Japan bring 12 of its best movies to Thailand for the latest edition of its annual film festival
The Japan Foundation, Bangkok and SF Cinema are marking the 132nd anniversary of Thai-Japan diplomatic relations and welcoming the Year of the Pig with the Japanese Film Festival 2019.
The festival, which gets underway in Bangkok today and continues through February 3, is being held at SF World Cinema CentralWorld before travelling north to Chiang Mai then south to Phuket.
A total of 12 films have been selected for this 42nd festival, all of them reflecting Japanese art, culture and ways of life so as to offer a true cultural exchange between the two countries.
The Crimes That Bind
Opening the event is “The Crimes That Bind,” a 2018 thriller directed by Katsuo Fukuzawa and starring veteran actor Hiroshi Abe. It tells the story of a mysterious murder. A woman named Michiko Oshitani from Shiga prefecture, was found dead strangled in an apartment in Tokyo. Matsuo Koshikawa, the owner of the apartment also disappears without trace.
Hiromi Asai’s name appears in the investigation due to her relations with Oshitani but she has a strong alibi and therefore the investigation cannot continue further. When a note is found at the crime scene on which the names of 12 bridges surrounding the Nihonbashi area have been written, detective Kyoichiro Kaga (Abe) is filled with unease as flashes back to the sudden disappearance of his own mother.
In the romantic dramedy “Chihayafuru”, childhood friends Chihaya, Taichi and Arata are childhood friends, bound by their passion for competitive karuta (traditional Japanese playing cards.) They part ways after graduating from elementary school, but reunite in the secondary school by forming the “Karuta Club” to compete and win at the national Karuta competition. The first and second parts of the film, which were screened in 2016, are being relaunched with the newly released “Chihayafuru Part 3” and will show as a trilogy this Saturday accompanied by a pre-talk and a post-talk by director Nori Koizumi.
“Laughing Under the Clouds” is part action, part horror and set at the end of the Samurai era (Edo) when the new Meiji government is founded in Japan. This historical transition between the samurai era and the modern era is a period of upheaval. In addition, a legend says that every 300 years the “Orochi” (gigantic snake) resurrects in order to destroy Japan. This gigantic snake is hidden in one family through generations before taking over one human body when coming back to life. Through this human form, the Orochi’s power will be unstoppable.
Mirai no Mirai
Animation “Mirai no Mirai”, which has been nominated for several awards and was well received by Thai audiences last year, tells the story of Kun, a spoilt 4yearold boy, who meets his new born sister. Kun misses his parents’ affection and is baffled by things he has never experienced before. Then he meets Mirai, his little sister, who travels back in time from the future.
“Shashin Koshien Summer in 0.5 Seconds” focuses on 18 high schools competing for top honours in Shashin Koshien, a national photography contest. Set in the expansive wilderness of Hokkaido, competitors fight to capture the beauty of Japan and the human spirit. Inspired by true events, it is directed by Hiroshi Sugawara who will lead a discussion after the screening on Sunday.
The Scythian Lamb
Thriller “The Scythian Lamb” centres on six strangers who arrive in Uobuka, a small shabby harbour town. Tsukisue is the unflappable, nonchalant city official who is assigned to be in charge of “acclimatising” the six, who are part of a secret government programme to release convicted felons back into society. Their pasts have not been revealed to Tsukisue or the townspeople. The six try to blend in with the town while carrying the burden of their sins. The discovery of a body in the harbour brings Tsukisue, his high-school classmate, Aya, and the people of this small town to intersect in an emotional climax.
Other highlights include the comedy “Mixed Doubles” about love around a table tennis competition, director Masaaki Yuasa’s animation “Lu over the Wall” and “Life is Fruity”, a touching documentary about a Japanese architect and his wife.
Lu over the Wall
All of the films will be screened with Thai and English subtitles and tickets cost Bt120.
The festival travels to SFX Cinema at the Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre in Chiang Mai from February 8 to 10 then to SFX Cinema at Central Festival from February 22 to24. Tickets for the upcountry screenings are Bt80.
The complete schedule is available at www.SFCinemaCity.com.