The annual Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is arguably the best event in the UK-Japan calendar! From contemporary dramas to anime to classics, it’s the largest of its kind focussing on Japanese cinema in the UK. The theme for this year is ‘happiness!’
Kicking off in London next week before touring across the rest of the UK – here’s what’s on offer this year. There’s still time to get your tickets!
Find your local screening at: London, Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Chester, Colchester, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Halifax, Inverness, Kendal, Leicester, Lewes, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stamford, Stirling!
My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!) by Kawai Hayato (2015)
Based on the popular manga series of the same name, Takeo (Suzuki Ryohei) is a lovable giant admired by his fellow male students but struggling to find his own love story – girls tend to be repelled by his hulking looks or fall for his best friend (Sakaguchi Kentaro). That is until the day he saves Rinko (NAGANO Mei) from a pervert…
Our Meal for Tomorrow (Bokura no gohan wa ashita de matteru) by Ichii Masahide (2017)
After participating in their school’s sack race, an unlikely romance begins between an introverted Hayama (Nakajima Yuto) and outspoken Uemura (Araki Yuko). As their lives unfold over the next 7 years, can they overcome obstacles and continue sharing meals in good times and bad?
Her Sketchbook (Sekai wa kyo kara kimi no mono) by Ozaki Masaya (2017)
Mami (Kadowaki Mugi) is an otaku and a hikikomori (shut-in). Worried about her future, Mami’s father finds her a job as a videogame tester, where she meets Ryotaro (Miura Takahiro). Encouraged by him to draw game characters for the company, she takes her first tentative steps towards new opportunities. Followed by a Q&A with the director.
A Banana? At This Time of Night? (Konna Yofuke Ni Banana Kayo: Itoshiki Jitsuwa) by Maeda Tetsu (2018)
Afflicted by muscular dystrophy, Yasuaki (OIZUMI Yo) doesn’t let that slow him down. A charming and eternally positive man, he is determined to live an independent life and fulfil his dreams with the help of coerced volunteers Misaki (Takahata Mitsuki) and Tanaka (Miura Haruma). Based on a true story.
Organ (Ano Hi No Orugan) by Hiramatsu Emiko (2019)
As Tokyo burns in the wake of air strikes in the closing months of the Pacific War, nursery teachers lead by Kaede (Toda Erika) scramble to evacuate the children under their care to an abandoned temple. A rare film showing the little known realities of women on the home front who answered the call of duty in the face of adversity.
The Actor (Haiyu Kameoka Takuji) by Yokohama Satoko (2015)
Kameoka Takuji (Yasuda Ken) is the perennial supporting actor, constantly typecast as background characters, from homeless to yakuza roles. Thirty-seven years old and single, he reaches a crossroads in his life when he meets a female bar owner (Aso Kumiko) that may change everything.
Little Nights, Little Love (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) by Imaizumo Rikiya (2019)
Sato (Miura Haruma) is a singleton in his late 20s, longing for the perfect meet-cute to kick start his love life. One day, he meets Saki (Tabe Mikako) in an unlikely encounter on the street, soon sparking a romantic connection. Is it a miracle? Based on a story by one of Japan’s most popular novelists, the film asks what is necessary in attaining happiness in a relationship.
Jesus (Boku wa Iesu-sama ga kirai) by Okuyama Hiroshi (2018)
Having relocated from the big city to a rural town, timid Yura (Sato Yura) feels isolated in his new Christian school. Initially sceptical of the new worshipping practice, he begins to have apparitions of a tiny, mute Jesus who seems to answer his prayers. But he should be careful what he wishes for…
Another World (Han Sekai) by Sakamoto Junji (2018)
Koh (Inagaki Goro) leads a mundane life as a village charcoal maker – a profession he took over from his father. One day, an encounter with his old military buddy from the Self-Defence Force (Hasegawa Hiroki) brings back complex memories, making him reconsider his passive existence.
Bento Harassment (Kyo mo iyagarase bento) by Tsukamoto Renpei (2019)
Wishing to open up another line of communication with her rebellious teenage daughter, in the name of light-hearted revenge, single mother Kaori (Shinohara Ryoko) begins creating embarrassingly sweet messages in her child’s lunchbox meals. Will it work?
My Dad is a Heel Wrestler (Papa wa Warumono Champion) by Fujimura Kyohei (2018)
Little Shota (Terada Kokoro) gets the shock of his life when he discovers that the father he looks up to plays the despicable heel wrestler, Cockroach. Once a star champion, Takashi (Tanahashi Hiroshi) decides to overcome his injuries and re-join the wrestling big league to win back his son’s heart.
Lying to Mom (Suzukike no Uso) by Nojiri Katsumi (2018)
Yuko (Hara Hideko) wakes up in the hospital with amnesia, oblivious to her son’s death. Realising this, her family decides to innocently deceive the mother, pretending that he is alive and well, working in Argentina. Meanwhile, the rest of the family struggles to deal with their grief.
Shadowfall (Kagefumi) by Shinohara Tetsuo (2019)
Makabe (Yamazaki Masayoshi), a first-class professional burglar, witnesses arson while on a job at night. The fire brings back memories of a past incident some 20 years before and sets in motion events which will determine his destiny.
And Your Bird Can Sing (Kimi no tori wa utaeru) by Miyake Sho (2018)
A gritty coming-of-age drama depicting the lives of a Hakodate bookstore clerk (Emoto Tasuku), his co-worker (Ishibashi Shizuka), and housemate (Sometani Shota) as the carefree trio fight the sense of being adrift, hedonistically enjoying nightly escapades. But their happy days hinge on a delicate balance.
Sea of Revival (Nagi machi) by Shiraishi Kazuya (2019)
In a bid to rid himself of his crippling gambling addiction, Ikuo (Katori Shingo) moves to his partner’s coastal hometown in an area recovering from the devastating 2011 earthquake. Initially adapting to the new environment, his vice soon catches up to him in a vicious cycle.
The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps (Ningyo no nemuru ie) by Tsutsumi Yukihiko (2018)
Teetering on the edge of divorce, a couple is faced with tragedy when their daughter becomes brain dead with little chance of recovery following an accident. Confronted by an impossible decision, the parents must seek alternative solutions in a bid to keep her alive…
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler (Eiga: Kakegurui) by Hanbusa Tsutomu (2019)
At Hyakkaoh Private Academy students are ranked on their gambling abilities rather than grades. The coveted prize for becoming the ultimate gambling champion is a ‘blank future’ that will give the winner autonomy over their life after graduation. Who will win happiness by betting on their lives?
Ten Dark Women (Kuroi juunin no onna) by Ichikawa Kon (1961)
Progressive for the time of its production, this black comedy follows the undoing of a married TV producer and philanderer as the women in his life join forces in conspiring to kill him. Starring many representative figures of Japan’s silver screen, this stylish work by the director of Tokyo Olympiad is a rare treat praised by his contemporaries.
Ride Your Wave (Kimi to, Nami ni Noretara) by Yuasa Masaaki (2019)
After young firefighter Minato (Katayose Ryota) rescues avid surfer Hinako (Kawaei Rina), the two fall in love. But Minato’s life is cut short in an accident at sea causing the distraught Hinako to stay away from the ocean; until the day she hums their song and he appears in the water…
I Go Gaga, My Dear (Bokemasukara, yoroshiku onegaishimasu) by Nobutomo Naoko (2018)
Filmmaker Nobutomo begins to notice gradual changes affecting her nonagenarian mother. Turning the camera on her parents’ lives, she presents an intimate portrait of the highs and lows of a family living with Alzheimer’s and the reality of geriatric care in Japan’s super aging society. Followed by Q&A with the director.