Shortly before Christmas, the Japan Foundation announced the line-up for its annual Touring Film Programme. It looks like a very strong line-up indeed! I’ve covered the Touring Film Programme on this blog before but, for those of you who aren’t familiar, it brings a mix of both modern and more traditional Japanese films to cinemas across the UK from February to the end of March. It’s an essential calendar date for fans of cinema or Japanese culture.
This year the tour is coming to: London, Bristol, Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, Exeter, Derby, Birmingham, Inverness, Stirling, Dundee, Kendal, Nottingham and Edinburgh. Check out the screening dates for your local area on the Japan Foundation website.
The theme for this year’s line-up is “Odd Obsessions – Desires, Hopes and Impulses in Japanese Cinema”. Showcasing younger Japanese film-makers’ talents as well as a popular anime and rare documentary film, the programme will present the multiplicity of “wanting” in all its guises.
You can check up the full film line-up on the website here, but here are just a few films that have caught my attention…
The Mohican Comes Home
After seven years away, deadbeat rocker Eikichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) reluctantly returns to his home on a remote island near Shikoku with news that his clumsy girlfriend Yuka (Atsuko Maeda) is pregnant and that they will be getting married. After a wild welcome party, Eikichi’s old-school father collapses and a subsequent doctor’s visit reveals the worst – Osamu diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
Bottom-of-the-class Sayaka (played by newcomer Kasumi Arimura) enrols in a cram school in a last ditch attempt to improve her grades. There Sayaka meets the overly optimistic and unconventional teacher Mr Tsubota (Atsushi Ito) who soon encourages Sayaka to set her sights on passing the entrance exam for Japan’s prestigious Keio University.
Delinquent runaway Taira (Yuya Yagira, Nobody Knows) leaves his hometown for the city, where he aimlessly roams the streets picking fights with random bystanders. Rallied on by a high schooler, Taira’s street-side scuffles soon turn into a sinister game.
A Silent Voice
Shoko, a young Deaf student, transfers to a new school where she is bullied by Shoya for her hearing impairment. While Shoya originally leads the class in bullying Shoko, the class soon turn on him for his lack of compassion. When they leave elementary school, Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other again, but Shoya, tormented by his past behaviour, decides he must see Shoko once more to atone for his sins – but is it already too late?