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15 Films you cannot miss at the 14th Camera Japan Festival 2019

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We present a list of fourteen films you shouldn’t miss at the 14th Camera Japan Festival which will take place from September 25th – 29th in Rotterdam (WORM + Lantaren Venster) and from October 3rd – 6th in Amsterdam (Filmtheater Kriterion).

About the festival:
CAMERA JAPAN is a Japanese cultural festival organised in Rotterdam every year since 2006. The main focus is on film, but we also explore the visual arts, music, dance, fashion, architecture, food, and much more. Every autumn, we take a selection of films from the programme to Amsterdam for a weekend of screening the best, the weirdest, and the most unexpected cinema from Japan.

 

12 Suicidal Teens

12 Suicidal Teens by Tsutsumi Yukihiko – Japan | 2019 – 118 minutes

When 12 teenagers gather in an abandoned hospital to commit suicide, they stumble upon the body of a dead boy. Together they must figure out if he has been murdered, and if so, who among them might be the murderer. Clever, thoughtful and emotional whodunnit that goes a lot deeper than similar films from the past.

Screenings:
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 21:30 pm
September 28th (Saturday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 12:00 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Every Day a Good Day

Every Day a Good Day by Omori Tatsushi – Japan | 2018 – 100 minutes

Clumsy university student Noriko lacks confidence and isn’t really sure what she wants to do with her life. But she finds her calling when she starts attending a Japanese tea ceremony class near her house, together with her more sociable cousin. A modest, contemplative and beautiful film about the power of tradition, starring legendary actress KIKI Kirin (Shoplifters) in her final role.

Screenings:
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 14:15 pm
September 29th (Sunday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 12:30 pm
October 6th (Sunday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 12:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Fly Me To Saitama

Fly Me To Saitama by Takeuchi Hideki – Japan | 2019 – 107 minutes

There is some animosity between the city of Tokyo and the neighbouring prefecture of Saitama. Tokyoites see the Saitamese as poor peasants, while the latter see the city-folk as snobbish and stuck-up. In this crowd-pleasing, colourful modern fable, the class war between city dwellers and small-town folk is sharply, but lovingly, satirised.

Screenings:
September 28th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 19:30 pm
October 5th (Saturday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 19:00 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Jam

Jam by Sabu – Japan | 2018 – 102 minutes

In this energetic, fast-paced film (in typical SABU-style), three men find themselves in separate predicaments. Singer Hiroshi is being kidnapped by his biggest fan, ex-convict Tetsuo is facing retribution after taking revenge on the gangsters who put him in jail, and Takeru is convinced that doing three good deeds a day will bring back his comatose girlfriend. A humorous, absurdist black comedy.

Screenings:
September 28th (Saturday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 22:00 pm
September 29th (Sunday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 21:45 pm
October 5th (Saturday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 21:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Jesus

Jesus by Okuyama Hiroshi – Japan | 2018 – 77 minutes

When his parents move to a small town, Yura is forced to enroll at a Christian school, a religion he doesn’t understand. Unable to fit in with his peers, Yura loses himself in daydreams in which a tiny Jesus appears, helping him work through his life struggles, religion and death. A magic realist fable that was awarded the Best New Director prize at the prestigious San Sebastian Festival.

Screening:
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 21:45 pm
October 5th (Saturday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 17:00 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Kids Return

Kids Return by Takeshi Kitano – Japan | 1996 – 108 minutes

Two high school dropouts set out on very different paths in life. One becomes a boxer, the other a low-level gangster. Their stories are told against a larger vista of stories about growing up and not knowing your destiny. Kids Return was the start of a period when director KITANO Takeshi (Hana-bi) broadened his palette considerably, lending this film a light ironic and melancholic touch.

Screening:
September 26th (Thursday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 19:15 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Melancholic

Melancholic by Tanaka Seiji – Japan | 2018 – 113 minutes

Not knowing what to do with his life after graduating from one of the top universities in Japan, Kazuhiko lands himself a simple job at a local bathhouse. His life takes an unexpected turn when he discovers that during the night the bathhouse is used by the yakuza to kill off their enemies. From black comedy to social drama, and from tense gangster action to quirky love story, Melancholic is a true genre blending experience.

Screenings:
September 26th (Thursday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 21:30 pm
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 14:30 pm
October 4th (Friday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 21:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Orphan's Blues

Orphan’s Blues by Kudo Riho – Japan | 2018 – 89 minutes

Beautifully shot road movie about Emma, a young woman who suffers from amnesia. She leaves her home to search for a long-lost friend and is quickly joined by Van, who grew up in the same orphanage as her and is trying to escape the gangsters he recently robbed. Winner of the Grand Prize at the Pia Film Festival, one of the most important awards for young, independent filmmakers in Japan.

Screenings:
September 28th (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster Rotterdam | 14:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Penguin Highway

Penguin Highway by Ishida Hiroyasu – Japan | 2018 – 118 minutes

When a group of penguins surfaces in his neighbourhood, a young fourth-grader tries to find out their origin and gets involved in a much larger adventure involving mud-monsters and a mysterious woman. The internationally successful debut-feature of ISHIDA Hiroyasu, co-founder of Studio Colorido, is a gorgeously animated sci-fi adventure about the wonders of childhood.

Screenings:
September 28th (Saturday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 14:30 pm
September 29th (Sunday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 17:00 pm
October 6th (Sunday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 17:00 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Queer Japan

Queer Japan by Graham Kolbeins – US, Japan | 2019 – 100 minutes

A vibrant and joyful exploration of the Japanese LGBTQIA+ community, focusing on the exploration of sexuality through art and politics. The people interviewed span a spectrum wider than any typical rainbow: from the middle-aged mangaka who likes to draw gay bears in bondage to the the non-binary artist who performs at playfully kinky hentai-parties, and from the photographer who photographed over a 1000 queer Japanese to the first transgender elected official in Japan.

Screenings:
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvenster Rotterdam | 19:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Red Snow

Red Snow by Kai Sayaka – Japan | 2019 – 106 minutes

On a small island somewhere in northern Japan, a child has disappeared. Although just a small village, apparently no one knows anything, and the case is closed. But thirty years later a journalist decides to start a new investigation at his own risk. Captivating mystery set in a village that seems doomed to be buried under a thick layer of snow, sorrows and lies.

Screenings:
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 14:30 pm
September 29th (Sunday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 12:00 pm
October 6th (Sunday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 21:45 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Samurai Marathon

Samurai Marathon by Bernard Rose – Japan, UK | 2019 – 104 minutes

Samurai Marathon by Bernard Rose – Japan, UK | 2019 – 104 minutes
English cult director Bernard ROSE (Candyman, Immortal Beloved) makes his Japanese-language debut with this period piece about the historical origins of the Japanese marathon. When American imperialists visit the Japanese shores, the local lord, fearing an invasion, starts training his men by letting them run marathons. When the shogunate hears of this, a conflict arises. Can bloodshed be prevented? Produced by the team behind MIIKE Takashi’s masterly samurai film 13 Assassins.

Screenings:
September 27th (Friday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 16:30 pm
September 28th (Saturday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 19:15 pm
October 4th (Friday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 21:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

Sending Off

Sending Off by Ian Thomas Ash – Japan | 2019 – 79 minutes

Dr. KONTA Kaoru and her team of nurses provide hospice care to patients in their homes in rural Japan. The changing seasons provide a backdrop to the deepening relationships the patients form with their families as they reach the end of their lives. A powerful and respectful documentary that challenges viewers to think about how they live their own lives, and how they would like to die. Winner of the Nippon Docs Award 2019 at Nippon Connection (Frankfurt, Germany).

Screenings:
September 28th (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster Rotterdam | 22:00 pm
October 5th (Saturday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 13:00 pm

Trailer:

 

 

The Chaplain

The Chaplain by Sako Dai – Japan | 2018 – 114 minutes

Saeki works as a prison chaplain, regularly visiting inmates on death row. He does his best to instill in them a sense of morality, but as time passes he starts to wonder if he’s doing the right thing. Impressive drama about a topic that is rarely discussed in Japanese media, featuring an astonishing lead performance by the late actor OSUGI Ren, who passed away in 2018.

Screenings:
September 29th (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster Rotterdam | 14:15 pm

Trailer:

 

 

We Are Little Zombies - Still 4

We Are Little Zombies by Nagahisa Makoto – Japan | 2019 – 120 minutes

Four orphans meet at the funeral home where their parents are being cremated at the same time. They get together and form a rock band, which is only the beginning of this darkly comic satire about death, mourning, mass-media and being young. The adventurous, colourful visual style playfully illustrates the daydreams of the characters, making this film as vibrant and youthful as its protagonists.

Screenings:
September 26th (Thursday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 14:00 pm
September 29th (Sunday) | Lantarenvester Rotterdam | 19:00 pm
October 4th (Friday) | Kriterion Amsterdam | 16:30 pm

Trailer:

 

 

For more information about the programme please visit the official website of the festival: Camera Japan Festival 2019

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