Like they did in the previous years, the Eiga Sai Japanese Film Festival continues to showcase the finest of Japanese cinema. For the 2017 edition, they are offering 20 films that allow us to take a bite into their culture, and celebrate their brilliance. Here’s the full lineup:
• Asian Mirror Three-Fold 2016: Reflections (2016)
This Omnibus film brought together three globally acclaimed directors from Asia with a common theme ‘Living Together in Asia’ to depict the lives of characters who journey between Japan and Cambodia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Brillante Ma Mendoza of the Philippines grapples with the issue of loss of National Identity and Home, setting his story in the Obihiro area of Hokkaido and Manila in the Philippines with a dinamic linkage of Shiniuma=Dead Horse. Isao Yukisada of Japan set the story in Malaysia where the Japanese army was once stationed but is now home to many Japanese ritirees living out their remaining years. The story revolves around an elderly man who has parted from his family in Japan to live alone in Penang. But when a new helper comes to the house, he slowly opens up his mind and unexpectable bond becomes formed between two. At last, Sotho Kulikar of Cambodia conveys a story of love unfolds across past and present against the backdrop of the nation’s civil war. The Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge for real in Phnom Penh gave inspiration to the director in creating a beautiful but heartrending love story between Cambodia and Japan.
Directed by Brillante Mendoza (Shiniuma Dead Horse), Isao Yukisada (Pigeon), Sotho Kulikar (Beyond the Bridge)
Cast: Lou Veloso (Shiniuma Dead Horse), Masahiko Tsugawa, Sharifah Amani, Masatoshi Nagase (Pigeon), Masaya Kato, Chumvan Sodhachivy, Osamu Shigematsu (Beyond the Bridge)
Genre: Romance, Drama
– Shiniuma Dead Horse:
Marcial, an illegal Filipino immigrant in Japan, is deported back to the Philippines after several decades. He arrives in his hometown but his family has long dispersed and there is no place for him.
Set in Malaysia, a land where the Japanese army was once stationed but is now home to many Japanese retirees living out their remaining years,the story revolves around an elderly man who has parted from his family in Japan to live alone in Penang. He is in constant discord with his son, but when a new helper comes to the house, he slowly opens up and a bond forms between the two.
– Beyond the Bridge:
Set at the actual Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge in Phnom Penh, this is a story of love unfolding across past and present, against the backdrop of the nation’s civil war. In 1994, a Japanese man stands on the bridge and recalls the past decades, when he came to Cambodia to build it, and fell in love with beautiful Mealea.
Run time: 1hr. 58 mins/118 mins.
• Bakuman (2015)
Directed by Hitoshi Ohne
Cast: Satoh Takeru, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Komatsu Nana
Live action adaptation of the coming-of-age comic from the “DEATH NOTE” team with original story by Ohba Tsugumi and artwork by Obata Takeshi. Graphically portrays two high school students struggling to become top manga creators, based on the reality of the industry. Director One Hitoshi handled the live-action adaptation of the comic Love Strikes! High school student Moritaka (Satoh Takeru), whose manga artist uncle died from overwork, is talented but spends his days aimlessly. His classmate Akito (Kamiki Ryunosuke) dreams of writing original manga stories, and one day invites Moritaka to team up and become manga creators together.
Run time: 1 hr. 59 mins./119 mins.
• Chihayafuru Part 1 & 2 (2016)
Directed by Koizumi Nori
Cast: Hirose Suzu, Nomura Shuhei, Mackenyu
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Hirose Suzu debuts in her first leading movie role as the heroine, Ayase Chihaya. Hirose has become the most sought after teen actress since her appearance in the hit films Our Little Sister and The Boy and The Beast. Directed by Koizumi Nori of The Liar and His Lover. Chihaya (Hirose Suzu), Taichi (Nomura Shuhei) and Arata (Mackenyu) are childhood friends, bound by their passion for “competitive karuta (Japanese traditional playing cards).” Chihaya and Taichi are reunited in high school, and together, they form the “Competitive Karuta Club” to train and compete in the national championship.
Run time: Part 1 – 1 hr. 51 mins./ 111 mins. • Part 2 – 1 hr. 42 mins./102 mins.
• Creepy (2016)
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Hidetoshi Nishijima, Sumida Setsuko, Akagi Satoshi, Ishida Satoko
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Film adaptation of Maekawa Yutaka’s mystery novel detailing the intertwining double enigmas of an unsolved missing family case and an odd, neighboring family. Directed by world-renowned director Kurosawa Kiyoshi, of the horror film Pulse among others it screened at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. Criminal psychologist Takakura (Nishijima Hidetoshi) is asked by detective Nogami (Higashide Masahiro) to analyze a missing family case from six years ago. He questions the only living person who remembers the case, but cannot untangle the mystery. Meanwhile, having just moved, Takakura and his wife (Takeuchi Yuko) can’t seem to figure out their neighbor.
Run time: 2 hrs. 10 mins./130 mins.
• Departures (2008)
Directed by Yôjirô Takita
Cast: Motoki Masahiro, Nakazawa Toshiaki, Watai Toshihisa
The winner of the 81st Academy Awards(r) Best Foreign Language Film and the Grand Prix at the 32nd Montreal World Film Festival. Focusing on the vocation of encoffineers, who assist in sending the deceased body off to final departure with dignity, Takita Yojiro of When the Last Sword Is Drawn delicately portrays the profession. Kobayashi Daigo (Motoki Masahiro) is a cellist, but when his orchestra is dissolved he returns to his hometown in Yamagata prefecture with Mika (Hirosue Ryoko), his web designer wife. He finds a classified ad for a company which provides assistance for “Departures” and goes for an interview. The company has just two people, a female clerk (Yo Kimiko) and the president (Yamazaki Tsutomu), and the business of the company turns out to be preparation of deceased bodies for funerals by wiping them clean and putting makeup on them. Nonetheless, Daigo joins the company as a trainee, attracted by a good salary, and gradually realizes the value of the job of an encoffinner…
Run time: 2 hrs. 10 mins./130 mins.
• Her Love Boils Bathwater (2016)
Directed by Ryôta Nakano
Cast: Rie Miyazawa, Hana Sugisaki, Tarô Suruga
A family drama about the intense feelings of a dying mother with a bombshell ending that breaks heart. It is written and directed by up-and-comer Nakano Ryota, who garnered attention with Capturing Dad. Futaba (Miyazawa Rie), whose husband suddenly left her one year ago, lives with her shy daughter, Azumi (Sugisaki Hana). When Futaba abruptly receives a diagnosis of a terminal illness, she aims to use the brief amount of time she has left to bring back her husband, restart the family’s shut-down bathhouse business, and set Azumi on the path to independence.
Run time: 2 hrs. 5 mins./125 mins.
• If Cats Disappeared from the World (2016)
Directed by Akira Nagai
Cast: Gaku Hamada, Mieko Harada, Aoi Miyazaki
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Film adaptation of a popular internet novel written by film producer Kawamura Genki, known as one of the producers of Your Name (Kimi no Nawa) and Confessions (Kokuhaku). Directed by Nagai Akira, known for his debut comedy movie “Judge!”. This movie tells the story of a postman (Satoh Takeru) who was dying from a brain tumor. A devil, disguised as his own double, appeared one day telling him that he has only one more day to live but he can extend his life by a day by making one thing disappear from the world and all the feelings and memories attached to that thing will also vanished. The postman agreed and every day, things disappeared one by one. However, the postman soon realizes that the thing that the devil takes each day are associated with people dear to him.
Run time: 1 hr. 43 mins/103 mins.
• In This Corner of the World (2016)
Directed by Sunao Katabuchi
Cast: Non, Megumi Han, Yoshimasa Hosoya
Genre: Animation, Drama, History
Mai Mai Miracle director, Katabuchi Sunao, adapts Kouno Fumiyo’s comic to an animated feature film. It depicts a young girl who married into a family in Hiroshima during the war resolutely living amid the escalating intensity of wartime destruction. In 1944, 18-year-old Suzu (voice: Non) goes to Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture, a major naval base for the Imperial Navy, to become the wife of naval officer, Hojo Shusaku (voice: Hosoya Yoshimasa). As the intensity of the war heightens day after day and food supplies dwindle, Suzu manages to somehow carry on with daily life through her ingenuity, that is, until the summer of 1945.
Run time: 2 hrs. 8 mins./128 mins.
• Memories of You (1988)
Directed by Shin’ichirô Sawai
Cast: Kumiko Goto, Tôru Nakamura, Tomomi Satô
Genre: Drama, Romance
On a street in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kamijo Akira (Nakajima Toru), a university student, happens to meet Hirose Yumi (Goto Kumiko). He had tutored her some years ago and is surprised that the once little girl has grown into a lovely fourteen-year-old high school student. Not long after, however, Tomoko, Yumi’s mother, is told by her doctor that Yumi has leukemia and has only six months to live.
Run time: 1 hr. 44 mins/104 mins.
• Poolside Man (2016)
Directed by Hirobumi Watanabe
Cast: Yukiko Hachisu, Misao Hirayama, Gaku Imamura
Drama about an incident precipitated by a swimming pool lifeguard, set in a small suburban town. Brothers Watanabe Hirobumi and Yuji, who have had two films selected for the Tokyo International Film Festival including And the Mud Ship Sails Away, expose the darkness of contemporary Japan. Swimming pool lifeguard Mizuhara Yusuke (Imamura Gaku) has no family, friends or girlfriend and spends his days in solitude. One day, he accompanies his colleague Shirasaki Koji (Watanabe Hirobumi) to a pool in a neighboring town, where there aren’t enough lifeguards because of an epidemic.
Run time: 1 hr. 57 mins./117 mins.
• Sadako vs. Kayako (2016)
Directed by Kôji Shiraishi
Cast: Yamamoto Mizuki, Tamashiro Tina, Satsukawa Aimi
“The Ring” series’ Sadako and the “Ju-on” series’ Kayako, two of J-horror’s biggest characters, square off in this cross-over film. Shiraishi Koji, known for his faux-documentary approach, orchestrates the film’s scream-inducing traditional scares. University student, Yuri (Yamamoto Mizuki), plays by chance a “cursed video” which brings death to whomever watches it. Meanwhile, high school student, Suzuka (Tamashiro Tina), enters the “cursed house” where people have gone missing.
Run time: 1 hr. 38 mins/98 mins.
• Sweet Bean (2015)
Directed by Naomi Kawase
Cast: Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase, Kyara Uchida
The film adaptation of the identically titled Dorian Sukegawa novel by previous Cannes Film Festival award recipient, Kawase Naomi. Kiki Kirin exudes a compelling presence as a coarse sweet red bean paste artisan, while her first co-starring role with her real-life grandchild, Uchida Kyara is also worthy of attention. Sentaro (Nagase Masatoshi), the manager of a shop selling dorayaki (a sandwich of two small pancakes with a filling of sweetened bean paste) has entrusted the making of the coarse red bean paste to Tokue (Kiki Kirin), who answered a help wanted advertisement. The incredibly delicious flavor boosts the store’s business, but an unkind rumor causes Tokue to go away.
Run time: 1 hr. 53 mins/113 mins.
• The Anthem of the Heart (2015)
Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai
Cast: Inori Minase, Koki Uchiyama, Sora Amamiya
Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy
Nagai Tat suyuki, Okada Mar i, and Tanaka Masayoshi (respectively, the director, writer, and character designer of the popular anime series “Anohana”) reunite for this original theatrical anime which delicately weaves a story about the rejuvenation of high school students bearing emotional scars. Second year high school student, Jun (voice: Minase Inori), uttered a remark that hurt her family and hasn’t been able to converse with anyone ever since. In spite of this, Jun is assigned to the action committee for the community relations society at school and made the star of a musical.
Run time: 1 hr. 59 mins./119 mins.
• The Long Excuse (2016)
Directed by Miwa Nishikawa
Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Pistol Takehara, Eri Fukatsu
Romance starring Motoki Masahiro from Departures with original story, script and direction from Nishikawa Miwa of SWAY. A bestselling author discovers the joys of living for others after his wife dies and he spends time with children who have lost their mother. Bestselling author Kinugasa Sachio’s (Motoki) wife dies in a freak accident. He was cheating on his wife at the time of the accident and has to put on a fake performance as bereaved husband. Sachio meets Omiya (Takehara Pistol), whose wife died in the same accident, and offers to help take care of his children.
Run time: 2 hrs. 4 mins./124 mins.
• The Magnificent Nine (2016)
Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
Cast: Abe Sadawo, Eita, Tsumabuki Satoshi
Genre: Comedy, History
A film adaptation of Isoda Michifumi’s original novel which is based on a true story from the middle Edo Period. It comically depicts the efforts of Yoshiokajuku, an inn town in Sendai fief, to save themselves from impoverishment by running a moneylending enterprise against the fiefdom. At the helm is The Inerasable director Nakamura Yoshihiro. On the verge of financial crisis, the Sendai fiefdom levies a heavy tax upon its inhabitants resulting in bankruptcies and people fleeing town in succession. A merchant of Yoshiokajuku, Kokudaya Juzaburo (Abe Sadawo), devises a relief plan to loan money to the fief with a partner and distribute the interest among the people.
Run time: 2 hrs. 9 mins./129 mins.
• The Mohican Comes Home (2016)
Directed by Shûichi Okita
Cast: Matsuda Ryuhei, Emoto Akira, Maeda Atsuko
A bittersweet family drama set on an island in the Seto Inland Sea. A mohawk-sporting young man’s homecoming after seven years is rocked by the pronouncement of his father’s remaining time to live. The film is written and directed by Okita Shuichi who has created a unique worldview in films such as The Chef of South Polar and A Story of Yonosuke among others. Eikichi (Matsuda Ryuhei), the vocalist for a little-known death metal band, has decided to marry his pregnant girlfriend, Yuka (Maeda Atsuko). He returns to his family home on Tobi Island after several years. However, his headstrong father, Osamu (Emoto Akira), collapses and is diagnosed with cancer.
Run time: 2 hrs. 5 mins./125 mins.
• The Sting of Death (1990)
Directed by Kôhei Oguri
Cast: Keiko Matsuzaka, Ittoku Kishibe, Midori Kiuchi
In 1944, a year before the end of the Pacific War, Toshio, the young commander of a navy unit, met the lovely Miho on the tiny tropical island of Kakeroma just north of Okinawa. They soon fell in love, although because he was on duty, he knew he would have to sacrifice his life for his country. Miho was determined to follow him in death. Fortunately, however, the war ended without them having to take that drastic step. Ten years and two children later finds them happily married – or so Miho thought. The disclosure that Toshio was engaged in a secret love affair shattered their daily life.
Run time: 1 hr. 55 mins./ 115 mins.
• Tsukiji Wonderland (2016)
Directed by Naotarô Endô
A documentary filmed over 16 months closely chronicling, including areas never before filmed, the Tsukiji Market which is due to be moved to Toyosu. Endo Naotaro, who has been involved in wide ranging works from advertisements to music videos, makes his theatrical film directing debut. The Tsujiki Market has continually sustained Japanese food culture for over 80 years. There, intermediate wholesalers and chefs play out a duel among professionals, and each season’s fish mesmerize even tourists from around the world.
Run time: 1 hr. 51 mins./111 mins.
• What a Wonderful Family! (2016)
Directed by Yôji Yamada
Cast: Hiroshi Fukusawa, Isao Hashizume, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Yu Aoi
A heartwarming comedy from director Yamada Yoji, known for his “It’s Tough Being a Man” (Otoko wa Tsuraiyo) series, which reassembles the cast of his Tokyo Family. Hashizume Isao, Yoshiyuki Kazuko, and Tsumabuki Satoshi portray an entirely different family in a story about elderly parents considering divorce which sends their whole family into a panic. In his fiftieth year of marriage to Tomiko (Yoshiyuki), Shuzo (Hashizume) decides to buy her a birthday present for a change. However, she tells him she wants his seal on an application for divorce. Their children swiftly convene a family meeting.
Run time: 1 hr. 48 mins./ 108 mins.
CCP Dream Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City (July 1 and August 5, 10 and 11), Shang Cineplex Cinema, Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City (July 6-16), UP Film Institute, UP-Diliman, Quezon City (August 16-19), Abreeza Mall Cinema, Ayala, Davao City (July 21-23), FDCP Cinematheque-Davao, Davao City (July 26-30), Ayala Center Cebu Cinema, Cebu City (August 2-6), SM City Baguio Cinema, Baguio City (August 10-13), SM City Bacolod Cinema, Bacolod City (August 24-27), and FDCP Cinematheque-Iloilo, Iloilo City (August 25-29).
Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis, except the screenings at Shang Cineplex Cinema which will be PHP 100 per one film screening.
Starting from Saturday, July 1, in honor of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month, to August 29, 2017 with 20 films of various genres selected for more than 100 screenings across six major cities nationwide, JFF | EIGASAI’s 20th anniversary edition is set to be the biggest and best yet. We expect to see you there!