Nippon 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 6th to 11th June. This year’s Nippon Rising Star Award will go to Drive My Car’s Toko Miura whose films I Am What I Am, and Our Huff and Puff Journey, will also be screening.
- #Manhole – a salaryman’s moment of triumph is disrupted when he falls down a manhole the night before his wedding in Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s unhinged B-movie thriller. Review.
- A Far Shore – a teenage mother struggles to make a life for herself in contemporary Okinawa in Masaaki Kudo’s bleak social drama. Review.
- A Hundred Flowers – an expectant father finds himself confronted with paternal anxiety and past trauma on learning that his mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Genki Kawamura’s adaptation of his own novel. Review.
- Baby Assassins – a pair of mismatched high school girls raised as elite assassins get swept into gangland conflict while forced to live together to learn how integrate into society in Yugo Sakamoto’s deadpan slacker comedy. Review.
- Baby Assassins 2 – sequel in which the girls give up their jobs as hitwomen but are chased by two other killers for hire.
- December – bereaved parents are confronted by the unresolved past when the woman who killed their daughter appeals her sentence in Anshul Chauhan’s empathetic courtroom drama. Review.
- Egoist – LGBTQ+ romantic drama from Daishi Matsunaga (Pieta in the Toilet) in which a fashion editor falls in love with a personal trainer.
- I Am What I Am – sensitive drama in which an asexual woman is pressured into a blind date but ends up making a friend instead.
- Lesson in Murder – a diffident student falls under the spell of a manipulative serial killer in Kazuya Shirashi’s intense mystery drama. Review.
- Mondays: See You This Week – timeloop comedy in which a collection of colleagues are forced to endure the same week over and over again.
- Mountain Woman – mystical drama set in the late 18th century in which a young woman walks into the mountains and meets a mysterious man.
- My Small Land – a young woman’s life is destabilised when her father’s asylum claim is rejected in Emma Kawada’s empathetic debut feature. Review.
- Nabbie’s Love – Okinawan dramedy in which a woman quits her job in Tokyo and returns to her grandparents’ home only for her life to be distupted when grandma’s first love resurfaces.
- Okiku and the World – period drama from Junji Sakamoto in which two manure men encounter a samurai’s daughter.
- Plan 75 – an elderly woman finds herself pushed towards voluntary euthanasia by a society driven only by productivity in Chie Hayakawa’s dark dystopian drama. Review.
- Shin Ultraman – Ultraman returns to rescue kaiju-plagued Japan from geopolitical tensions and internal bureaucracy in Shinji Higuchi’s take on the classic tokusatsu franchise. Review.
- Special Screening: Drive my Car – a theatre director begins to overcome his sense of inertia after bonding with a young woman hired to drive his car in Hamaguchi’s deeply moving drama. Review.
- Special Screening: Our Huff and Puff Journey – youth drama from Daigo Matsui in which four superfans of the band CreepHyp take off on a road trip to Tokyo by bicycle.
- Spring In Between – romantic drama in which a magazine editor falls in love with an autistic painter.
- Straying – an adulterous couple on the brink of divorce are brought closer together while looking for their runaway cat in Rikiya Imaizumi’s contemporary romantic drama. Review.
- The Zen Diary – a mountain ascetic gains a new perspective when confronted with mortality in Yuji Nakae’s contemplative foodie drama. Review.
- Thorns of Beauty – two women team up to get revenge on a no good ex.
- To the Supreme – zany comedy about four women in relationships with terrible boyfriends.
- Yudo – a young man returns home hoping to turn his father’s old bathhouse into an apartment complex but soon reconsiders.
- Future Boy Conan – three episodes of the classic Hayao Miyazaki-directed series. Screening in German dub/Japanese with German subtitles.
- Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom – fantasy anime in which the wedding between the children of two kingdoms is disrupted.
- Lonely Castle in the Mirror – an isolated young woman discovers a magic portal to a desert island.
- Poupelle of Chimeney Town – animated adaptation of the picture book by Akihiro Nishino. Screening in Japanese with English subtitles / German dub.
- Special Screening: Tekkonkinkreet – a pair of orphan street kids find battle to save their town from gangster developers in Michael Arias’ atmospheric adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga. Review.
- Sumikkogurashi: The Little Wizard in the Blue Moonlight – adorable adventure in which the Sumikkogurashi guys go on an adventure to see the moon. Screening in Japanese with with German live synchronisation.
- The Deer King – a lone survivor comes to represent both salvation and destruction in Ando & Miyaji’s fantasy adventure. Review. Screening in Japanese with German subtitles.
- Amiko – Quirky drama loosely inspired by Natsuko Imamura’s novel Atarashii Musume following an eccentric young girl in the wake of a traumatic event in her family.
- Double Life – a former dancer who gave up her career following an injury hires a ringer to pose as her husband when he refuses to take part in a couples dance workshop.
- Hoarder on the Border – a failed pianist takes a job clearing houses and is confronted by dark secrets.
- Journey – probing drama in which a cleaner applies to go on a space expedition.
- Remembering Every Night – drama following a series of women living in Tama New Town.
- Roleless – a cable car driver and perpetual movie extra flounders when forced to play the leading role in his own life.
- Sayonara Girls – teen friendship drama following four young women as they prepare to leave high school.
- Scary Friend – eerie fairytale in which a young girl whose only friends are stuffed toys she makes herself encounters a mysterious killer.
- Single 8 – teen drama set in the summer of 1978 when a group of friends decide to make a movie after seeing Star Wars.
- TOCKA – drama in which a man wants to die so that his daughter can have the insurance money but his policy doesn’t cover suicide so he teams up with someone else in a similar position.
- Your Lovely Smile – Hirobumi Watanabe stars as a version of himself but this time for Lim Kah-Wai as the pair come together in shared sensibly and frustration with the indie way of life. Review.
- A Son – documentary following a social worker who adopts a 20-year-old man.
- I Am a Comedian – documentary following a controversial comedian who was banned by TV networks because of his political rants.
- Maelstrom – personal documentary following the director’s return home from New York after becoming a wheelchair user following an accident.
- My Anniversaries – documentary following a man who was falsely imprisoned for murder for 29 years and has continued to fight to clear his name since his release on parole in 1996.
- Soup and Ideology – documentarian Yang Yonghi returns to the subject of her family in coming to an understanding of her mother while learning of her traumatic history. Review.
- Special Screening: Ryuichi Sakamoto – Coda – documentary following late musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. Screening in original language with German subtitles.
- Tokyo Uber Blues – documentary filmmaker Taku Aoyagi documents his life as after taking a job as an Uber Eats driver in the early days of the pandemic.
- Umui – Guardians of Traditions – documentary focussing on traditional music and dance in Okinawa.
This year’s Nippon Retro is dedicated to Keisuke Kinoshita.
- Army – subversive wartime propaganda film in which a mother prepares to send her son away to war.
- Carmen Comes Home – Japan’s first colour film starring Hideko Takamine as a young woman who visits home after becoming a famous stripper in Tokyo.
- Carmen’s Pure Love – loose sequel in which Carmen struggles to make it in the city and is drawn into the elite art scene and the political campaign of a right-wing candidate.
- Morning for the Osone Family – melancholy drama in which a family is divided by war.
- She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum – heartbreaking romantic drama in which an old man looks back on his doomed first love. Review.
- Spring Dreams – chaos engulfs a wealthy family when a sweet potato man collapses in their house. Review.
- The River Fuefuki – period drama in which peasant brothers enlist in the Takeda army in order to escape their poverty.
- Snow Flurry – drama following a mother and son treated as poor relations by the father’s noble family. Review.
- Twenty-Four Eyes – moving drama following a school teacher who is sent to a remote island in 1928 and witnesses it torn apart by the effects of war despite its physical distance.
Nippon Connection takes place in Frankfurt, Germany from 6th to 11th June. Tickets are available now 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. You can keep up with all the latest information by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.