Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) Honours Seijun Suzuki with Retrospective

suzukiThe complete programme for the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2017 has now been revealed and as reported, the festival will be paying homage to the late director Seijun Suzuki with a retrospective featuring ten of his best loved films.

detective 2 3 go to hell bastards stillDetective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards is everything its name suggests – crazy, cartoonish fun as a Joe Shishido goes undercover, hangs out in Christmas themed cabaret bars and sings a few songs all the name of justice (and a paycheck). Review.

youth of the beast stillYouth of the Beast proved a turning point in Suzuki’s career. No longer content to play along with restrictive studio codes, Suzuki embraces his talent for colourful absurdism as Shishido once again finds himself undercover in the yakuza underworld.

tokyo drifter stillTokyo Drifter found few fans among studio bosses, but takes Suzuki’s psychedelic use of colour to all new highs in the story of a gangster unable to escape from his violent past.

gate of flesh stillMaking another foray into wartime desperation, Suzuki adapts Taijiro Tamura’s Gate of Flesh with Shishido as a washed-up former soldier driving a wedge between a group of fiercely loyal prostitutes. Review.

branded to killThe one that got him fired from Nikkatsu, Branded to Kill is the absurd story of a steely hitman with an addiction to the smell of cooking rice who finds his life derailed by a beautiful woman and a butterfly. Review.

ZigeunerweisenZigeunerweisen marks Suzuki’s return to filmmaking after the long series of court battles following his dismissal from Nikkatsu. The first in the Taisho Trilogy, Zigeunerweisen stars Yoshio Harada as one third of an eerily surreal love triangle. Review.

SuzukiKageroza1The follow up to Zigeunerweisen, Kagero-za stars Yusaku Matsuda in a ghostly tale of love and writer’s block. Review.

fighting elegy stillSuzuki takes a wry look at the origins of fascism in Fighting Elegy as the young men of his age engage themselves in “manly” pursuits but are obliged to sublimate their other desires into a lust for violence. Review.

princess raccoon stillJoe Odagiri and Zhang Ziyi star in the bizarre yet infectious folktale inspired musical, Princess Raccoon.

pistol Opera stillFor his final film, Pistol Opera, Suzuki revisits Branded to Kill but replaces Shishido with a female assassin longing to be number one.

The full programme for the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival which takes place between 30th June and 8th July, 2017 is now available on the official website. You can also keep up with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Mumon: The Land of Stealth To Open Japan Cuts 2017

MumonNow in its 11th year, Japan Cuts returns to Japan Society New York from 13th to 23rd July bringing some of the best in recent Japanese cinema with it as well as a host of special guests and events. The festival will open with Yoshihiro Nakamura’s ninja drama, Mumon: The Land on Stealth on 13th July while award-winning animation In This Corner of the World will close the proceedings on July 23. The full lineup is as follows:

mumon stillYoshihiro Nakamura’s ninja epic Mumon: The Land of Stealth finds the secretive warriors uncomfortable with the new order but young mercenary Mumon has his own problems with a new wife who values her material comforts. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura will be present on the opening night to present the film.

Tokyo Idols stillKyoko Miyake’s documentary Tokyo Idols follows an aspiring star as she makes her way through one of the most controversial areas of the Japanese entertainment industry.

THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE stillTaking inspiration from the poetry of Tahi Saihate, The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is a complicated love/hate letter to the city from The Great Passage’s Yuya Ishii. Review.

satoshi stillKenichi Matsuyama stars in a moving biopic of the real life shoji star who gave it all for the game in Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow. Review.

hengyo stillThe latest film from Okinawan filmmaker Go TakamineHengyoro (Queer Fish Lane) follows two old men living in the village where those who failed to die continue to exist as they set off on a strange journey to escape persecution after being falsely accused of stealing something from a local store.

alley cat stillYosuke Kubozuka plays a depressed boxer who finds friendship in the Alley Cat of the title only to realise he’s being two-timed with a grungy mechanic.

tale of a whaleMegumi Sasaki’s documentary A Whale of a Tale takes an in-depth look at the controversial practice of whaling.

22 year confession stillTetsuya Fujiwara and Hideaki Ito star in Memoirs of a Murderer – an adaptation of Jung Byoung-Gil’s Confession of Murder directed by Yu Irie. A mysterious man confesses to a series of unsolved crimes shortly after the statute of limitations passes and becomes a media sensation but the cop who failed to solve the case just can’t let it go.

neko assume house stillBased on the hit smartphone game Neko Atsume House stars Atsushi Ito as a blocked writer who moves to the country hoping to stimulate himself with a change of scene only to be immediately adopted by a bunch of demanding cats!

The ondekozaTai Kato’s underseen documentary The Ondekoza plays in the classic strand in its new 4K restoration and centres on the taiko drummers of Sado Island, mixing training footage with their famously intense performances for a feverish visual feast.

LOVE AND GOODBYE AND HAWAII stillShingo Matsumura’s gentle Love, Goodbye, and Hawaii is the story of a technically broken up couple who still live together and are forced to face their lingering feelings when one of them meets someone else.

At the terrace テラスにてKenji Yamauchi adapts his own stage play skewering the middle classes as a boring dinner party gets progressively out of hand exposing each of their flaws, weaknesses, and well hidden secrets in At the Terrace. Review.

harunekoProduced by Shinji Aoyama and Takenori Sento, Sora Hokimoto’s debut feature Haruneko is a tale of life and death told through music and light in a mysterious forest.

oce upon a dream stillKei Shichiri revisits Before the Day Breaks ten years on and adds all-new sound and imaging. Based on the manga by Naoki Yamamoto, Once Upon a Dream follows a girl who sleeps too much but never feels as if she has slept enough.

daguerrotype stillThe first film made outside of Japan for veteran filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Daguerrotype stars Tahar Rahim in a classic European gothic ghost story perfectly melding this classic genre with Kurosawa’s uniquely creepy visuals.

RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE stillKonrad Aderer’s documentary Resistance at Tulle Lake tells the story of 12000 Japanese Americans labelled “disloyal” and incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center for refusing to obey the government’s internment order.

extremeists Opera stillTheatre director Junko Emoto makes her film debut with The Extremists’ Opera adapted from her own autobiographical novel centring on an all female performance troupe.

over the fence still 1The third in a series of films adapted from the works of Hakodate native novelist Yasushi Sato, Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Over the Fence stars Joe Odagiri as a recently divorced man returning to his home town to start over but failing until he meets eccentric bar girl/zookeeper Satoshi played Yu Aoi. Joe Odagiri is a special guest at this year’s festival and will be attending in person to introduce the film as well as collect this year’s CUT ABOVE award.

FOUJITAJoe Odagiri stars as the artist Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita who became a part of the ’20s Paris art scene before returning to militarist Japan in 1933 and providing artwork for the propaganda movement. Joe Odagiri will also attend in person for an introduction and Q&A.

teiichi stillElite public school boy Teiichi dreams of becoming Prime Minister in Akira Nagai’s manga adaptation, Teiichi Battle of Supreme High but finds his (lack of) ideology questioned by a well meaning working class transfer student. Review.

shippu rondo horizontalAn adaptation of Keigo Higashino’s 2013 novel, Shippu Rondo sees Hiroshi Abe play a research scientist hot on the trail of a stolen biological weapon in a slapstick filled comedy thriller.

senjoe eThe Japan Cuts 2017 Shorts Showcase features four films by veteran and brand new filmmakers including:

  • Birds – Directed by Koji Fukada this 8 minute short features an awkward encounter between a wife, her husband, and his mistress.
  • We Are Shooting – Raita Minorita’s 26 minute short is a behind the scenes tale of the trials and tribulations of movie making.
  • White T-shirt and Feeble Things – directed by Yun Su Kim, White T-shirt and Feeble Things is the story of a man who only wears plain white T-shirts but can’t keep any of them clean.
  • Breathless Lovers – Directed by Shumpei Shimizu Breathless Lovers is the story of 23-year-old Toshiyuki chasing his boyfriend’s ghost across Tokyo.

west north west 2An Iranian student and depressed bartender face a series of romantic and cross cultural confusions in Takuro Nakamura’s West North West. Actresses Hanae Kan and Sahel Rosa will attend the screening for an introduction and Q&A. Review.

yamato california stillDepressed teenager Sakura (Hanae Kan) has a complicated relationship with Americanisation thanks to growing up near Japan’s biggest mainland American military base but an encounter with the half-American daughter of her mother’s boyfriend prompts a reconsideration of her life goals in Daisuke Miyazaki’s Yamato (California). Review.

Anti-porno stillSion Sono’s entry into Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno Reboot Project, Anti-Porno is the story of celebrity novelist Kyoko and her strange relationship with her assistant Noriko.

dad and mr ito stillThe latest film from Yuki Tanada, My Dad and Mr. Ito, is a tale of cross-cultural romance as an elderly father moves in with his middle-aged daughter only to find she is already living with a much older man.

summer nightsSummer Lights marks the Japan debut for French filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot. A Japanese filmmaker living in Paris returns to Japan in order to make a documentary about Hiroshima and ends up on a journey with a mysterious woman.

ZigeunerweisenThe first in the Taisho Trilogy, Zigeunerweisen is a late career masterpiece from Seijun Suzuki centring on a university professor’s odd relationship with a roguish friend and a mysterious geisha. Review.

in this corner of the world horizontalSunao Katabuchi’s award-winning animation In This Corner of the World is the story of one ordinary woman in World War II Hiroshima. Producer Taro Maki will be present for a Q&A after the film.

Japan Cuts takes place at Japan Society New York, from July 13 – 23, 2017. Ticket links and full details for all the films can be found on the festival’s official website,  and you can keep up with all the latest news as well as the year round film programme via the Japan Society Film Facebook page and Twitter account. Tickets are already on sale to members with public sales available 12th June.

The Villainess to Close New York Asian Film Festival 2017

the villainess posterFresh from its Cannes premiere, Jung Byoung-gil’s The Villainess will close the 16th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival which returns to the city from 30th June to 16th July 2017. Thailand’s Bad Genius will open the festival while the Centrepiece Gala will showcase one of the best recent films from the Philippines, Mikhail Red’s BirdshotAltogether there are 57 films included in this year’s lineup hailing from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The full lineup is as follows:


Battle of Memories posterThrillers dominate the Chinese slate beginning with:

  • Battle of Memories – a sci-fi thriller in which a man erases memories of his failed marriage only for his soon to be ex-wife to order him to retrieve them, only he accidentally ends up with the memories of a serial killer instead.
  • Blood of Youth – a youthful cyber thriller.
  • Duckweed – Han Han’s time travel drama sees a son finally getting to know his petty gangster father.
  • Extraordinary Mission – Alan Mak teams up with Anthony Pun for another undercover cop action fest.
  • Someone to Talk to – Yulin Liu’s adaptation of her father’s novel examines the essential loneliness of Chinese society as reflected in the modern marriage. Review.
  • Soul on a String – Zhang Yang returns with an existential epic taking place in the Tibetan deserts. Review.

Hong Kong Panorama

coldwar 22017 marks 20 years since the Hong Kong handover and the New York Asian Film Festival not only showcases some of the best HK films from the past two decades but also includes a look forward with work from the most promising voices of tomorrow.

  • Cold War 2 – Sequel to the original Cold War, Cold War 2 sees Aaron Kwok return as Hong Kong’s incorruptible police chief still dealing with the aftermath of uncovering mass corruption and with a team of missing policemen still held captive. Review.
  • Dealer/Healer – Sean Lau and Gordon Lam co-star in a ’70s crime drama.
  • Election – Jonnie To’s 2005 classic needs no introduction but stars Simon Yam in a tale of raw gangster ambition.
  • Mad World – Shawn Yue and Eric Tsang star in a moving tale of a father trying to understand his son’s bipolar depression.
  • Our Time Will Come – Ann Hui tells the story of legendary World War II resistance operative “Fang Gu”.
  • Soul Mate – Derek Tsang’s moving melodrama is an ode to the power of female friendship. Review.
  • The Taking of Tiger Mountain – Tsui Hark’s tale of civil war banditry.
  • This is not what I Expected – Romantic comedy starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhou Dongyu
  • Vampire Cleanup Department – A young man discovers his vampire hunter heritage at the same time as falling for a vampire in this retro horror comedy.
  • With Prisoners – A young man gets into a fight and is sent to a notorious juvenile detention centre practicing extreme, hard-line “rehabilitative” techniques in Andrew Wong’s drama. Official competition.
  • Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight – Two slackers decide to do their civic duty when the zombie apocalypse strikes.


double-lifeA varied lineup from Japan features everything from the Roman Porno reboot to LGBT comedy, quirky sc-fi, and moving family drama.

  • Aroused by Gymnopedies – Isao Yukisada’s entry into the Roman Porno reboot series stars Itsuji Itao as a penniless filmmaker who makes use of the various women in his life to try and improve his dismal circumstances.
  • Close-Knit – less quirky than Ogigami’s other work, Close-Knit is a beautiful family drama in which a neglected little girl finds a family she can feel a part of with her uncle and his transgender girlfriend. Review.
  • Dawn of the Felines – Directed by Koji Shiraishi, this Roman Porno reboot takes inspiration from Night of the Felines but casts its three heroines into a much darker world. Review.
  • Destruction Babies – Tetsuya Mariko paints a grim picture of his nation’s youth in this hard-hitting, nihilistic drama. Review.
  • A Double Life – This impressive debut feature from Yoshiyuki Kishi takes a long look at voyeurism and the damaging effects of obsession. Official CompetitionReview.
  • Happiness – Sabu’s indie leaning sci-fi drama is a meditation on guilt, memory, vengeance and the true nature of happiness. Review.
  • Japanese Girls Never Die – Daigo Matsui adapts Mariko Yamauchi’s novel in which a young woman goes missing and prompts a citywide movement.
  • The Long Excuse – Miwa Nishikawa adapts her own novel in which a self-centred former novelist turned B-list celebrity is forced to re-examine himself following his wife’s death. Review.
  • Love and Other Cults – Eiji Uchida’s latest tells a depressing story of misused and misdirected love. Review.
  • Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio – Takashi Miike and undercover cop Reiji are back with more improbably zany action.
  • Rage – Lee Sang-il adapts another Shuichi Yoshida novel examining three interconnected stories of suspicion following a brutal Tokyo murder.
  • Suffering of Ninko – A buddhist monk tries his best to remain celibate, but he’s just too pretty. Review.
  • Survival Family – When the power suddenly goes off one ordinary family takes to the road but finds it much harder than they expected in Shinobu Yaguchi’s absurd comedy. Review.
  • Traces of Sin – Kei Ishikawa’s dark crime drama stars Satoshi Tsumabuki as a depressed reporter tying to avoid his sister’s incarceration for child neglect by investigating the brutal murder of the ideal family. Review.
  • Wet Woman in the Wind – a writer retreats to the country only to run into a nymphomaniac waitress in Akihiro Shiota’s Roman Porno reboot.


vanishing-timeCyber crime, fantasy, and gentle whimsy mingle in an eclectic selection from Korea.

  • Fabricated City – A young man is framed for a brutal murder in this impressively designed cyber thriller. Review.
  • Fantasy of the Girls – Romantic confusion plagues a production of Romeo and Juliet in this high school drama.
  • Jane – A hit in Busan, Jane follows a transgender woman who takes in homeless kids. Official Competition.
  • Ordinary Person – Kim Bong-han’s drama stars Son Hyun-joo as a hardworking policeman who gets caught up in a conspiracy.
  • A Quiet Dream – Zhang Lu’s gently ephemeral meditation on dislocation. Review.
  • A Single Rider – Lee Byung-hun stars as a bankrupt fund manager discovering some uncomfortable secrets when making an impromptu visit to his wife and son in Australia.
  • Split – Drama in which an autistic boy’s talent for bowling is exploited by an unscrupulous couple who later come to care for him.
  • The Tooth and the Nail – A man is accused of murdering his chauffeur in this post-war mystery.
  • The Truth Beneath – a politician’s daughter goes missing during a campaign and her mother will stop at nothing to find out what happened. Review.
  • Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned – Uhm Tae-hwa’s time slip drama is a beautifully designed tribute to childhood friendship. Review.
  • The Villainess – Fresh from its Cannes premiere, Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess will close the festival and follows an undercover assassin torn between two men from her past.

Southeast Asia

Bad GeniusesCasting the net wider the festival will also showcase some of the best recent hits from underrepresented areas of Asia:

  • Bad Genius – The opening night gala, Bad Genius sees a group of super smart students earning extra money by cheating on tests set off on a mission to Australia to get the answers to the big exam and send them back to Thailand before their friends sit it. Official Competition.
  • Birdshot – A series of horrifying crimes are revealed when a Philippine Eagle is shot by mistake in Mikhail Red’s mystery drama. Official Competition.
  • Kfc – Vietnamese body horror from Le Binh Giang. Official Competition.
  • Mrs. K – A former assassin attempts to save her husband and daughter from the legacy of her own past in this Malaysian action drama starring Kara Hui.
  • Saving Sally – Unusual romantic comedy from the Philippines mixing live action and animation.
  • Town in a Lake – The secrets of a small town are exposed when a young girl is murdered in Jet Leyco’s Philippine drama.


The Gangster_s Daughter posterPick your poison – monsters, gangsters and love dominate the entries from Taiwan.

  • Eternal Summer – LGBT drama in which the intense friendship between two boys is thrown into confusion when a girl arrives from the city.
  • The Gangster’s Daughter – Unusual family drama in which a gangster resumes custody of his estranged daughter and brings her to the city from her rural home. Official Competition.
  • Godspeed – Black comedy in which a drug dealer gets derailed by a well-meaning taxi driver.
  • Mon Mon Mon Monsters – Horrible kids catch a strange creature and then torture it before hastening the apocalypse in Ko Gidden’s provocative teen horror/comedy.
  • Road to Mandalay – Two migrants fall in love on the way to Bangkok but find their romance frustrated by the difficulties of city life in Midi Z’s indie drama.
  • The Village of No Return – New Year action comedy which takes place in an isolated village where the population has had its memory wiped so the people can live “happily”.


Banseom Pirates posterOnly two documentaries on offer this year, both from Korea:

  • Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno – Jung Yoon-suk’s second documentary centres on the titular Korean punk bank but uses them as a springboard to explore youthful resistance in modern Korean society.
  • Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman –  Jero Yun’s documentary follows its protagonist over three years as she tries to build a life for herself after being (unintentionally) trafficked out of North Korea.

The 16th New York Asian Film Festival runs from 30th June to 16th July 2017 at Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and SVA Theatre, and will also welcome a number of high-profile guests including veteran HK actor Tony Leung Ka-fai who will receive the 2017 Star Asia NYAFF Lifetime Achievement Award, Korean actor Gang Dong-won who will receive the Star Asia Award, and Thai actress Chutimon “Aokbab” Chuengcharoensukying who will receive the Screen International Rising Star Asia Award. Tickets for the festival will be available to the public from 15th June but members of Film Society or Subway Cinema are entitled to priority booking from June 13.

You can find all the latest information on the official website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.



Nippon Connection 2017 – Nippon Animation Preview

silent-voiceNippon Connection aims to showcase all sides of Japanese cinema from the mainstream to arthouse and documentary and this, of course, includes animation.

silent voice still 1A hit at festivals around the world, A Silent Voice is a poignant tale about guilt, redemption, and attitudes to disability.

in this corner of the world horizontalMai Mai Miracle’s Sunao Katabuchi returns with the multi-awardwinning In This Corner of the World – a coming of age story set in Hiroshima before and after the atomic bomb.

There is also a selection of animated movies aimed at younger audiences which will be shown in their original languages but with both English subtitles and German live voice over.

ちえりとチェリー stillChieri and Cherry is a charming puppet animation in which Chieri, who has recently lost her father, develops an intense bond with her stuffed toy, Cherry. Travelling to her grandmother’s house for her father’s funeral, Chieri experiences a fantastic adventure which helps her to cope with grief and fear of the future.

rudolf the black cat stillRudolf the Black Cat stars titular black cat Rudolf from Gifu who ends up accidentally homeless in Tokyo!


POETIC LANDSCAPES – RECENT GEMS IN JAPANESE INDIE ANIMATIONPoetic Landscapes – Recent Gems in Japanese Animation is a selection of some of the best in recent short animated films curated by Catherine Munroe Hotes.

TOKYO UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS- ANIMATIONTokyo University of the Arts: Animation – a selection of animated graduation films from Tokyo University of the Arts.

Nippon Connection 2017 takes place from May 23 – 28, 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany. You can find the full details for all the films, screening times and ticket links on the festival’s official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the Nippon Connection Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram channel and blog.

Japan Cuts 2017 Announces First Programme Highlights

over the fence still 1Japan Cuts returns for 2017 with even more of the best in recent Japanese cinema. Ahead of the full programme reveal the festival has announced a few early teasers for what promises to be another year of fantastic films from Japan.

over the fence stillFan favourite director Nobuhiro Yamashita will once again feature in the festival with his installment in the trilogy of movies inspired by author Yasushi Sato, Over the Fence. One of Yamashita’s more melancholy efforts, Over the Fence stars Joe Odagiri as a recently divorced man trying but failing to start over in his home town. Meeting a cabaret girl with the improbably manly name of Satoshi (Yu Aoi) he finally begins to move forward but Satoshi has a few problems of her own. Joe Odagiri will also be attending the festival collect his CUT Above Award for Outstanding Performance in Film!

Anti-porno stillAnother festival favourite Sion Sono returns with his contribution to the Roman Porno Reboot Project, Anti-Porno.

daguerrotype stillKiyoshi Kurosawa’s first international production, Daguerrotype, also makes its way into the festival. Taking the director back to his psychological horror roots, this gothic European ghost story stars one of France’s best young actors, Tahar Rahim, as a photographer’s assistant caught up in both odinary and supernatural conspiracies.

434_scr_5The one you’ve all been waiting for – Neko Atsume House! An adaptation of the popular smartphone game, Masatoshi Kurakata’s film stars Atsushi Ito as a novelist with writer’s block who moves house to stimulate himself only to be overrun with cute cats instead.

RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE stillThe only documentary announced so far, Konrad Aderer’s Resistance at Tule Lake examines the case of 12,000 Japanese-Americans labeled “disloyal” for attempting to resist the government’s internment order.

Japan Cuts 2017 takes place in New York between July 13 – 23 and you can keep up with all the latest developments via the official website, Twitter account, and Facebook page.

Nippon Connection 2017 – Nippon Visions Preview

THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE stillSo, Nippon Cinema aimed to bring some of the best mainstream leaning hits to festival screens, but what does Nippon Visions have to offer? As the name implies, this strand is dedicated to indie, experimental, and innovative forward-looking filmmaking.

Nippon Visions

Nippon Visions is home to this year’s festival focus, documentaries, as well as a selection of art house and independent films. This section involves two awards – the Nippon Visions Jury Award which offers free subtitles courtesy of Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA), and the Nippon Visions Audience Award which features a €1000 prize sponsored by Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachzentrum.


95_And_6_To_Go_Still4Japanese-American director Kimi Takesue’s 95 and 6 to Go was filmed over six years during which she travelled to Hawaii following the death of her grandmother to learn more about the history of her family. Talking to her grandfather about his life and her own stalled film project, Takesue neatly weaves the personal and the universal for a meditation on life, love, loss and endurance.

boys for saleProduced by Ian Thomas Ash (A2-B-C, -1287) Boys for Sale is the debut feature from Itako and focuses on the world of male prostitution in Tokyo’s Shinjuku 2-chome.

COME ON HOME TO SATOCome on Home to Sato is the debut feature from Yoshiki Shigee. Filmed over three years, the film follows the social workers and professionals involved with Kodomo no Sato – a safehaven for children of all ages and backgrounds in Osaka’s Nishinari district.

GUI AIUEO-S A STONE FROM ANOTHER MOUNTAIN TO POLISH YOUR OWN STONE stillThe intriguingly titled Gui Aiueo:S A Stone From Another Mountain To Polish Your Own Stone is a strange road movie/documentary/performance piece from Go Shibata featuring UFOs, hermits, and sustainable toilets.

doc shortsA selection of three short NHK documentaries :

The Phone of the Wind: Whispers to Lost Families – a documentary about a disconnected phone box used to call absent loved ones.

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki

What You Taught Me About My Son – a documentary about The Reason I Jump author Naoki Higashida

LA TERRE ABANDONNÉE stillGilles Laurent’s La Terre Abandonée follows the residents of Tomioka who refused to obey the evacuation order after the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Kurosawa-Mifune-VeniceSteven Okazaki’s Mifune: The Last Samurai is an attempt to chart the legendary actor’s career as it intersects with the history of samurai cinema.

RAISE YOUR ARMS AND TWIST! DOCUMENTARY OF NMB48 stillAtsushi Funahashi’s Raise Your Arms and Twist! Documentary of NMB48 follows the aspiring idol stars as they go about their tightly controlled lives in one of the most controversial sectors of the Japanese entertainment industry.

start lineStart Line charts deaf filmmaker Ayako Imamura’s bicycle journey through Japan.


DYNAMITE WOLFMasked wrestling provides a ray of hope for a directionless little boy in Kohei Taniguchi’s Dynamite Wolf. Sponsored by the Dotonbori Pro Wrestling League.

ERIKO, PRETENDED stillAyako Fujimura’s charming family drama Eriko, Pretended follows its aspiring actress protagonist as she travels home for the funeral of her older sister. Having pretended to be much more successful than she really was, Eriko makes the abrupt decision to stay behind in her hometown, look after her sister’s orphaned son and take over her job as a professional mourner.

going the distance stillBoxing trainer Asahi plans to marry his long-term girlfriend Kaori and has found a job for his close childhood friend, Hiroto, to bring him to Tokyo. Everything seems fine but Hiroto has fallen victim to a scammer and needs Asahi’s help. His first instinct is to postpone the wedding and help his friend whom he regards as a “brother” as they grew up in the same orphanage but Kaori wants her elderly grandmother to come so it needs to be as soon as possible. Going the Distance is the debut feature from director Masahiro Umeda who is expected to attend the festival in person to present his film.

good:bye stillTamaki and Kaori just can’t say Good/Bye in Izumi Matsuno’s nuanced drama. Despite having “broken up” the pair continue to share their apartment, marking their individual territories with coloured tape but new romantic possibilities force them to re-examine their peculiar relationship.

innocent 15 stillHirokazu Kai’s hard-hitting coming of age drama Innocent 15 tells the story of an abused teenage girl and a boy just discovering that his widowed father is in love with another man but as bleak as things get there are always signs of hope. Review.

LOVE AND GOODBYE AND HAWAII stillAnother technically broken up but still living together drama, Shingo Matsumura’s Love and Goodbye and Hawaii presents its heroine Rinko with a problem when she realises her ex Isamu might have found someone else.

parks stillSet in Inokashira Park, Natsuki Seta’s Parks stars Ai Hashimoto as a college student who teams up with Shota Sometani and Mei Nagano to recreate the missing portions of a mysterious love song.

POOLSIDEMAN stillThe latest film from Hirobumi Watanabe, Poolsideman won the Japanese Cinema Splash Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2016 and focuses on the dull and lonely life of a lifeguard whose existence changes when he’s sent to a different pool.

sower stillYusuke Takeuchi won the best director award at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival for The Sower. Dealing with guilt and atonement, this sombre film follows Mitsuo as he returns from three years in a mental institution and bonds with his two nieces only for his fragile happiness to be disrupted by unexpected tragedy.

472_scr_1The latest film from Yuya Ishii, The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue stars Shizuka Ishibashi and Sosuke Ikematsu in an exploration of youthful alienation.

yamato california stillDaisuke Miyazaki’s Yamato California explores themes of cross cultural pollination through the story of teenager Sakura who lives near the biggest American military base in Japan and dreams of becoming a rapper. When she meets the Japanese-American daughter of her mother’s boyfriend, she finally finds an ally in an otherwise alienating place.

Shorts Programmes

skip city shortsSkip City Shorts includes four of the short films created for the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival in Saitama.

Vanish – Yusuke Hatai

Ping Pang – Yoichi Tanaka

Son of the Bakery – Shintaro Hihara

Lies – Yuji Mitsuhashi

tky2015 short filmSix young filmmakers show different sides of Tokyo in the TKY2015 Short Film Series.

Homerun – Shumpei Shimizu

Get My Hair Washed – Akira Ikeda

45 x 45 – Daisuke Shimote

The Light Dances – Hajime Izuki

After Hours – Tatsuo Kobayashi

An Interview on the Street in Ginza, Tokyo, Conducted on 27th December 2015. – Yusuke Shibata

NC17_Visions_TUOA Shorts_06Two shorts made by students of the Graduate School for Film and New Media at Tokyo University of the Arts.

Icarus and the Son – Kohei Sanada

Snake Beneath the Flower Petals – Rina Takada

Nippon Connection takes place in Frankfurt, Germany from May 23 – 28, 2017. You can find the full details for all the films, screening times and ticket links on the festival’s official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the Nippon Connection Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram channel.

Nippon Connection 2017 – Nippon Cinema Preview

her love boils bathwater stillFollowing the first previews around six weeks ago, the world’s biggest festival dedicated to Japanese cinema has now unveiled the full lineup for 2017! Taking place in Frankfurt from May 23 – 28, Nippon Connection is divided into six strands featuring everything from the latest blockbusters to retrospectives, animation, a children’s section and a selection of cultural events and lectures. There are around 100 films on offer and we’ll be previewing some of the strands separately over the next few days beginning with:

Nippon Cinema

The Nippon Cinema section aims to showcase some of the biggest mainstream cinema hits of recent times with a few old favourites thrown in to boot. The Nippon Cinema award, bestowed by the festival’s audience, includes a prize of €2000 sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler.

At the terrace テラスにてKenji Yamauchi adapts his own play At the Terrace – a tense yet farcical comedy of manners in which the artifice of propriety is gradually stripped away from a collection of wealthy party guests. Check out our review for a more detailed description.

bangkok-nitesKatsuya Tomita makes a welcome return following his critically acclaimed Saudade with a lengthy yet engrossing tale of love and the red light district as a Thai girl tries to make a life for herself in Bangkok’s Japan-centric hostess bars and brothels. Take a look at our review of Bangkok Nites from late last year for more information on this impressive, expansive film.

rip van winkle stillShunji Iwai is another director making a welcome return with the equally epic A Bride for Rip Van Winkle. This quietly melancholy tale of a drifting shy girl gently nudged into a more positive place through a series of seeming crises is another beautifully drawn character study from Iwai who has been absent from cinema screens for far too long. Check out our review here.

daguerrotype stillDaguerreotype is something of a departure from the other films on offer as it’s entirely in French. Starring one of France’s best young actors in Tahar Rahim, the film also marks the first production mounted outside of Asia for veteran director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Taking him back to his psychological horror roots, Daguerreotype is a creepy gothic ghost story inspired both by Edgar Allen Poe and his Japanese namesake, Edogawa Rampo.

dawn of the felines stillDawn of the Felines is one of the films created for Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno reboot project which is also being celebrated with a Roman Porno retrospective (more on this later on). Directed by Devil’s Path director Kazuya Shiraishi, this melancholy tale of three girls working in Tokyo’s red light district takes its name from Noboru Tanaka’s classic pink film Night of the Felines.

death note light up the new world stillDirected by one of Japan’s foremost blockbuster helmers Shinsuke Sato (whose I am a Hero is also screening in the festival) Death Note: Light up The New World is the latest in a series of films inspired by Tsugumi Ohba’s manga in which a death god drops his precious ledger which has the power to kill anyone whose name is written inside it. Starring some of Japan’s best young actors in Masahiro Higashide, Sosuke Ikematsu, and Masaki Suda this latest installment promises exciting thrills with a philosophical edge.

Destruction-BabiesIf Death Note wasn’t nihilistic enough for you, the festival will also feature Tetsuya Mariko’s Destruction Babies. This hard-hitting tale of violent youth and hopeless futures again stars some of Japan’s best younger actors in Yuya Yagira, Masaki Suda, Nana Komatsu and Sosuke Ikematsu. Director Tetsuya Mariko is also expected to attend the festival in person to present the film. Review.

emperor in August stillMoving back in time a little, 2015’s The Emperor in August is Masato Harada’s attempt to chronicle the last days of the war as Japan reconciles itself to surrender and considers the best way to do it. The film stars veteran actor Koji Yakusho who will also be receiving the festival’s Nippon Honour Award in celebration of his long and successful career.

gukouroku stillThe debut film from Kei Ishikawa, Gukoroku: Traces of Sin stars Satoshi Tsumabuki as an ambitious reporter trying to find the truth behind the brutal, unsolved murder of an ordinary Tokyo family.

happiness stillIn the first of two films presented at the festival, SABU goes on an existential journey in Happiness as a mysterious man appears in town with a strange helmet which allows the wearer to re-experience the happiest moment of their lives. Stars veteran actor Masatoshi Nagase.

harmonium stillKoji Fukada returns to the themes of family and disruptive interlopers but skews darker than ever before in Harmonium. Tadanobu Asano stars as the home invader recently released from prison and taking refuge with “an old friend” but there’s something decidedly strange about his relationship with the father of the family and generally ominous presence. You can check our review of the film from late last year here.

her love boils bathwater still 2Her Love Boils Bathwater officially opens the festival and stars Rie Miyazawa as a single mother diagnosed with a terminal illness who is determined to bring her disparate family back together and save the family bathhouse in the process. Rie Miyazawa picked up the best actress award at this year’s Japan Academy Prize ceremony for her role in film which is far funnier than its synopsis sounds.

I am a hero stillFrom one hero to another, the second movie helmed by director Shinsuke Sato to feature in the festival stars comedian Yo Oizumi as a mildmannered, unsuccessful mangaka who finds hidden reserves inside himself when faced with the zombie apocalypse. I am a Hero is adapted from the manga by Kengo Hanazawa and you can check out our review of the film here.

LET_S GO, JETS! stillFrom one plucky underdog to another – Let’s Go Jets! From Small Town Girls to U.S. Champions?! stars a team of aspiring Japanese cheerleaders who want to strut their stuff all the way to the top spot in the US championships.

the long excuse stillMiwa Nishikawa returns with The Long Excuse – an adaptation of her own novel starring Masahiro Motoki as a self centered author and minor celebrity who is unmoved when his wife dies in a bus accident but finds his humanity reawakening after bonding with the bereaved children of the best friend who died beside her.

Mr Long stillSABU’s second film in the festival, Mr. Long, sees a hardened Taiwanese hitman taken in by a kindly little boy and his family after a job goes badly wrong.

my uncle stillNobuhiro Yamashita is another director with not one but two films making it into the festival this year. The first of them, My Uncle, is a hilarious tale of an exasperated nephew’s eventual bonding with his father’s younger brother – a part time professor of philosophy who has an answer for everything but spends most of his time lying on his futon “thinking” or “resting his brain” by reading children’s manga. Check out our review here.

over the fence stillYamashita’s second entry, Over the Fence, is a slightly less cheerful affair. Joe Odagiri stars as a recently divorced man returing to his hometown of Hakodate who eventually learns to open himself up to new possibilities through an intense relationship with zookeeper/hostess Yu Aoi whose emotional volatility neatly counters his internal numbness. Review here.

projects stillRumour and speculation dominate a housing estate when one half of a recently arrived older couple abruptly disappears. Moonlight flit? Murder? Divorce, affairs, scandal? The truth is stranger than fiction in Junji Sakamoto’s absurd comedy The Projects.

satoshi stillSatoshi: A Move for Tomorrow is the true life story of tragic shogi player Satoshi Murayama who first developed a love of the game during a childhood illness and subsequently devoted his entire life to its mastery despite his declining health. Review.

shin godzilla stillGodzilla is back and bigger than ever! Directed by Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno along with live action Attack on Titan director Shinji Higuchi Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence) is equal parts classic monster movie and biting political satire.

Survival family landscaepGodzilla’s not the only existential threat posed to Japanese society as one ordinary family find out in Shinobu Yaguchi’s black out drama. Survival Family begins with the unthinkable as a simple power outage lasts for days with no official explanation. After waiting patiently for the problem to be resolved, the Suzuki family decide to escape the city to find Mrs. Suzuki’s survivalist father in the hope that he will know how to cope with the post-electric world. Review.

tampopo stillNow for something completely different – Juzo Itami’s noodle western Tampopo will also screen as a Nippon Film Dinner during which bento boxes filled with delicious Japanese treats will be served.

tony takitani stillAfter dinner comes breakfast! This one is screening with German subtitles only but if you can understand German or Japanese or don’t mind not understanding anything at all you can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet whilst taking in Jun Ichikawa’s adaptation of the Haruki Murakami short story Tony Takitani in which a lonely man meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman only for her obsession with shopping to come between them.

wet woman in the wind stillFinally, Akihiko Shiota’s Wet Woman in the Wind is the second of the Roman Porno Reboot movies to be featured in the festival and follows the adventures of a playwright with writer’s block who tries to retreat to the country for some peace, quiet, and time to reflect. Then he hooks up with a nymphomaniac waitress instead!

That’s all for Nippon Cinema – join us again next time for a look at Nippon Visions, a strand dedicated to bold new innovations and special formats. You can find the full details for all the films, screening times and ticket links on the festival’s official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the Nippon Connection Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram channel.