The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme returns!

It’s been over six months since I last blogged on here (I’ve been busy with my book writing!) but I obviously had to come out of hibernation to get you excited about the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (JFTFP) line-up!

The JFTFP is now in its 16th year and is one of the biggest highlights in the UK-Japan calendar, in my opinion. It’s touring 19 cities nationwide (2 February – 28 March) with the theme of love – specifically ‘People Still Call It Love: Passion, Affection and Destruction in Japanese Cinema’. From contemporary dramas to anime and classics, it is the largest of its kind focusing on Japanese cinema in the UK.

You can catch the JFTFP film line-up at a range of cinemas across the UK – Belfast, Bristol, Chester, Colchester, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Halifax, Inverness, Kendal, Leicester, Lewes, London (ICA), London (Soho), Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Stirling.

Three Japanese directors whose programmes are in the line-up will also be attending select screenings for some Q&As: Keisuke Yoshida (Thicker Than Water), Yukiko Mishima (Dear Etranger) and Hikaru Toda (Of Love and Law).

What’s on…

Thicker Than Water (Ken’en) – Keisuke Yoshida, 2018

A straight-laced office worker, Kazunari (Masataka Kubota), is suddenly besieged by his jailbird brother, while a competent but unattractive shopkeeper, Yuriya (Keiko Enoue), stands always in the shadow of her pretty sister. A gripping drama exploring universally experienced sibling rivalry and the thin line between love and hate.

Dear Etranger (Osanago warera ni umare) – Yukiko Mishima, 2017

What does it take to attain the ideal of a united family? In this poignant drama, a 40 year old man (Tadanobu Asano) faces many trials in making his patchwork clan work: teenage angst of his new wife’s daughter; a new child on the way; a career in decline.

Of Love & Law (Ai to hou) – Hikaru Toda, 2017

Fumi and Kazu are partners in love and law. Establishing Japan’s first law firm run by an openly gay couple, their plight to challenge the status quo of a superficially homogenous society by taking on cases of civil rights misconduct is laid bare in Hikaru Toda’s revealing documentary. This film is screening in London Soho only.

Tremble All You Want (Katte ni furuetero) -Akiko Ohku, 2017

Rom-com adaptation of Risa Wataya’s novel depicts a love life in disarray. Will a junior accountant Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka), who is inexperienced in love, choose bachelor number 1 – her former high school crush, or bachelor number 2 – an office colleague interested in dating her?

Pumpkin and Mayonnaise (Kabocha to mayonezu) – Masanori Tominaga, 2017

Tsuchida (Asami Usuda) works secretly at a host club to support her live-in boyfriend, Seiichi (Taiga), an uninspired and struggling musician. Just as her double life is about to be discovered, an old flame returns to Tsuchida’s life throwing her heart into disarray. Based on Kiriko Nananan’s epic comic illustrating a painful love story of sacrifice, irresoluteness and betrayal.

My Friend ‘A’ (Yuuzai) – Takahisa Zeze, 2018

After one of his articles inadvertently causes a tragedy, a journalist (Toma Ikuta) resigns himself to a life of labour at a small factory. There he meets the recluse Suzuki (Eita); he soon begins to suspect the co-worker may have been responsible for a spate of child murders 17 years ago..

The Scythian Lamb (Hitsuji no ki) -Daihachi Yoshida, 2018

A small seaside town decides to welcome six strangers into the community in an effort to mitigate its population decline. But the motley crew of newcomers have a chequered past and, before long, uneasiness begins to creep over the quiet city in this blackly comic suspense thriller.

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (DESTINY: Kamakura monogatari) -Takashi Yamazaki, 2017

Spectacular live-action adaptation of a bestselling fantasy manga series set in old-town Kamakura. One morning, mystery writer Masakazu (Masato Sakai) wakes to find his new bride spirited away, prompting him to embark on an epic journey to bring her back.

Penguin Highway – Hiroyasu Ishida, 2018

A fourth-grader, Aoyama, enlists his friends in a mission to investigate the sudden and puzzling influx of penguins in his village; a phenomenon which is somehow connected to the powers of Aoyama’s crush – a young woman working at a dental clinic.

Where Chimneys Are Seen (Entotsu no mieru basho) – Heinosuke Gosho, 1953

Ryukichi (Ken Uehara) lives in a cheap rental house together with his wife, Hiroko (Kinuyo Tanaka), who was traumatised in the war. One day, a baby is abandoned on their doorstep. Who is the mother? A drama representative of Gosho’s work, this is a rare find that focuses on family life in the downtown of post-war Tokyo.

Dad’s Lunch Box (Papa no obento wa sekai ichi) -Masakazu Fukatsu, 2017

Based on a touching true story and viral sensation on Twitter. Freshly divorced dad (Toshimi Watanabe) faces a new micro challenge in the unfamiliar life as a single parent: preparing his teenage daughter’s daily lunchbox having never cooked a meal in his life. How will he get on?

Her Love Boils Bathwater (Yu wo wakasu hodo no atsui ai) –  Ryôta Nakano, 2016

A mother’s love burns hot. Using a heartrending diagnosis as a catalyst, this internationally-acclaimed drama charts the race of a terminally ill woman (Rie Miyazawa) to mend her family in the time she has left.

Good Stripes (Good Stripes) – Yukiko Sode, 2015

Midori (Akiko Kikuchi) and Masao (Ayumu Nakajima) consider breaking up as their relationship grows dull. Just then, Midori discovers she is pregnant and they feel obligated to stay together. While preparing for their shotgun wedding, vast differences in their upbringing arise.

Blindly In Love (Hakoiri musuko no koi) – Masahide Ichii, 2013

35 year old local council employee Kentaro (Gen Hoshino) is socially inept, leading a monotonous life and finding it hard to date. Desperate, his parents arrange a meeting between Kentaro and a beautiful woman, Naoko (Kaho). It is revealed she is blind. Will a tender romance bloom?

Tonight, at the Movies (a.k.a. Color Me True) (Konya, romansu gekijo de) – Hideki Takeuchi, 2018

Set in the 60s, an aspiring director’s dreams materialise quite literally when he meets Princess Miyuki (Haruka Ayase) who magically steps off the screen one night, all in monochrome. Kenji (Kentaro Sakaguchi) cannot help falling in love with his fantasy girl but she has a secret…

Yurigokoro – Naoto Kumazawa, 2017

“Without remorse, I take a life…” So begins an incriminating diary entry discovered by Ryosuke (Tori Matsuzaka) in the study of his dying father. But is it a confession or just fanciful storytelling? Based on Mahokaru Numata’s mystery novel, Nan-Core, the film illustrates a devastating love story.

Born Bone Born (Senkotsu) – Toshiyuki Teruya, 2018

Family ties are pulled taut and frayed when the Shinjo clan comes together for the customary ritual of senkotsu, or ‘bone washing’, of their matriarch – an indigenous tradition in the remote island of Okinawa. A humorous exploration of one family’s connection with their ancestry.

Three Stories of Love (Koibitotachi) – Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2015

A widower (Atsushi Shinohara) seeks revenge for his wife’s murder. Toko (Toko Narushima) is an unfulfilled and exploited housewife. Elite lawyer Shinomiya (Ryo Ikeda) harbours secret feelings for his male friend. Offering a glimpse into the microcosm of relationships within Japanese society, three vignettes tell very different stories of love, loss and rejection.

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