Been busy, busy, busy recently, which is why I’ve been so remiss about posting up details about this year’s Shinsedai New Generation Japanese Film Festival, which I’ve curated with Chris Magee of the Toronto J-Film Pow-wow. For full details of the programme, let me first of all direct you to the new Shinsedai homepage, which for this year has moved URL to http://shinsedai-toronto.com/.
Neil Cantwell and Tim Grabham's remarkable new documentary Kanzeon
There’s another great line-up at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre this July, high points of which include Catcher On the Shore, the directorial debut of 14-year-old Okinawan boy, Ryugo Nakamura (yes, you did read that correctly: 14-year-old!!!), a rare screening of Torajiro Saito’s 1935 Shochiku Kamada comedy Kid’s Commotion starring “the Japanese Charlie Chaplin” Shigeru Ogura and presented with a live Foley sound effects accompaniment and demonstration by Goto Koyama (this is going to be amazing!), and the world premiere of Kanzeon, a stunning new British documentary about Buddhism and music (actually it’s about a whole lot more than that, but it’s sort of difficult to explain – check out the official website). Oh yes, and there’s some other old favourites we screened in London as part of last year’s Zipangu Fest, including the CALF animation programme and Mean-eater Mountain.
Catcher on the Shore, by 14-year-old filmmaking prodigy Ryugo Nakamura
We’re also closing the festival with Yuya Ishii’s Sawako Decides, one of the titles that did the rounds of the UK as part of the Japan Foundation UK’s touring programme earlier this year. If you didn’t catch it in Britain, or if you want to see it again, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s been picked up for distribution byThird Window Films, and will be out in theatres from 8 July, with a DVD to follow. Anyway, I’m not going to go into too much detail about the programme here, other than to cut and paste some of the highlights from Chris’ page, but suffice it to say, its another goodie for Torontonians, so if you’re in the city at the end of July, don’t miss…
I unfortunately won’t be at Shinsedai this year due to scheduling conflicts with another very special film event that is occurring on the other side of the world (well, almost…) in Poland, which I’ll do my utmost to shed some light on before the week is out.
In the meantime, here’s the lowdown on this year’s Shinsedai:
OPENING NIGHT FILM: Hospitalité (dir. Koji Fukuda, 2010)
A sly, humorous and insightful satire of contemporary a Japanese family and the secrets they keep from each other that begins as an homage to the classic domestic dramas of Yasujiro Ozu, but ends up in the comic territory of Tampopo director Juzo Itami.
Sly satire from Koji Fukuda, Hospitalité
HORROR FEATURE: Shirome (dir. Koji Shiraishi, 2010)
Koji Shiraishi, director of “Occult” and the controversial “Grotesque”, revitalizes the J-Horror genre with a mockumentary that combines the low-budget scares of The Blair Witch Project and American Idol instant stardom into an entirely unique and chilling experience.
Blair Witch Project meets The X-Factor, in Koji Shiraishi's Shirome
CENTERPIECE SCREENING: Wandering Home (dir. Yoichi Higashi, 2010)
Tadanobu Asano gives a career defining performance as real-life photojournalist Yutaka Kamoshida as he struggles to overcome alcoholism. Far from being a journey into the underbelly of addiction “Wandering Home” is a life-affirming drama filled with love, gentle humour and reconciliation.
Tadanobu Asano stars in Wandering Home
FAMILY FEATURE: Azemichi Road (dir. Fumie Nishikawa, 2009)
“Azemichi Road” takes the classic underdog genre and gives it new life. Yuki, a young deaf girl, takes a journey from silence to acceptance through her involvement in an amateur dance troupe. Film-maker Fumie Nishikawa sets her feel-good kids film in the gorgeous landscapes of Japan’s countryside.
Fun for all the family, Azemichi Road
SILENT CLASSIC: Kid Commotion (dir. Torajiro Saito, 1935)
The Shinsedai Cinema Festival is very proud to present a special screening of Torajiro Saito’s “Kid Commotion”, starring Japan’s answer to Charlie Chaplin Shigeru Ogura as a harried father, with the accompaniment of live sound effects provided by foley artist Goro Koyama. Audiences will not only have a chance to see a very rare and very funny silent film, but will have the opportunity to learn about the art of movie sound effects.
Vintage Japanese slapstick, Kid's Commotion, presented with a very unusual accompaniment!
CLOSING NIGHT FILM: Sawako Decides (dir. Yuya Ishii, 2010)
Director Yuya Ishii’s return to the Shinsedai Cinema Festival, “Sawako Decides” is the hilarious story of a young woman (actress Hikari Mistushima) who returns to her home town to care for her ailing father and to straighten out her life after a series of low-paying jobs and less than ideal boyfriends.
Soon to go on theatrical release in the UK, Sawako Decides is Shinsedai's Closing Night Screening