Examining the country’s past through the eyes of contemporary filmmakers such as Kore-eda and Takashi Miike, the Japan Foundation’s latest touring film programme debuts on 1 February…
Beginning at the ICA London, and touring around the UK to Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield, Once Upon a Time in Japan will be screen UK premieres of Rebirth (Yokame no semi), Izuru Narushima’s acclaimed drama questioning nature over nurture scooped an astounding 11 awards at the 2012 Japanese Academy Awards 2012, including best film and best director; Castle Under Fiery Skies (Katen no shiro), Mitsutoshi Tanaka’s well-crafted spin on the period drama genre is a heart-warming tale of one ordinary man’s skill and determination; and Ninja Kids!!! (Nintama rantaro), a live-action adaptation of the long-running children’s cartoon from the warped mind of Takashi Miike.
Zero Focus (Zero no shoten), Isshin Inudo’s gripping Hitchcockian murder-mystery set in the beautiful location of post war Kanazawa, will have its London premiere. Featuring an all-star female cast including Tae Kimura, Ryoko Hirosue and Miki Nakatani its an adaptation of the celebrated crime novel by Seicho Matsumoto and revival of the classic 1961 Yoshitaro Nomura film. Director Isshin Inudo will attend screenings at the ICA and Showroom, Sheffield. The lovely Hirosue, so fantastic in Key Of Life, also appears in Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust (Baburu e go! Taimu mashin wa doramu-shiki), Yasuo Baba’s 2007 time-travel comedy is a hilarious satire of bubble-era Japan, filled with nostalgic gags, retro fashion and music, again receiving its UK premiere.
Adapted from Nobuko Takagi’s famous novel, Sunao Katabuchi’s Mai Mai Miracle (Maimai shinko to sennen no maho) is a beautifully animated nostalgic tale of friendship in post-war Japan.
The acclaimed Hula Girls (Hura garu), by Lee Sang-Il, is a heart-warming comedy about coal miners’ daughters who took a once-in-a-lifetime chance to escape their monotonous lives, only to become unwitting heroes to their depressed mining town as well as the whole of Japan.
Lee, the director of Villian and currently busy on an Asian version of Unforgiven – Yurusarezaru Mono, also contributes to horror anthology Kaidan Horror Classics (Ayashiki bungo kaidan) with The Nose (Hana); Inspired by an early short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this loose interpretation retains the protagonist’s predicament, and includes elegant cinematography, reminiscent of classic period films. Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Kotoko director Shinya Tsukamoto provides The Whistler (Hazakura to mateki), Based on the original story by Dazai Osamu, Tsukamoto’s distinctive cinematic style portrays the inner rage of adolescents towards those dear to them. The last in this trilogy, The Days After (Nochi no hi), features Hirokazu Kore-eda (Air Doll, I Wish) with a strange and serene story of a family’s days spent with the son who seems to have come back to life, is adapted from the fantasy stories by Murou Saisei.