author Project Itoh (the other two being Harmony and Empire of Corpses), Genocidal Organ is a cyberpunk infused tale of global conspiracies in which nefarious forces have decided genocide is an unavoidable human evil that they need to ensure is remains in the category of “terrible things happening far away”. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 6.30pm

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 3.35pm

Belladonna of Sadness 
© Cinelicious PicsProduced by Osamu Tezuka, Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness has been little seen since its 1973 release but a recent 4K restoration is helping to change that for the better so this psychedelic exploration of sex, witchcraft, and folklore can finally be properly appreciated. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 9pm

silent voice still 1Sunday’s first offering is a heartrending story of friendship and redemption between a girl with hearing problems and the boy who mercilessly bullied her in childhood only to get a taste of his own medicine and intensely regret it. Read our review of A Silent Voice here.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 1st October, 11am

pigtails stillProduction I.G. is one of the most well regarded animation studios currently in operation this and series of four shorts by different directors demonstrates its strengths and versatility.

  • Pigtails – directed by Yoshimi Itazu and adapted from the manga by Machiko Kyo.
  • Drawer Hobs – directed by Kazuchika Kise
  • Lil’ Spider Girl – directed by Toshihisa Kaiya
  • Kickheart – directed by Masaaki Yuasa

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 1st October, 2pm

mind game horizontalMasaaki Yuasa’s 2004 debut, Mind Game, will also be screened as the closing movie in Cardiff on 1st October. Adapted from a manga by Robin Nishi, the anime follows an aspiring mangaka, also named Nishi, who runs into his teenage crush only to find out she is about to marry someone else, gets mixed up with yakuza, goes all the way to heaven and back, and then gets trapped inside a whale where he meets God…

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 1st October, 5pm

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 6.15pm

In addition to the films on offer, there will also be a selection of special events taking place across the weekend including:

  • Japanese Marketplace
  • Kotatsu Festival Stand
  • Kotatsu display where you can try out a kotatsu for real! (Saturday night only)
  • Super Tomato – Cardiff based retailer of retro games and otaku goods
  • Keep It Secret – Bristol based store specialising in all things cute. (Saturday only)
  • Cherry Slug – handmade artwork inspired by manga and anime
  • Iconic Toos – tatooist specialising in otaku designs

That’s in addition to a Manga Drawing Workshop at 1.30pm on Saturday with manga artist Asuka Bochanska Tanaka, the Neo Craft Animation – A Certain Japanese Stop-motion Animation masterclass with Professor Yuichi Ito of Tokyo National University of Arts Graduate School, and a Japanese calligraphy workshop at 3pm on Sunday 1st October.


sword art online ordinal scale stillFollowing a second screening of Napping Princess at 11am, the festival continues at Aberystwyth Arts Centre with a screening of the Sword Art Online movie, Ordinal Scale, which follows Kirito and co. into the latest game using the brand new Augma system.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 1.15pm

Sword Art Online will be followed by repeat screenings of Genocidal Organ (3.35pm) and Mind Game (6.15pm), and there will also be a raffle at 6pm!

Kotatsu 2017 runs at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff from 29th September to 1st October and Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 28th October. Tickets are available from the respective box offices. You can find more information on all the films and the festival itself on the official website and you can keep up with all the latest news via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.


Blade of the Immortal, Close-Knit Headline BFI London Film Festival 2017

blade of the immortal posterThe BFI London Film Festival returns this October for another twelve day celebration of the best in recent international cinema. Though East Asian offerings are not as plentiful as in previous years, there are a number of highly anticipated films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Cambodia making their UK premieres across the various strands of the impressive 2017 programme.


©22 HOURS FILMSChinese independent cinema has been in the ascendent recently, becoming a regular presence at high profile festivals. This year’s selection of films from the mainland includes two very different animated features alongside comedy, action and arthouse.

  • Angels Wear White –  Featured in competition at Vencie, Vivian Qu’s Trap Street followup follows two girls who are assaulted by a middle-aged man in a motel room, and the receptionist who says nothing for fear of losing her job.
  • Big Fish and Begonia – Animated family fantasy in which mystical beings observe the human world for one week only but are forbidden from contact. Picked up for UK distribution by Manga Entertainment.
  • Have a Nice Day – Grown up animated feature in which a delivery driver steals a bag of cash so his girlfriend can get plastic surgery. Picked up for UK distribution by Mubi.
  • King of Peking – A father and son resort to DVD piracy after a fire destroys their business in this charming Beijing-set comedy.
  • Life Imitation – An experimental look at youth in modern China mediated through the digital realm.
  • Wrath of Silence – Western infused martial arts drama starring Jiang Wu.

Hong Kong

our time will comeTwo giants of Hong Kong cinema return – celebrated filmmaker Ann Hui with a tale of love and resistance, and legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle shooting a noir fairytale for Jenny Suen.

  • Our Time Will Come – Zhao Xun’s schoolteacher takes up arms in the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation in Ann Hui’s tense spy thriller.
  • The White Girl – shot by Christopher Doyle, Jenny Suen’s quirky noir fairytale stars Joe Odagiri as a reclusive Japanese artist hiding out in Hong Kong.


blade of the immortal still 2Japanese entries are dominated by animation but there’s also space for Takashi Miike’s manga adaptation Blade of the Immortal which headlines the Thrill section, as well as Naoko Ogigami’s latest Close-Knit, and the recent 4K restoration of 60s avant-garde masterpiece Funeral Parade of Roses.

  • Blade of the Immortal – A return to the world of jidaigeki for the prolific director, Blade of the Immortal stars Takuya Kimura as a legendary swordsman who cannot die. Takashi Miike will also be present at the festival for a Screen Talk event. Picked up for UK distribution by Arrow Films.
  • Close-Knit – Less quirky than her previous work, Naoko Ogigami’s latest is a heartwarming family drama in which a neglected 11 year old is taken in by her uncle and his transgender girlfriend, Rinko (Toma Ikuta). Review.
  • Funeral Parade of Roses – Toshio Matsumoto’s avant-garde classic in its recent 4K restoration.
  • Lu Over the Wall – One of two films this year released by anime genius Masaaki Yuasa, Lu Over the Wall is a story of borderless love as a land boy and mermaid girl come together to ensure the survival of their respective communities. Picked up for UK distribution by Manga Entertainment.
  • Mutafukaz – crazy French/Japanese animated co-production.


Bamseom Pirates Seoul InfernoEverything you’d expect from Korea from anarchic documentary to violent procedural and the annual return of Hong Sang-soo.

  • Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno – Jung Yoon-suk’s documentary following the Korean punk band
  • Becoming Who I Was – Chang-yong Moon & Jin Jeon’s reincarnation documentary.
  • Memoir of a Murderer – Byung-su, a retired serial killer recently diagnosed with dementia, attempts to catch his successor in this very Korean black comedy thriller. Picked up for UK distribution by JBG Pictures.
  • On the Beach at Night Alone – Hong Sang-soo returns with a close to home story of an actress (played by Kim Min-hee), taking refuge from the negative fallout from her high profile affair with a married film director…


bad genius stillThailand’s two entries feature youth looking forward and age looking back.

  • Bad Genius – Playing just about every festival this season, Bad Genius is the story of brainy Thai teens and their elaborate scam to game the exams system.
  • Pop Aye – a middle-aged man tries to rescue an elephant who was his childhood friend and save them both from the ravages of “progress”.


jailbbreak horizonta

  • Jailbreak – martial arts drama from Jimmy Henderson.

The BFI London Film Festival runs at various venues in Central London from 4th to 15th October 2017. Full details and screening times/dates are available from the official website. Champion members’ booking begins 10am 6th September with Members’ booking opening 7th September ahead of regular ticket sales beginning 14th September.

You can also keep up to date with all the latest festival news via the BFI’s Facebook Page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.

Oh Lucy! To Open Raindance 2017

Oh Lucy still oneLondon’s Raindance International Film Festival returns from 20th September to 1st October 2017 with the best of recent independent cinema from across the world. East Asian titles have been thin on the ground for the past few years, but this time around Japan in particular is back with a vengeance.

oh lucy still 3The festival will open with Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Cannes sleeper hit Oh Lucy! which stars Shinobu Terajima as a 55 year old woman trapped in a boring office job who discovers a whole new side to herself after being given a blonde wig and the alternate identity of Lucy by an unorthodox English teacher (played by Josh Hartnett) whom she later becomes obsessed with.

boys for saleThe only feature documentary on the list, Boys for Sale takes a look at the young men who have sex with men for money in Tokyo’s red light district. Produced by frequent Raindance guest Ian Thomas Ash (A2-B-C, -1278), this innovative documentary mixes animation and straight to camera interviews to explore the various reasons why these young men have made a decision to work as “boys” and the nature of their lives in this hidden part of Tokyo nightlife.

ghost roads poster.jpgA haunted guitar amp promises a struggling musician everything he’s ever dreamed of in Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock ‘n’ Roll Ghost Story!

junkhead still 1It has been centuries since humanity’s clones rebelled and went to live underground. Now an intrepid band of humans must venture into their world to investigate the the fate of the self exiled creatures in Takahide Hori’s impressive stop motion animation, Junk Head.

love and other cultsEiji Uchida’s Love and Other Cults receives its UK premiere at Raindance. The story of a young girl’s journey through cult devotee to mixed up kid and a life in the adult entertainment industry, Love and Other Cults is the latest Uchida/Third Window Films production. Review.

mukoku horizontal.jpgKazuyoshi Kumakiri (My Man, Sketches of Kaitan City, Antenna) returns with a tale of familial love and kendo in Mukoku as Go Ayano puts down his sword following a traumatic incident and proceeds to waste his life drinking and working as a security guard until a chance meeting with a talented high schooler shakes him out of his malaise.

noise posterYusaku Matsumoto’s Noise takes place eight years after a killing spree as three residents of Akihabara including the daughter of a murdered woman, an underground idol, and a delivery driver attempt to find meaning in their lives.

Perfect Revolution still one.jpgIn Junpei Matsumoto’s Perfect Revolution, Lily Franky plays a man with cerebral palsy who is an activist for the sexual rights of disabled people and falls in love with a sex worker who suffers from a personality disorder.

swaying mariko still 1Ordinary housewife Mariko is married to a younger man with whom she has a son, but Tomoharu is often away from home and she is beginning to believe he is having an affair. Meanwhile, her manager harasses her at work and the customers are constantly rude. Under such strains, Mariko’s perception of reality starts to disintegrate in Koji Segawa’s indie drama Swaying Mariko.

The foolish bird still 1.jpgThe only non-Japanese East Asian film on offer is Huang Ji & Ryuji Otsuka’s The Foolish Bird – a story of a “left behind child” forced to bring herself up in an unforgiving Chinese village.

The Raindance International Film Festival takes place at Vue West End from 20th September to 1st October and tickets are already on sale via the official website.