Five Flavours Confirms Complete Programme for 2019

Fly Me to the Saitama still 1Poland’s premier showcase for East Asian cinema Five Flavours has confirmed the complete lineup for its 13th edition to take place in Warsaw from 13th to 20th November, 2019. This year’s festival will have a special focus on contemporary Japanese indie cinema as well as a mini retrospective dedicated to Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan.

Bhutan 

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  • The Red Phallus – a 16-year-old girl is mocked by her peers because her father carves wooden phalluses for a living.

China

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  • Balloon – Tibetan-language drama from Pema Tseden (Jinpa) following a sheep farming family.
  • Jinpa – philosophical Tibetan western in which a truck driver picks up a vengeful drifter. Review.
  • To Live to Sing – the leader of a struggling Sichuan Opera troupe tries to stave off eviction through impressing a local bureaucrat. Review.

Hong Kong

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  • Dumplings – Fruit Chan’s contribution to the Three Extremes omnibus movie in which an ageing TV star hopes to regain her mojo through rejuvenating dumplings. Fruit Chan Retrospective.
  • Durian Durian – a mainland woman comes to Hong Kong to make a living as a sex worker and befriends a local dish washer. Fruit Chan Retrospective
  • Fagara – a young woman discovers the existence of two half-sisters, one from Taiwan and the other mainland China, following the death of her estranged father.
  • Hollywood Hong Kong – a mainland sex worker infiltrates an obese family. Fruit Chan Retrospective
  • Little Cheung – a little boy rides around Hong Kong delivering for his parents’ restaurant. Fruit Chan Retrospective
  • Made in Hong Kong – Fruit Chan’s landmark handover movie. Review. Fruit Chan Retrospective
  • Still Human – a grumpy old man makes an unexpected connection with his Filipina carer. Review.
  • Three Husbands – latest from Fruit Chan in which a young woman lives a life at sea with her three husbands. Fruit Chan Retrospective.
  • Throw Down – 2004 Johnnie To classic starring Louis Koo as a former judo champion now a depressed musician and club manager.

Japan

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  • And Your Bird Can Sing – three melancholy slackers struggle to accept love in Sho Miyake’s adaptation of the Yasushi Sato novel. Review.
  • Blue Hour – a young woman takes her best friend on a roadtrip to her home town but finds old wounds reopening on reuniting with her family. Review.
  • Bone Born Bone – Unmarried pregnant daughter Yuko scandalises her community when she returns home to participate in the bone washing ritual in the second feature from Okinawan comedian Toshiyuki Teruya. Review.
  • Demolition Girl – a high school girl dreams of escaping her small town existence by getting enough money for uni through niche fetish videos of her smashing things. Review.
  • Flowers of Evil – splatter director Noboru Iguchi adapts Shuzo Oshimi’s nihilistic high school manga.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – absurdist comedy in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority. Review.
  • Going the Distance – 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.
  • Mr. Long – a Taiwanese hit man is adopted by a small town in Sabu’s melancholy drama. Review.
  • One Cut of the Dead – Real zombies mess up the shoot for a horror movie in Shinichiro Ueda’s hilarious comedy. Review.
  • The Gun – Masaharu Take adapts Fuminori Nakamura’s nihilistic novel in which a young man’s life changes when he picks up the gun of a fallen yakuza. Review.

Korea

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  • Believer – Korean remake of Johnnie To’s Drug war. Review.
  • Door Lock – remake of Spanish film Sleep Tight in which a woman living alone suspects a stranger has been breaking in to her home. Review.
  • Maggie – surreal drama narrated by a catfish in which a conflicted nurse explores the interplay of truth and trust. Review.
  • The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale – comedy in which a family’s life is disrupted when dad gets bitten by a zombie. Review.

Taiwan

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  • Heavy Craving – a lunch lady hoping to lose weight strikes up unexpected friendships with a deliveryman and cross-dressing student.
  • Nina Wu – psychological drama from Midi Z in which an actress gets her big break but is forced into uncomfortable situations by a difficult director.

Singapore

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  • Repossession – an ordinary man’s life becomes a nightmare when he loses his cushy corporate job.
  • Wet Season – Ilo Ilo’s Anthony Chen returns with a monsoon tale in which a Mandarin language teacher is drawn to one of her students. Review.

Thailand

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  • BNK 48: Girls Don’t Cry – Thamrongrattanarit Nawapol interviews members of the Thai idol group.
  • Krasue: Inhuman Kiss – an innocent village girl discovers she is a victim of a strange curse in which her head detaches from her body to hunt for blood! Review.
  • Where We Belong – friendship drama starring members of Thai supergroup BNK48.

Vietnam

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  • Furie – some thugs make a very bad decision when they kidnap a former gangster’s daughter.

Five Flavours takes place in Warsaw from 13th to 20th November 2019. More information on all the films as well as screening times and ticketing links can be found on the official website, and you can keep up to date with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook PageTwitter Account, Instagram, and YouTube Channels.

BFI London Film Festival Confirms Complete Programme for 2019

House of Hummingbird 6The BFI London Film Festival returns for 2019 with a packed programme of the best in recent international cinema. As usual the lineup includes an impressive selection of East Asian hits including Takashi Miike’s Cannes crowd pleaser First Love and sensitive Busan breakout House of Hummingbird.

Bhutan

LUNANA- A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM

  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom – a frustrated teacher is dismayed to learn he’s being sent to a remote mountain outpost but is eventually won over by the kids.

China

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  • So Long, My Son – Beijing Bicycle‘s Wang Xiaoshuai returns with a chronicle of the Chinese family from the ’80s reforms to the present day.
  • To Live To Sing – the leader of a struggling Sichuan Opera troupe tries to stave off eviction through impressing a local bureaucrat.
  • White Snake – beautifully animated “prequel” to the classic Lady White Snake folktale. Review.
  • Lucky Grandma – A Chinese-American grandma gambles away her life savings and ends up in the middle of a gang war after unwittingly stealing from Chinese gangsters!

Japan

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  • 37 Seconds – a manga artist with cerebral palsy sets out to claim her independence through embracing her sexuality.
  • First Love – a boxer with a brain tumour falls for a trapped sex worker in the latest anarchic crime thriller from Takashi Miike.
  • To the Ends of the Earth – Kiyoshi Kurosawa reunites with recent muse Atsuko Maeda as a lost TV presenter goes searching for herself while filming in Uzbekistan.
  • Family Romance, LLC – Tokyo-set drama from Werner Herzog revolving around a rent-a-relative business.
  • Earthquake Bird – Alicia Vikander stars as a Tokyo-based translator in bubble-era Tokyo who finds herself at the centre of a series of murders.

Mongolia

Öndög 

  • Öndög – a local herdswoman is brought in to take care of a wolf when the police discover a dead body.

Philippines

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  • Overseas – Yoon Sung-a’s documentary exploring the lives of Filipina women working overseas.

Singapore

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  • Wet Season – Ilo Ilo’s Anthony Chen returns with a monsoon tale in which a Mandarin language teacher is drawn to one of her students.

South Korea

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  • The Dude in Me – body swap comedy in which a jaded gangster gets a second chance to set things right when he swaps bodies with a mild-mannered teen. Review.
  • Heart – the latest from Bitch on the Beach‘s Jeong Ga-young in which she stars as a filmmaker who tracks down a married former lover for some additional advice about extra-marital affairs.
  • House of Hummingbird – a teenage girl from a problematic home finds inspiration in her enigmatic Chinese teacher in Kim Bora’s beautifully observed debut. Review.
  • The House of Us – Yoon Ga-eun’s The World of Us followup in which a young girl trying to get her parents to patch things up becomes a big sister figure to two other kids.
  • Maggie – surreal drama narrated by a catfish in which a conflicted nurse explores the interplay of truth and trust. Review.

Thailand

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  • The Cave (Thailand) – dramatisation of the international rescue operation of a team of young football players trapped in a Thai cave.
  • Hope Frozen – documentary following the parents of a little girl who died of a brain tumour as they try to reconcile their decision to opt for cryogenic preservation with their Buddhist beliefs.
  • Krabi, 2562 – Anocha Suwichakornpong and Ben Rivers team up for an unusual portrait of the Thai tourist town.

The BFI London Film Festival takes place at various venues across the city from 2nd – 13th October 2019. Full details for all the films as well as screening times and ticketing information are available via the official website. Priority booking opens for Patrons on 3rd September, for Champions on 4th September, and Members 5th September, with general ticket sales available from 12th September. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube channels.

Camera Japan Announces Complete Programme for 2019

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Camera Japan, the premier Dutch showcase for Japanese film, returns for its 14th edition this September with another fantastic selection of recent indie and mainstream cinema. This year’s theme is “youth” and the programme has a special focus on films made by or about young people.

Contemporary Cinema

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  • 12 Suicidal Teens – 12 teens meet in an abandoned hospital to commit mass suicide but instead find themselves trying to solve the mystery behind the death of a young boy in a youthful drama from 20th Century Boys’ Yukihiko Tsutsumi.
  • Another World – three childhood friends reunite but find it difficult to escape from the shadow of the past in Junji Sakamoto’s tale of frustrated male bonding. Review.
  • Astral Abnormal Suzuki-san – indie comedy in which a young YouTuber and her family become part of a TV show.
  • Bento Harassment– A single mother fed up with her teenage daughter’s nonsense starts sending passive aggressive messages through bento in a tale inspired by a real life blog.
  • The Chaplain – the final film from the late Ren Osugi in which he plays a compassionate preacher ministering to those on death row. Review.
  • The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine – Takahisa Zeze’s Taisho era tale of female sumo warriors and bohemian anarchists. Review.
  • Every Day a Good Day – charming tea ceremony memoir starring Haru Kuroki and the late Kirin Kiki. Review.
  • The Fable – a top hitman is given the challenge of laying low as a normal person for a year only to be sucked into yakuza drama. Heartfelt zany fun! Review.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority in this surreal comedy from the director of Thermae Romae. Review.
  • Hard-Core – an overly idealistic slacker and his simple-hearted buddy make friends with a damaged robot while accidentally getting mixed up in dangerous politics in Nobuhiro Yamashita’s adaptation of the cult manga. Review.
  • Jam – Sabu gets back to his roots with a tale of three guys on the run. Review.
  • Jesus – a little boy discovers he has a friend in tiny Jesus only to find himself feeling betrayed in Hiroshi Okuyama’s whimsical debut. Review.
  • Just Only Love – a lovelorn OL realises her boyfriend’s not that into her in Rikiya Imaizumi’s romantic drama.
  • The Kamagasaki Cauldron War – Osaka’s “invisible slum” is thrown into chaos when someone steals the local yakuza’s ritual bowl. Review.
  • A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic – a young woman struggles to take care of herself when her mother joins a cult and her dad takes to drinking.
  • Little Miss Period – surreal drama starring Fumi Nikaido in which periods are anthropomorphised as giant pink heart-shaped buddies.
  • Love at Least – sensitive drama in which a young woman with bipolar tries to face up to her feelings for her supportive (perhaps too much so) boyfriend when his manipulative ex shows up and starts interfering in her life. Review.
  • Melancholic – a Todai graduate slums it in a bathhouse only to discover the place doubles as a yakuza killing ground after hours. Review.
  • Mimicry Freaks – intense horror film in which a man wakes up on a hospital bed in the woods to be told he was executed thirty years previously.
  • My Dad is a Heel Wrestler – a nine-year-old boy exaggerates his wrestler dad’s success in this charming comedy starring real life wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi.
  • My Father the Bride – a woman returns to her island home for the second anniversary of her mother’s death only to find her father wearing her mother’s clothes and apparently about to marry a man.
  • Okinawan Blue – three tales intertwine at an Okinawan guest house.
  • Only the Cat Knows – the disappearance of the family cat symbolises the distance in a long term marriage in a whimsical romantic drama starring legendary actors Chieko Baisho and Tatsuya Fuji with a notable cameo from Mikako Ichikawa. Review.
  • Orphan’s Blues – poetic drama in which a young woman with unexplained memory loss determines to track down a childhood friend. Review.
  • Queer Shorts – two mid-length queer films including Shun Nakagawa’s Kalanchoe in which a high school class becomes curious about their LGBT lessons, and Mika Imai’s Until Rainbow Dawn in which two deaf women fall in love.
  • Red Snow – impressionistic mystery starring Masatoshi Nagase and Arata Iura in which a journalist’s investigation of a thirty year old child disappearance begins to open old wounds. Review.
  • Rise of the Machine Girls – reboot of Noboru Iguchi’s classic splatter franchise.
  • Samurai Marathon – period drama directed by Bernard Rose in which the local lord’s idea of training his out of shape men through a marathon is misconstrued by the Shogun. Review.
  • Vision – Juliette Binoche goes rare herb hunting for Naomi Kawase.
  • We Are Little Zombies – four bereaved kids deal with their ennui in the time honoured fashion of going on an adventure and starting a punk band in Makoto Nagahisa’s anarchic drama. Review.

Classics

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  • Crazed Fruit – Sun Tribe classic starring Yujiro Ishihara and his future wife Mie Kitahara alongside Masahiko Tsugawa in a tale of youth gone wild as two brothers fall for the same girl.
  • I Was Born, But… – Ozu’s classic silent movie in which two boys fear losing face to their friends over their dad’s less than impressive job. Review. Will be screened with live instrumentation from Gonçalo Almeida, Riccardo Marogna, and Phillip Ernsting.
  • Kids Return – youthful drama from Takeshi Kitano in which two lost young men muse on missed opportunities. Review.
  • The Legend of the Stardust Brothers – rediscovered cult gem from Macoto Tezka following the rise to fame of two aspiring pop stars. Review.
  • The Sun’s Burial – Nagisa Oshima classic set in the slums of Kamagasaki.
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man – Shinya Tsukamoto’s legendary cyberpunk masterpiece.

Documentaries

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  • Day of the Western Sunrise – partially animated documentary interviewing the surviving sailors of Lucky Dragon No. 5.
  • Kampai! Sake Sisters – documentary focussing on three women in the sake trade which has historically been a very male profession.
  • Queer Japan – a joyful exploration of LGBTQ+ life in contemporary Japan.
  • Sending Off – Ian Thomas Ash returns with his latest doc following a doctor providing hospice care to patients in their homes.
  • Tower of the Sun – Kosai Sekine’s doc focussing on the famous Taro Okamoto statue constructed for World Expo in Osaka in 1970.

Animation

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  • Aragne: Sign of Vermilion – indie anime in which a young girl steps up to the plate after noticing a weird bug coming out of an old lady’s arm.
  • Chieri and Cherry – kids stop motion animation in which a girl and her stuffed toy try to save some puppies from a mean crow.
  • MAQUIA: When the Promised Flower Blooms – directorial debut from screenwriter Mari Okada in which a young immortal is exiled from her tribe and raises a human baby to maturity only to lose him to time. Review.
  • Penguin Highway – a precocious little boy determines to solve the mystery behind the random appearance of penguins in his small town. Review.

Camera Japan 2019 takes place across two weekends in Rotterdam (25th – 29th September) and Amsterdam (3rd – 6th October). 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 pageTwitter account, and Instagram channel.

Raindance Returns for 2019 with Selection of East Asian Festival Favs

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London’s Raindance Film Festival returns from 18th to 29th September with a handpicked selection of independent filmmaking from across the globe. This year’s programme features a handful of East Asian indie features with a particular concentration on documentaries.

Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly ai weiwei yours truly

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei holds an exhibition of postcards sent to political prisoners across the world in a documentary filmed by Cheryl Haines.

Demolition Girl (Japan)

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A teenage girl starts earning extra money performing in niche videos in which she wears her school uniform and stomps on things in order to escape from her feckless family members in Genta Matsugami’s exploration of life in small-town, working class Japan. Review.

My Dearest Sister (Japan)

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A filmmaker who has lived abroad for many years finds herself at odds with her mother and sister in her relationship to her overbearing father in Kyoka Tsukamoto’s autobiographical documentary.

Night Cruising (Japan)

FILM NIGHT CRUISING

Documentarian Makoto Sasaki follows blind musician Hideyuki Kato as he tries to achieve his dream of directing a science fiction movie.

A Dobugawa Dream (Japan)

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A young man shuts himself away following the suicide of a friend then escapes to find a substitute family with an eccentric older man, a barmaid, a dancer, and a police officer.

Bombie (Laos)

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Documentary by Tanner Matthews and Shelby Baldock following bomb disposal officers in Laos.

On the President’s Orders (Philippines)

On the President's orders

Documentary by James Jones and Olivier Sarbil exploring the effects of Duterte’s war on drugs on those who carry it out.

Song Lang (Vietnam)

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Beautifully filmed, highly atmospheric tragic romance set in 1980s Saigon in which an embittered thug falls for a Cải lương opera star. Review.

Raindance Film Festival takes place at Vue Piccadilly, 18th to 29th September. Tickets are already on sale via Eventbrite. You can also keep up with all the latest details via the festival’s official Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube channels.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Returns for Season Nine

The Attorney still 2Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for its ninth season from Sept. 10 to October 10 with another handpicked selection of the best recent East Asian cinema. Running for five weeks, the season highlights one region each week and also has a special mini focus on movie musicals!

Sept. 10,  7pm: The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale

Introduction and Q&A with Director Lee Min-Jae 

Odd family still 1A weird family take in the “zombie” victim of nefarious pharmaceutical plant experimentation and decide to keep him as a pet, especially once they realise that his bite has healing qualities with intense marketability. Hilarious off the wall zombie comedy. Review.

Sept. 12, 7pm: Juror 8

Introduction and Q&A with Director Hong Seung-Wan 

Juror No 8 still 1Courtroom comedy from Hong Seung-Wan inspired by Korea’s first jury trial in 2008. A young man is accused of murdering his mother. All the evidence points to his guilt and he has also confessed to the crime but one juror isn’t quite convinced.

Sept. 14, 2pm: Swing Kids

Swing Kids still 1A North Korean prisoner of war falls in love with tap dancing after being co-opted into a group by a former broadway dancer turned US Army captain in Kang Hyung-chul’s musical drama.

Sept. 15, 10.30am: Shadow

Shadow bannerDrawing inspiration from classic ink paintings, Zhang Yimou returns to the world of wuxia with a tale of balance and duality as a general’s double processes his conflicted loyalties in a world in which the king is weak and his enemies strong. Review.

Sept. 18, 7pm: Crossing the Border

Introduction and Q&A with Director Huo Meng

Crossing the Border still 1A little boy gets sent to stay with grandpa over the summer, but grandpa unexpectedly gets a message about an old friend he hasn’t seen in a long time and decides to drag his grandson halfway across the country on a makeshift vehicle to go visit him.

Sept. 19, 7pm: The Enigma of the Arrival 

Introduction and Q&A with Director Song Wen and Actress Gu Xuan

Enigma of the Arrival still 1A group of former uni friends reunite years after the disappearance of a friend broke them apart in an experimental drama from the founder of the “Chinese Sundance” Xining FIRST International Film Festival, Song Wen.

Sept. 20, 6pm: Wushu Orphan

Wushu Orphan still 1The new teacher at a martial arts school is disheartened to discover his pupils’ lack of interest in education but bonds with a lonely young boy ironically disinterested in martial arts but talented in his studies. Review.

Sept. 25, 8pm: Melancholic 

Conversation with Director Seiji Tanaka and Producer/Lead Actor Yoji Minagawa 

Melancholic still 1An alienated young man who graduated from Todai but remains totally opposed to the rat race ends up taking a job in a bathhouse after a conversation with a pretty girl he went to high school with, only to find out that the bathhouse doubles as a yakuza killing ground after hours. Review.

Sept. 26, 7pm: Can’t Stop the Dancing (Dance with Me)

dance with me syill 1An ambitious executive’s dreams of promotion are dealt a serious blow when she ends up getting hypnotised by a shady theme park entertainer and finds herself breaking into song and dance like the heroine of an old fashioned Hollywood musical every time she hears music in the latest madcap comedy from Shinobu Yaguchi (Swing Girls, Waterboys, Wood Job!). Review.

Sept. 27, 7pm: Bento Harassment

Bento Harrassment still 1A single mother fed up with her teenage daughter’s nonsense starts sending passive aggressive messages through bento in a tale inspired by a real life blog.

Oct. 2, 7pm: The Pool

The Pool still 1A man ends up having to clean a disused pool after a film shoot but falls asleep on an inflatable raft. When he wakes up, he finds that the water level has fallen so low he can no longer climb out. He screams for help, but the only creature to hear him is a crocodile…

Oct. 3, 7pm: Signal Rock

Introduction and Q&A with Actor Christian Bables, Bright Star Award Recipient 

signal rockA young man from a small island where the only cell phone signal is found on a rocky outcrop desperately tries to help his sister and her child escape an abusive marriage in Finland.

Oct. 5, 2pm: Office

Office (TO) bannerJohnnie To’s beautifully choreographed musical set in the high stakes world of corporate finance.

Oct. 6, 2pm: Long Time no Sea

Long time no Sea bannerA poor boy missing his dad and a resentful teacher dispatched to a remote island against his will eventually bond through the unlikely medium of traditional dance in Heather Tsui’s charming coming of age drama. Review.

Oct. 8, 6pm: Miss Granny

Miss Granny PhilippinesA Philippine take on the Korean musical comedy in which a grumpy, disillusioned old woman visits a mysterious photo gallery and gets a second shot at youth.

Oct. 9, 7pm: Deception of the Novelist

Introduction and Q&A with Director Christopher Sun and Producer/Lead Actor Justin Cheung 

Deception of the novelist still 1A popular novelist’s marriage to his childhood sweetheart is on the rocks thanks to his womanising ways. When an attractive woman moves into the flat above him, he quickly begins having yet another affair but when she threatens blackmail his thoughts turn murderous…

Oct. 10, 7pm:  The Attorney

Introduction and Q&A with Actor Kenneth Tsang Kong, Scriptwriter Frances To, and Executive Producer Cherrie Lau

The Attorney bannerA jaded lawyer agrees to take on a seemingly open and shut case of a young man who wakes up next to the dead body of a billionaire’s daughter with no idea what happened only to find himself caught up in a wider conspiracy.

Asian Pop-up Cinema Season 9 runs in Chicago from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10. Full details for all the films are available via the festival’s official website where tickets are already on sale. You can also keep up with all the latest news by following Asian Pop-up Cinema on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Vimeo.

Japan Cuts Announces Complete 2019 Lineup!

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New York’s Japan Cuts returns for its 13th edition in 2019, bringing with it another premium selection of the best in recent Japanese cinema. This year’s Japan Cuts Cut Above Award goes to veteran director Shinya Tsukamoto whose latest film, anti-jidaigeki Killing, is screening as the festival’s Centrepiece Gala.

The programme in full:

Dance With Me

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An ambitious office worker faces career crisis when she is hypnotised to break into song and dance every time she hears music in the latest from comedy maestro Shinobu Yaguchi (Waterboys, Swing Girls, Survival Family). Q&A with director Shinobu Yaguchi and star Ayaka Miyoshi. 

The Island of Cats

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The peaceful days of an old man and his cat are disrupted by the arrival of a pretty young woman from Tokyo (Kou Shibasaki) and her newly opened cafe in an adaptation of the manga by Nekomaki.

I Go Gaga, My Dear

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TV doc director Naoko Nobutomo follows her ageing parents as her mother’s Alzheimer’s-related dementia intensifies.

Being Natural

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An aimless middle-aged man’s peaceful existence is threatened when hipster Tokyoites rock up in his tiny rural village looking for the “natural life” only to insist on reforming it to their city bound images of idyllic country living in Tadashi Nagayama’s anarchic satire. Review. Q&A with director Tadashi Nagayama and stars Yota Kawase and Natsuki Mieda. 

Ten Years Japan

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Anthology film featuring five dystopian visions of near future Japan. Review.

Samurai Shifters

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Isshin Inudo takes a trip back to the samurai era as a nerdy librarian (Gen Hoshino) is unexpectedly named relocation officer when his clan is ordered to move to another domain.

A Step Forward

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Atsushi Kasezawa’s documentary follows a pastor who commits himself to saving the lives of suicidal individuals who find themselves drawn to a particular cliff in Wakayama. Q&A with director Atsushi Kasezawa. 

The Chaplain

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The late Ren Osugi stars as a prison chaplain ministering to those languishing on death row. (No. 10 on Kinema Junpo’s best of 2018 list)

The Kamagasaki Cauldron War

The Kamagasaki Cauldron War

When a yakuza clan’s precious cauldron is stolen a war breaks out in the Osakan working class district of Kamagasaki. Q&A with star Yota Kawase. 

Demolition Girl

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High school girl Cocoa has given up on her dreams because she has to support her gambling addict father and no good failed manzai comedian brother, but her fortunes change when she finds out her mother left her money and if she can just top it up a little she could escape her humble life by getting into a top university in Tokyo. Q&A with director Genta Matsugami and star Aya Kitai. 

And Your Bird Can Sing

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Three slackers struggle to accept love in present day Hakodate in Sho Miyake’s adaptation of the Yasushi Sato novel in which an apathetic bookstore employee (Tasuku Emoto) starts a halfhearted romance with a free spirited colleague (Shizuka Ishibashi) only to introduce her to his infatuated best friend (Shota Sometani). Review.

His Lost Name

His Lost Name

A small-town carpenter (Kaoru Kobayashi) takes in a drifter (Yuya Yagira) he finds unconscious on the side of the road but their growing paternal bond begins to place a strain on his relationships with his fiancée (Keiko Horiuchi) and employees in Nanako Hirose’s sensitive debut. Q&A with director Nanako Hirose.

Red Snow

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Mystery thriller starring Arata and Masatoshi Nagase in which a dogged journalist’s unearthing of a decades old child disappearance in a small rural town opens up old wounds.

Killing

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A samurai prefers not to raise his sword but finds himself tested by his times in Shinya Tsukamoto’s impassioned anti-violence jidaigeki. Review. Q&A with director Shinya Tsukamoto, with CUT ABOVE Award ceremony. 

Bullet Ballet

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An ad director becomes obsessed with the idea of finding a gun after his fiancée shoots herself in Tsukamoto’s 1998 classic. Q&A with director Shinya Tsukamoto. 

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Miyoko Asada stars as Satoko – a con artist whose gradual path to wealth through pyramid schemes and increasingly elaborate scams eventually leads her to reinvent herself in Thailand as a 38-year-old woman named Erica.

Jesus

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A young boy relocates from Tokyo to a sleepy mountain village where he has to bunk with grandma and attend catholic school. His days are eventually brightened through meeting a tiny Jesus who grants all his wishes until an inescapable tragedy colours his view of religion in Hiroshi Okuyama’s whimsical debut. ReviewQ&A with director Hiroshi Okuyama. 

Melancholic

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Kazuhiko graduated from Todai, but he’s now unemployed and living with mum and dad. A chance encounter with a pretty friend from school leads him to a job in a bathhouse but his fortunes change again when he realises the baths double as a yakuza killing ground after hours… Review.

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan

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A shogi-loving child prodigy (Ryuhei Matsuda) is devastated when he hits the age limit for becoming a professional player but eventually finds amateur success and then the courage to challenge the system in Toshiaki Toyoda’s surprisingly inspirational drama. Review. Q&A with director Toshiaki Toyoda. 

Jeux de plage

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Rohmerian drama in which college friends Sayaka and Yui take a trip to the beach where they meet up with Yui’s old pal Momoko but find their dynamic disrupted by sleazy passersby and mutual awkwardness.

The Journalist

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Korean actress Shim Eun-kyung makes the first of two Japanese language performances included in the programme as an earnest Tokyo journalist haunted by her father’s suicide, playing opposite Tori Matsuzaka as a cynical bureaucrat who discovers evidence of coverup and conspiracy.

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers

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Long forgotten, Macoto Tezka’s anarchic cult comedy debut has been lovingly rediscovered and restored by Third Window Films. A tale of fame, corruption, and destiny, Stardust Brothers is a whimsical piece of absurdist Showa-era nostalgia . Review. Q&A with director Macoto Tezka. 

Randen: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram

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Three stories of love occur along the the iconic Kyoto tram line as a writer from Kamakura searches for a ghost train while recalling memories of his wife, a local girl helps a Tokyo actor master the Kyoto accent, and a girl from Aomori falls for a trainspotter!

NIGHT CRUISING

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Makoto Sasaki’s documentary follows blind musician Hideyuki Kato as he works on a sci-fi short in which a non-sighted fighter and a telepath search for a mysterious ghost in the far future. Q&A with director Makoto Sasaki, producer Miyuki Tanaka and subject Hideyuki Kato. 

Orphan’s Blues

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A young woman suffering unexplained loss of memory goes in search of a childhood friend after rediscovering a drawing of an elephant in Riho Kudo’s award winning debut.

Blue Hour

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30-ish Sunada (Kaho) is becoming rapidly disillusioned with city life. She’s worked her way up to directing commercials but finds herself mostly dealing with workplace sexism and difficult stars while she is also carrying on an affair with a married colleague. Taking off on a road trip with her lively best friend mangaka (Korean actress Shim Eun-kyung in her second Japanese language role included in the programme), she is finally forced to reconnect with her rural childhood and rediscovers her sense of self in the process. Review.

Japan Cuts runs from 19th to 28th July 2019 at Japan Society New York. Full details for all the films along with ticketing links are available via the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival’s official Facebook page and Twitter account.

Nippon Connection Confirms Full Lineup for 2019!

marriage hunting beauty still 1Nippon Connection, the largest showcase for Japanese cinema anywhere in the world, returns with another fantastic selection of new and classic films screening in Frankfurt from 28th May to 2nd June. Opening with the latest quirky rom-com from Tremble All You Want’s Akiko Ohku Marriage Hunting Beauty, the festival will also welcome Guest of Honour Shinya Tsukamoto with a screening of his latest film Killing plus classics Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tokyo Fist. Meanwhile, this year’s classics strand is dedicated to Golden Era actress Ayako Wakao. The programme in full:

Nippon Cinema

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  • And Your Bird Can Sing – Adapted from the novel by Yasushi Sato, And Your Bird Can Sing follows a trio of lost youngsters as they drift into an almost certainly destructive ménage à trois.
  • Another World – a middle-aged man keeps his family at a distance but the reappearance of a childhood friend begins to shake his world in the latest from Junji Sakamoto.
  • Asako I & II – A young woman finds herself torn between old love and new in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s whimsical drama. Review.
  • The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine – Taisho era tale of sumo and revolution in which a band of anarchists find themselves fascinated by an itinerant troupe of female sumo wrestlers shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 in the latest from Takahisa Zeze.
  • Dare to Stop Us – Kazuya Shiraishi’s nostalgic look back at the heyday of Wakamatsu Production through the eyes a young female AD. Review.
  • Dawn Wind in my Poncho – a trio of college kids takes a last roadtrip before graduation.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – zany comedy from Hideki Takeuchi in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority. Review.
  • Hard-Core – a purehearted guy with a violent streak laments the cruelty of the modern world but finds friendship with a lonely homeless man and a robot they find in an abandoned factory.
  • Inuyashiki – an angry young man and mild-mannered dad get superpowers on the same day in Shinsuke Sato’s blockbuster manga adaptation. Review.
  • It’s Boring Here, Pick Me Up – ensemble drama from Ryuichi Hiroki following 10 years in the lives of a collection of lost souls from small town Japan.
  • Jam – Returning to the realms of Dangan Runner, Sabu brings three dreaming guys together through the power of cosmic coincidence. Review.
  • Killing – a samurai prefers not to pick up his sword in Shinya Tsukamoto’s first foray into the jidaigeki.
  • Love at Least – a young woman with bipolar tries to get her life together but is frustrated by the reappearance of her supportive boyfriend’s manipulative ex. Review.
  • Lying to Mom – When her son tries to hang himself, the mother of the Suzuki family knocks herself out in an effort to save him and winds up in a coma. When she wakes up, she can’t remember anything of the incident. Lacking the heart to tell her the truth, the family pretend he is alive and well and living in Argentina.
  • Marriage Hunting Beauty – manga adaptation from Akiko Ohku in which a beautiful woman with terrible taste in men decides to get married.
  • The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan – shogi drama from Toshiaki Toyoda.
  • Ramen Shop – a bereaved ramen chef travels to Singapore after finding the diary of his late mother.
  • Room Laundering – a young woman puts her ability to see ghosts to a productive use. Review.
  • Special Screening: Tetsuo: The Iron Man – classic 1989 cyberpunk from Shinya Tsukamoto.
  • Special Screening: The Legend of the Stardust Brothers – rediscovered ’80s cult classic from Macoto Tezka.
  • Special Screening: Tokyo Fist – classic boxing drama from Shinya Tsukamoto.
  • Thicker Than Water – ironic warring siblings comedy. Review.
  • We are Little Zombies – anarchic pop comedy in which four orphaned kids decide to start a band!

NIPPON VISIONS

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  • Ahum – atmospheric black and white horror film in which a nuclear plant employee begins to lose his grasp on reality.
  • Blue Hour – a young woman takes her best friend on a roadtrip to her home town but finds old wounds reopening on reuniting with her family.
  • The Call of Zon – experimental science fiction film in which a small town has been walled off by a mysterious force known as Zon for the past 20 years.
  • The Chaplin – Ren Osugi stars as a prison chaplain ministering to death row prisoners.
  • Complicity – an undocumented man from China starts working at a soba restaurant but lives in constant fear of discovery.
  • Jesus – a 10-year-old boy moves to his grandmother’s out in the country and has to attend a Christian school.
  • Life Finds a Way – the latest from Hirobumi Watanabe is a meta take on the filmmaking process.
  • Melancholic – a graduate of a top university takes a job in a bathhouse and is shocked to discover it doubles as a yakuza killing ground in Seiji Tanaka’s ironic debut.
  • Sea – a man who witnessed a rape as a teenager but did nothing to help muses on his failings when he meets the perpetrators again years later.
  • Tourism – two women take a trip to Singapore but things take a turn for the strange when one gets lost.

Nippon Docs

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  • Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa – documentary exploring the child soldiers who fought under the Japanese during the battle of Okinawa.
  • From All Corners – a young man gives up his job to become a cardboard picker.
  • I Go Gaga, My Dear – director Naoko Nobutomo follows her elderly parents and charts the development of her mother’s Alzheimer’s.
  • Japanese Documentaries Presented by NHK World-Japan – two NHK docs including the first episode of 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki, and another about a Syrian musician’s discovery of a piano which survived the 1945 nuclear attack.
  • Kagura Troupe on the Beat – traditional shinto music and dance.
  • Portraits of the Rainbow – Ayumi Nakagawa follows photographer Leslie Kee as he photographs members of the LGBT community in order to combat their invisibility within Japanese society.
  • Sending Off – Nippon Connection regular Ian Thomas Ash returns with a documentary following a doctor and her team of nurses as they offer hospice care to patients in their homes.
  • Shinjuku Tiger – Yoshinori Sato follows the man in the tiger mask often seen around Shinjuku.
  • Tower of the Sun Love at Least director Kosai Sekine uses Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun as a jumping off point to explore the evolution of Japanese culture

Nippon Animation

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Nippon Retro: Ayako Wakao – Magnificent Icon of Japanese Cinema

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  • An Actor’s Revenge – Kon Ichikawa classic in which an onnagata attempts to avenge the death of his parents.
  • The Blue Sky Maiden – cheerful melodrama in which a young woman travels to live with her birth father’s family but is fiercely resented by her step-mother and half siblings. Marks the first collaboration between Yasuzo Masumura and his later muse. Review.
  • Elegant Beast – satirical comedy from Yuzo Kawashima in which a criminal family meets their match in a wily entertainment accountant.
  • Floating Weeds – Ozu classic in which the leader of an itinerant theatre troupe reunites with his former lover in a seaside town.
  • The Goddess of Mercy – Yasuzo Masumura’s adaptation of the Junichiro Tanizaki novel in which a bored housewife enters a relationship with a woman she meets at art class who reminds her of the goddess of mercy. Review.
  • The Red Angel – Ayako Wakao stars as a frontline nurse in Masumura’s powerful anti-war drama. Review.
  • Seisaku’s Wife – a young woman marries an old man and continues to live alone after he dies suddenly becoming a social pariah until she falls in love with a model soldier.
  • Women are Born Twice – Wakao stars as a melancholy geisha in another comic drama from Yuzo Kawashima.

Nippon Connection takes place in Frankfurt, Germany from 28th May to 2nd June. Tickets are available from 11th May via the official website where you can also find full details on all the films as well as timetabling information. Unless otherwise stated, films screen in Japanese with English subtitles. In addition to the films the festival will also host a series of events including director talks and workshops in a rich cultural programme. You can keep up with all the latest information by following the festival on FacebookTwitterYouTubeFlickr, and Instagram.