SciFi Japan

    Japanese Film Festival in Australia this November

    Twenty-one Films, Six Cities Source: Japan Foundation, Sydney Official Site: Special Thanks to Evon Fung

    The 13th annual Japanese Film Festival begins November 24 in Sydney, Australia. © 2009 The Japan Foundation, Sydney

    This year, the 13th annual Japanese Film Festival will be delivering another fantastic line-up of Japanese cinema to fans in Australia. The event begins November 24th at Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney, and December 3rd at ACMI Cinemas, Melbourne, and will include screenings in six major cities. The following text is courtesy of the Japan Foundation, Sydney...

    The Japanese Film Festival Returns

    The annual Japanese Film Festival (JFF) is full speed ahead for another exciting year of the latest Japanese cinema. On November 24, the Festival hits Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney for one short week before it heads to Melbourne on December 3 at ACMI Cinemas, Federation Square for another flurry of film festivity. 2008 ended with the Yojiro Takita’s Oscar-winning DEPARTURES, a sold-out success pre-Oscar win. 2009 promises 21 stellar titles that were well-received in Japan, hand-picked, delivering a panoramic feast of cultural diversity.

    Opening and Closing Films

    Special guests to the festival this year are Shuichi Okita, director of the mouth-watering culinary sensation THE CHEF OF THE SOUTH POLE (Omoshiro Nankyoku Ryurinin, 2009) and Jun Nishimura, author of the original novel, based on his personal experience during Japan’s 38th Antarctic Exploration in 1997. Released in Japan earlier this year, THE CHEF OF THE SOUTH POLE is a light-hearted comedy centered on the lives of eight men positioned in an Antarctic base. Take a glimpse into the curious lives of these young men, in particular Chef Nishimura (Masato Sakai, AFTER SCHOOL), with recipes that will whet many appetites with his delicious cuisines. Unbelievable but true, its fine dining in the Arctic. Both Okita and Nishimura will be available post-screening for comment and discussion with the audience. THE CHEF OF THE SOUTH POLE will be the closing film in Sydney on the 1st of December, and the opening film in Melbourne on December 3. Opening the festival in Sydney (and closing in Melbourne), is the adorable comedy, THE HANDSOME SUIT (Hansamu Sutsu, 2008). Life is dull and boring for the awkward and ugly Takuro Ohki but when he dons the ‘handsome suit’, he is immediately transformed into attractive male model Hikariyama. Featuring glamorous runway scenes, shot on location at the Tokyo Girls Collection 2008 Autumn/ Winter show (one of Japan’s biggest fashion labels), this Cinderella-like story is a feel-good comedy for all.

    Other Highlights

    Featuring an eclectic mix of genres, here’s a quick snapshot of what’s in store: Action Fresh from Japan is the big budget blockbuster (US $18 million) KAMUI (Kamui Gaiden, 2009), a ninja action flick boasting an all-star cast starring Kenichi Matsuyama (DEATH NOTE, DETROIT METAL CITY), Koyuki (THE LAST SAMURAI, ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET, BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE) and Hideaki Ito (SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO , 252: SIGNAL OF LIFE).

    K-20: LEGEND OF THE MASK (K-20: Kaijin Nijumenso Den, 2008)– Heart-throb Takeshi Kaneshiro (RED CLIFF, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) stars as an accidental caped crusader in the delightful in retro-futuristic fantasy action adventure about a rivalry between a detective and the phantom thief, "the Fiend with 20 Faces", otherwise known as K-20. Australian fashion designers Tina Kalivas and Vaughan Alexander team up to produce the costume design for the period epic, GOEMON (2009). Following ninja-bandit hero Ishikawa Goemon in a Japanese Robin Hood-like plot, Goemon is packed with spectacular CGI and live-action sequences. GOEMON will be screening in Sydney only. Mystery/Crime GRAVITY`S CLOWNS (Jyuryoku Pierrot, 2009)– a haunting mystery about a Japanese family where a current series of graffiti and arson events paves the way to unraveling an unexpected family truth. GRAVITY`S CLOWNS is based on the best-selling novel, A Pierrot, by Kotaro Isaka (The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God).

    THE KISS (Seppun, 2008)– a tense thriller following Kyoko (Eiko Koike), a lonely woman who falls in love with a convicted murderer sentenced to death after seeing him only on the TV. It was his enigmatic smile that captured her… A bizarre romance with a strange twist. Also starring Etsushi Toyokawa (THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, 20TH CENTURY BOYS). Comedy DETROIT METAL CITY (2008)– a folk singer (Kenichi Matsuyama) leads a double life after a successful appearance on stage as a heavy metal lead singer, eventually battling it out with Gene Simmons from KISS. KAMOGAWA HORUMO- BATTLE LEAGUE IN TOKYO (aka BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO, 2009)– Mythical computer-generated creatures are summoned in a secret society, university-league supernatural skirmish set in Kyoto. OPPAI VOLLEYBALL (Oppai Bare, 2009)– A hilarious coming-of-age story based on a true story; oppai in Japanese means ‘boobs’. A lazy high-school volleyball team becomes motivated after their beautiful new coach offers an irresistible wager: revealing her boobs if they win. Starring Haruka Ayase (CYBORG SHE, ICHI).

    Drama ALL AROUND US (Gururi no Koto, 2008) is an acclaimed, multi-award winning, tender exploration of Shoko and Kanao’s marriage, revealing the realities and fragility of their relationship. Shoko takes us along for a painful journey into the world of depression while Kanao, the supportive husband, struggles to maintain their devotion to one another. An honest, touching story of hope and the need for human connection. YUNAGI CITY, SAKURA COUNTRY (Yunagi no Machi Sakura no Kuni, 2007)- reveals the effects of war on generations past and present. In 1958, thirteen years after the bombing of Hiroshima: a survivor named Minami is happy and in love. Yet this all ends the day her unfortunate past returns to haunt her physically and emotionally. In present day Tokyo: Nanami is curious about her father’s yearly ritual of returning to Hiroshima. Interested, she decides to accompany him and discovers that the cloud still looms over her family 60 years on.

    PANDEMIC (Kanesen Rettou, 2009)- High fever, convulsions, vomiting of blood, multiple organ failures... these strange symptoms come to the attention of Dr Matsuoka when his patient dies after a misdiagnosis. The mysterious flu-like virus begins to spread rapidly across Japan. It is now a race against time to find the cause. THE CHERRY TREE IN THE HILLS (Yamazakura, 2008)– a period samurai piece from Shuhei Fujisawa, author of the renowned samurai trilogy of HIDDEN BLADE, LOVE AND HONOR, and the Oscar-nominated THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI. Family SCHOOL DAYS WITH A PIG (Buta ga Ita Kyoshitsu, 2008)- Controversial semi-documentary told from a child’s perspective offering an ethical message on animal cruelty. P-chan is a pet pig, raised by a classroom of year six students. But at the end of the year, P-chan is destined for food consumption. THE BLUE BIRD (Aoi Tori, 2008)- A stuttering teacher enters in the aftermath of a student’s suicide attempt. With his unconventional teaching methods, Mr Murauchi is one teacher with an important lesson for all on school bullying.

    PENGUINS IN THE SKY: ASAHIYAMA ZOO (Asahiyama Dobutsuen Monogatari, 2009)- Based on a true story. A passionate zoo keeper gives his all to save Japan’s Asahiyama Zoo, from bankruptcy and turns it into thriving attraction for more than 3 million visitors worldwide every year. SUMMER DAYS WITH COO (Kappa no Ku to Natsu Yasumi, 2007)- It is summer, and fourth grade student Koichi stumbles across a dormant kappa (a Japanese mythical water creature) on his way home from school. He names his new friend ‘Coo’. Despite the warm hospitality from Koichi’s family, Coo finds it difficult to adjust to the Tokyo lifestyle, especially when the media discover his existence. Koichi decides to help Coo by reuniting him with his family, and the two set off on a journey of bonding they will never forget. Heart-warming animation SUMMER DAYS WITH COO is screening for a special summer price of $7.00 to schools and the general public for this session only. Japanese language task sheets will be available for teachers and general learners to download and use, available from the festival website. Sydney Free Screenings Enjoy a selection of short films at the Australia-Japan Student Film Forum (AFSFF) on Monday 30 November, featuring the incredible works of Australian and Japanese students, a promising generation of emerging filmmakers. All works shown at the forum will be in the running for some generous prizes including an invitation for the winning film to be screened at the Kawasaki ShinYuri Film Festival in Japan next year. THE HAPPY FAMILY PLAN (Shiawase Kazoku Keikaku, 1999)- is a movie adaptation of the popular quirky TV game show series of the same name. This is a special free screening celebrating the anticipated release of THE HAPPY FAMILY PLAN LANGUAGE RESOURCE KIT, a two-disc DVD set that enables viewers to learn Japanese through film. Thursday 26 November, 2:00pm & Friday 27 November, 2:00pm Japan Foundation Multipurpose Room Level 1, Chifley Plaza, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney

    13th Japanese Film Festival

    Tickets on sale from 2 November (Sydney) and 9 November (Melbourne) Adult $14 | Concession $12 | 5-film Pass $55 (excluding opening and closing film)

    Sydney 24 November – 1 December 2009 Event Cinemas, George Street Melbournee 3 – 8 December 2009 ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image Other touring cities (with selected films only) begin: Brisbane 28 – 30 October 2009 Regent Cinema, Queen Street Mall Hobart (new!) 8 – 10 November 2009 Village Cinema, Collins Street Canberra 18, 19, 21, 22 November 2009 National Film and Sound Archives

    About The Japan Foundation, Sydney

    The Japan Foundation aims to promote cultural exchange between Japan and other nations. The Foundation organizes a diverse range of cultural activities introducing art, culture and society, and coordinate various programs supporting Japanese language education overseas. The Japan Foundation was established in 1972, and has had an Australian office since 1977. They currently have 23 offices in 19 countries.

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