The Japanese Film Festival is back for another year and brings with it the best that Japan has to offer, along with some classic films that form part of Japan’s rich cinema history.
The schedule this year presents a broad range of styles and genres ranging from big budget action films to small budget affairs that hold a mirror to modern life in Japan. The selection aims to cater to a wide taste in films and does a pretty great job at succeeding, especially considering how some of the films in this year’s lineup have been fast tracked from Japanese cinemas to Australian ones.
More than 50 films, with more to be announced, will make their way to Hoyts Melbourne Central and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image between November 27 to December 7.
To help you sort out what to catch, we’ve taken a look at what’s on offer and chosen a selection to help you decide.
Opening the festival is the Australian Premiere of Lady Maiko, a musical comedy directed by Masayuki Suo (Shall We Dance?) and based loosely on the Audrey Hepburn classic, My Fair Lady.
Haruko has always wanted to be a geisha and approaches a teahouse in one of Kyoto’s famous geisha districts to become an apprentice geisha, or maiko, only to be rejected due to her lack of references, dialect and uncultivated demeanor. Her accent catches the interest of Professor Kyono, a linguistics specialist and regular at the teahouse who strikes a deal with the teahouse owner, promising to transform Haruko’s strong dialect into ladylike speech within 6 months.
The Vancouver Asahi
The festival will close with director Yuya Ishii’s latest, The Vancouver Asahi. Ishii is no stranger to the festival with his award-winning The Great Passage opening last year’s festival .
The Vancouver Asahi is set in pre-WWII when Japanese immigrants were migrating to Canada. The film is based on the true story of the Japanese-Canadian baseball team of the same name who overcame racial discrimination and found that in baseball and in life it’s not about winning, but how well you play the game.
Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy
Catch the epic Kenshin trilogy directed by Keishi Otomo, a live action adaptation of the hugely popular samurai manga series Rurouni Kenshin written by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Rurouni Kenshin, Rurouni Kenshin – Tokyo Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin – The Legend Ends will all showing at the festival.
Rurouni Kenshin tells the story of Himura Kenshin, a renowned killer who walks away from Japan’s fighting in the 1860’s. The warrior is forced to draw his sword once more when he is faced against those who wish to return Japan to times of darkness.