Now in its seventh year, the Toronto Japanese Film Festival showcases the finest Japanese films that have been recognized for excellence by Japanese audiences and critics, international film festival audiences and the Japanese Film Academy. Programming addresses popular genres such as historical (samurai) jidaigeki, contemporary dramas, comedies and action, literary adaptations, children’s, art-house and anime films. All films shown are North American, Canadian, or Toronto premieres.
The Toronto Japanese Film Festival’s mandate has been carefully aligned with that of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. In the 55 years since the opening of the JCCC, film has been an important tool in creating friendship, understanding, and exchange between the Japanese and broader Canadian communities. Ticket sales from the festival also help to drive our heritage programming which shares the important lessons of cultural acceptance and human rights, implicit in the Japanese Canadian experience with all Canadians.
The festival continues to attract large crowds representing a broad demographic and generates much positive reaction with exit surveys consistently indicating that audiences genuinely enjoy and feel challenged by the films. With lectures, receptions, gallery exhibitions, and performances that were part of the two-week festival, our visitors numbered in the tens of thousands.
Thank you to the Toronto Japanese Film Festival for gifting my readers with pairs of tickets to the following screenings! Tell me which one of the film you are interested and why for a chance to win tickets!
TREMBLE ALL YOU WANT
Runtime: 117 min / 2017
Director: Akiko Ohku
Starring: Mayu Matsuoka, Daichi Watanabe, Anna Ishibashi, Takumi Kitamura
“Matsuoka succeeds brilliantly. On camera in nearly every scene,
she brings Yoshika to life with originality, charm and never a false note.” – Japan Times
Based on Risa Wataya’s best-selling novel and winner of the Tokyo international Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award, Akiko Ohku’s film is a tender and very funny study of romantic obsession and social isolation. Yoshika is a social awkward 24-year-old obsessed with fossils and a boy from her middle school days. When an earnest co-worker confesses his feelings for her she struggles to set her obsessions aside. Mayu Matusoka’s hilarious and heartfelt central performance, a witty script and breakneck pacing make it one of 2017’s best films
Official Website and Trailer (In Japanese): furuetero-movie.com
Runtime: 128 min / 2018
Director: Norihiro Koizumi
Starring: Suzu Hirose, Shuhei Nomura, Mackenyu Arata, Mone Kamishiraishi, Mayu Matsuoka
North American Premiere
The third installment in the hit Chihayafuru trilogy takes place two years after the showdown between Chihaya and Shinobu at the National Karuta Competion. Chihaya is now a high school senior and, together with her friends Taichi and Arata, enters the Master/Queen Competition to face yet another battle against Shinobu. In the meanwhile, Chihaya learns their master Hideo Harada has been humiliated in defeat by Suo, the most skilled Karuta player in history. The friends decide to challenge Suo to a revenge match…
A fast-paced, exciting film filled with friendship, determination and beautiful kimono.
Official Website and Trailer (in Japanese): chihayafuru-movie.com
Runtime: 126 min / 2018
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
Starring: Ryo Nishikido, Ryuhei Matsuda, Fumino Kimura, Mikako Ichikawa, Kazuki Kitamura, Min Tanaka, Shingo Mizusawa
North American Premiere
Suffering from population decline, the small seaside town decides to welcome six strangers into the community. A malevolent fishing boat operator, a sexy caregiver, a frightening launderer, a timid barber, a methodical cleaning woman, and a simple-minded deliveryman are all brought together by this mysterious government-sponsored program. Only Tsukisue, the young city official, is privy to their secret: they are participants in a covert project set up to re-socialize paroled murderers. Tensions are already high and when a murder victim surfaces – upsetting both the townspeople and the local ancestral spirit – everything begins to unravel. A whimsical mix of dark humour, suspense, romance and drama along with adrenaline-driven moments culminating in a thrilling climax.
Official Website and Trailer (in Japanese): hitsujinoki-movie.com
A BEAUTIFUL STAR
Runtime: 127 min / 2017
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
Starring: Lily Franky, Kazuya Kamenashi, Ai Hashimoto
A dark and surreal comedy based loosely on a 1962 novel by Yukio Mishima.
A placid TV weather forecaster Osugi is overwhelmed by a strange solar phenomenon and wakes up hours later believing he is an emissary from the League of Solar Planets. His weather broadcasts soon turn into apocalyptic rants that prophesize the impending doom that is climate change. Before long, each family member takes their own conflicting positions on the fate of planet Earth—until a human tragedy pulls them together.
Director Yoshida (Pale Moon, The Kirishima Thing) creates a surreal but relatable narrative combining themes of delusion and desire, set against a backdrop of climate change and sinister politics. A thoughtful and unforgettable film.
Official Website and Trailer (In Japanese): gaga.ne.jp/hoshi
Runtime: 149 min / 2017
Director: Masato Harada
Starring: Junichi Okada, Koji Yakusho, Kasumi Arimura, Takehiro Hira, Masahiro Higashide
Masato Harada (Kakekomi, The Emperor in August) returns with this samurai battle epic based on Ryotaro Shiba’s literary account.
The very name Sekigahara is evocative for anyone who knows anything about Japanese history. It is the site of Japan’s most famous — and most decisive — battle, a watershed event that saw the advent of 250 years of peace and stability. On October 21, 1600, the famous Battle of Sekigahara took place between the Western Army, led by Mitsunari Ishida and the Eastern Army, led Ieyasu Tokugawa. Its outcome would end the Warring States Period (Sengoku Jidai) and determine a ruler for the new era.
A major critical and box-office hit with spectacular battles, byzantine plotting and a cast featuring many of Japanese top actors. Nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor.
Official Website and Trailer (in Japanese): sekigahara-movie.com
Runtime: 104 min / 1953
Director: Hideo Sekigawa
Starring: Eiji Okada, Yumeji Tsukioka, Takashi Kanda, Isuzu Yamada
Based on Children of the Atom Bomb, a book of testimonies by children who experienced the bombing of Hiroshima, this harrowing drama details the destruction and suffering left in the wake of the A-bomb for a group of students, teachers and their families. A direct indictment against nuclear war and the mistreatment of Hiroshima’s stigmatized survivors, this independently produced and distributed film was funded by the Japan Teachers Union in an effort to “preserve peace” and utilized tens of thousands of Hiroshima citizens as extras, including many survivors. Recently rediscovered after decades of obscurity, Hiroshima is a major work of anti-war cinema and a chilling reminder of the consequences of nuclear warfare.
SPECIAL GUEST: SETSUKO THURLOW
Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima survivor and recipient the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize 2017 on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will introduce the film and take audience questions following.
Check out the screening dates and the guests that will be in attendance:
Saturday, June 9
Daihachi Yoshida, Director – Scythian Lamb
Sunday, June 10
Daihachi Yoshida, Director – A Beautiful Star
Tuesday, June 12
Mayu Matsuoka, Lead Actor – Tremble All You Want
Wednesday, June 13
Mayu Matsuoka, Lead Actor – Chihayafuru Part 3
Saturday, June 16
Masato Harada, Director – Sekigahara
Sunday, June 17
Setsuko Thurlow, co-recipient 2017 Nobel Peace Prize (Hiroshima screening)
What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Japanese Film Festival Ticket Giveaway?
Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (email@example.com) telling me what you are excited to see at Toronto Japanese Film Festival and why by June 5, 2018.