Films From Japan

MIFF has brought together the amazing and imaginative works by Image Forum, Japan. Exclusive to MIFF, these short films are at the epicentre of experimental filmmaking in a range of styles. [The Trains] (Hirata Takahiro, 8 mins) is a rhythmic rendition of [Kaerunoouta] (Frog song), created by the passing of trains. [Grainy Days] (Oki Chieko, 19 mins) is the story of a young girl working in a soybe... Read more
A radical biopic on the life and death of a Japanese icon from veteran provocateur Koji Wakamatsu. ... On 25 November 1970 one of Japan's most celebrated writers, Yukio Mishima, committed ritual suicide after staging a failed right-wing coup with his private militia that had attempted to reinstate the Emperor as a deity.Director Wakamatsu (Caterpillar, MIFF 10; United Red Army, MIFF 08) attempts t... Read more
"[Director] Takashi Miike is in top, slashtastic form." - Variety ... Kinetic Japanese director Takashi Miike (Audition, MIFF 2000, Sukiyaki Western Django, MIFF 2007) returns with an homage to his legendary compatriot Akira Kurosawa. ... In 19th century Japan, a time of peace is threatened by the rise of a sadistic, murderous young lord. Brother to the Shogun, the lord is politically protected - ... Read more
It is most unusual for a Japanese director to be "discovered" from his first feature film. In general it seems that a director attracts attention only after several films, and henceforth sends the archivists scuttling back to earlier unknown work A break with this tradition has occurred with A 19-Year-Old's Plan directed by Mitsuo Yanagimachi. ... Yanagimachi was born in 1 945 and on graduating he... Read more
A key work of post-war Japanese cinema, A Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji broke with conventions of the samurai film through its strong critique of warrior 'ethics'. Witty and generally light-hearted (although with a surprisingly dark finale), A Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji could also be characterised as a road movie. Young samurai Kojuro makes the long journey to Edo, accompanied by his spear-carrier, G... Read more
Yoichi Higashi is a new name from Japan and his first feature to reach the West is a strong drama that signals him as a director to watch. ... Third Base is made from a script by Shuji Terayama, the "enfant terrible" of Japanese art, film and theatre. It concerns Shinji Seno who is sent to a youth remand centre. We gradually learn of the events of his life that led to him being there, while his li... Read more
An American soldier is found drowned in Tokyo Bay. A year later, while the authorities are still investigating, the U.S. Army suddenly declares the case closed. There have been several other deaths which seem to be connected with the case and these, in turn, appear to be connected with the counter­feiting of U.S. currency. The authorities continue their investigations, but the case becomes more an... Read more
In the vast, sparsely populated area of central Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, there is a small town where a young widow. Tamiko Kazami. is desperately trying to make a living by running a small dairy farm with only her small son to help her. ... Her life begins to change when a man suddenly appears at her door on a stormy night, asking for a place to stay. She lets him sleep in the b... Read more
The Yamazawas. a small peasant family, live in an area of Kashima where the rural landscape has been destroyed through the building of industrial plants. ... The eldest son, Yukio, supports his family by working as a lorry-driver. He is a violent, ambitious and hardworking man. Then his two sons, of whom he was very fond, drown. Yukio loses his sense of purpose, starts drinking, goes berserk and e... Read more
From anime master Hiroyuki Okiura (director of Jin-Roh, MIFF 00, animator for Ghost in the Shell, Akira) comes a touching, fantastical tale of a young girl's grief and the three mischievous spirits sent to look after her. ... After the death of her father, 13-year-old Momo and her mother move from Tokyo to the remote island of Shio. Here, Momo is haunted by the discovery of an unfinished letter he... Read more
“A highly original blend of documentary and fiction techniques (and a worthy precursor to Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf's later experiments).” - Senses of Cinema Making his first venture into documentary, Shohei Imamura breaks ground with this Japanese social phenomenon where people vanish into anonymity, never to be seen again. An interviewer attempts to draw conclusions about the disappearance of a ... Read more
An animated fable about a poor old woman who was spinning wool, but got so tired that she turned into yarn herself, and was wound onto a spool. . . She was knitted into a jacket, and then a very cold winter came . . ... Read more
... ... The expectations set by Takeshi's previous two films were purposefully undone when he moved past American action films and com­pletely wrote out of the script his own distinc­tive persona. The result of his new-found independence is both surprising and consis­tent, and an unmistakable vindication of his versatility and command as a director. ... ... ... The story here concerns the teenager... Read more
Fans of Takeshi's two films prior to this (Violent Cop and Boiling Point) must have had their expectations confounded! After his relentless explorations of renegade cops and pitiless Yakuza, to come up with a Japanese surfing romance?! A Scene at the Sea is such a delight that it seems uncomplimentary to describe it as sweet, gentle and melancholy. It is all these things, in the extreme, but forge... Read more
Out of the fifty-odd films of the great Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu, about twenty are lost to us today. Throughout his career, Ozu repeated certain plots and dramatic situations many times; A Story of Floating Weeds, one of his favourites, was remade 25 years later as Floating Weeds. ... An ageing actor returns with his troupe to a remote island town to visit his mistress and their son, who is... Read more
Five-year-old Yuka disappears without a trace from a resort cottage in idyllic Hokkaido. Her mother, Kasumi, is distraught and won't let go of the idea that her daughter is somewhere, alive. For five years she returns to Hokkaido, hoping to find a clue. Her quest is shadowed by a detective, Utsumi, who has his own reasons for wanting to be involved. ... A Tender Place's approach is in the vein of ... Read more
A new animated feature by Nakamura Takashi, chief animation director of Japanime classic Akira (1988). At the base of a huge tree, Fow, an ancient botanist, lives in a hut with a malfunctioning wooden robot named Palme. A wounded warrior arrives at the secluded outpost just ahead of her marauding pursuers, she passes a capsule to Palme and makes him vow to deliver it to Tamas, a world deep undergr... Read more
A Week with Kiarostami is the perfect companion piece to Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us (showing in MIFF this year), as it documents the making of that award-winning film. ... "A team led by the Japanese director Yuji Mohara travelled to Iran to film a portrait of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. Mohara meets Kiarostami in a village, on the set of Kiarostami's film The Wind Will Carr... Read more
An exhilarating courtroom adventure from cult director Takashi Miike. ... This big-budget film reflects the lighter side of the versatile Miike, whose recent films have run the gamut from samurai epic 13 Assassins (MIFF 11) to spaghetti western homage Sukiyaki Western Django (MIFF 07), via anime-inspired comedy Yatterman and family-friendly Ninja Kids!!!. ... Based on the hugely popular Nintendo s... Read more
Adachi-Ga Hara continues the afore-mentioned 'mutative approach' to story-telllng. This time, the original manga is based on a traditional Non play called Kurozuka which mines tho rich vein of Japanese witch mythology. Tezuka sets Adachi on a desolate asteroid and plays out the involving confrontation between a young space cadet and the hermit crone, leading the story to a suspenseful and sombre e... Read more
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