Preview: Contemporary Japanese Auteurs, Whose Film is it Anyway?

[wide] | Preview: Contemporary Japanese Auteurs, Whose Film is it Anyway? [/wide]This year’s Japan Foundation annual touring film programme looks at narrative creativity by contemporary Japanese directors in contrast to the recent storm of adaptations, and how they express their voices through cinema

. Ranging from the emerging to the established, this programme showcases directors who are not necessarily well-represented in this country, but whose works demonstrate their keen creativity.

This programme is an effort to demonstrate that there are in fact still a number of Japanese directors who, rather than being swayed by ever-fickle markets and following a “safe” formulaic film model, have instead elected to pursue their own methods of expressing themselves and using film as a voice.

Anyone who has seen the films of Yasujirō Ozu will be aware that Japan has a rich tradition of narrative film-making. Unfortunately, much of today’s output is concentrated around adaptations from TV, Manga and popular fiction (and even video games – Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney anyone?!). However, there are a lot of very talented directors out there who do not often get the opportunity to show their work outside of Japan.

This is an unique opportunity to see some excellent films which otherwise would be unlikely to get an international release. It’s also an opportunity to gain more of an insight into the real Japan. The highlights of a very strong line-up for me are:

About Her Brother (Ototo) – 22nd February – 6pm

Ginko (Sayuri Yoshinaga) is increasingly frustrated with her younger brother Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei), who has never really grown up, and dreams of becoming a famous singer. His drunken appearance at the wedding of Ginko’s daughter is the last straw for her, but she can’t quite bring herself to sever ties with him, in part blaming herself for his shambolic life. Can the sibling bond between them ultimately supersede their differences?

From the director of Twilight Samurai, Love and Honour & The Hidden Blade, Yoji Yamada, About Her Brother was nominated for 11 Japanese Academy awards in 2011.

A Stranger of Mine (Unmei Janai Hito) – Thursday 23rd February

Takeshi Miyata (Yasuhi Nakamura) is a straitlaced business man, and this film follows him over the course of one long Friday evening, where he meets many people, all who have intertwining fates. After six months, he is still getting over his girlfriend Ayumi (Yuka Itaya), and when his childhood friend, the now detective Yusuke Kanda, telephones about Ayumi, he has to find out what is happening. The two meet, and Miyata learns that his ex-girlfriend is getting married. The detective invites a random solitary diner to join the two men, before making a hasty exit and leaving the two alone. The diner, Maki (Reika Kirishima), whose engagement was called off the day before, returns with Miyata to his apartment, but soon Ayumi appears wanting some of her things.

Yakuza intrigue too plays a role in this gripping feature. Director Kenji Uchida‟s debut work won numerous awards for his writing including the SACD Screenwriting Award at Cannes in 2005.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI3SWz9ef10

The Rest of the program:

Sleep (Nemuri Yusurika)

The desperate story of a family who have sacrificed everything to bring to account the rapist who changed all their lives.

Dear Doctor

A young medical graduate opts for a job in a remote mountain village, where everything is not as it seems.

Bad Company (Mabudachi)

Teenager Sadamoto is torn between a desire to please his father and a need to rebel against him, as his middle school teacher.

The Dark Harbour (Futoko)

When recording a video message for a matchmaking party, solitary fisherman Manzo makes an unusual discovery.

I Just Didn’t Do It (Soredemo Boku Wa Yattenai)

The story of a young man accused of groping a woman on a crowded Tokyo train, and his battle with the Japanese legal system.

All Around Us (Gururi No Koto)

The journey of a married couple after a miscarriage, and how they each begin to come to terms with its reality.

Whose Film is it Anyway? runs between 17th – 23rd February at The Showroom Cinema: http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/japanfoundation