8 Docs you shouldn’t miss at the 20th Nippon Connection – Japanese Film Festival

nippon2020docsThese are eight documentaries you can’t miss at the 20th Nippon Connection – Japanese Film Festival, which will take place from June 9th – 14th, 2020 online in Vimeo. *Films have country restrictions*

About the festival:
The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is the biggest platform for Japanese cinema worldwide and takes place at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle and further locations in Frankfurt am Main. The unique film and supporting program offers a varied experience of Japan from tradition to modernity. In 2019 the festival showed more than 100 films, with an audience of over 16,500 attending, and more than 70 guests from Japan came to introduce their films.

*Note: Some films have country restrictions and you won’t be able to watch them. Each film costs 5 euros. After you have paid you can stream the film for 24 hours. There is a 10-ticket package for 40 euros. *

Selected Docs:


Ainu – Indigenous People of Japan by Naomi Mizoguchi – Japan | 2019 – 80 minutes

The Ainu are an indigenous people living in the northern part of Japan, especially on the island of Hokkaido. Being relatively autonomous until the 19th century, they suffered a strong pressure to “modernize” and to assimilate to the Japanese “national culture”, starting with the era of the Meiji Restoration. Today, most younger Ainu have no relation to their ancestors’ culture, and knowledge of the Ainu language is rare even among members of the elder generation. In her documentary, Naomi Mizoguchi depicts the manifold attempts of the Ainu today to regain and pass on their cultural identity. (Nippon Connection)

* ONLY available in Germany *




An Ant Strikes Back

An Ant Strikes Back by Tokachi Tsuchiya – Japan | 2019 – 98 minutes

More than 5,000 people died from the ramifications of overworking in Japan between 2006 and 2017 – and this is only the official number. Rarely do Japanese employees stand up against exploitative working conditions, since the social pressure is too high. In his documentary, Tokachi Tsuchiya follows the case of a moving company sales agent who decides to no longer accept illegal employment contract clauses and a humiliating work environment. Initially being just like an ant among others, he joins a labor union and fights not only for his own rights, but for the rights of all “ants” in Japan’s workforce. (Nippon Connection)

*Available Worldwide*




Book Paper Scissors

Book-Paper-Scissors by Nanako Hirose – Japan | 2019 – 93 minutes

Nobuyoshi Kikuchi has devoted his life to books. Over the course of his career, he has designed more than 15,000 book covers. Even in the digital age, he still works with a ruler, scissors, and pencils, creating unique fonts, and being meticulous about the properties of the chosen paper. He enjoys the personal exchange with authors, a good cup of coffee, and a stroll through the flea market. Nanako Horose presents a fascinating portrait of a seemingly old-fashioned personality – but maybe it is exactly this kind of personality which can give an inspiration to reflect on the really valuable things in life? (Nippon Connection)

*Available ONLY in Europe*




Documentary of the Journalist

i-Documentary of the Journalist by Tatsuya Mori – Japan | 2019 – 111 minutes

In Japan, there is an informal agreement between mainstream media and the government that is hardly ever questioned: Journalists are not too persistent in their criticism, in turn representatives of the government grant direct access to select information through press conferences. Isoko Mochizuki, reporter for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, has established herself as a spoilsport in this system. Her work has already been the basis for the multi-award-winning 2019 feature film The Journalist (available in this year’s NIPPON CINEMA section). For its equally gripping documentary counterpart, Tatsuya MORI has accompanied Mochizukiwith his camera for several months. (Nippon Connection)

*ONLY available in Germany*




Prison Circle

Prison Circle by Kaori Sakagami – Japan | 2019 – 120 minutes

It took Kaori Sakagami six years to receive permission for shooting her documentary in a Japanese prison. In a unique project, a limited number of inmates can participate in a therapeutic circle in order to understand the mental and social conditions of their behavior. Even after being released from prison, former inmates are supported by psychologists and social workers. What is remarkable in the process: the inmates learn to support each other and to open up toward the experiences of others. This film is a touching plea to consider the significance of social reintegration. (Nippon Connection)

*ONLY available in Germany*




Sleeping Village

Sleeping Village by Reika Kamata, Junichi Saito – Japan | 2018 – 96 minutes

In 1961, a spectacular criminal case shocks Japan: at what became known as the “Nabari Poison Wine” incident, five people lose their lives at a village social gathering. One of the attendants, Masaru Okunishi , is made out as the main suspect. Rumor has it that he wanted to kill his wife and his lover in order to end his extra-marital affair. After being questioned by the police for days, he signs a confession, only to withdraw it soon afterwards. Nonetheless, he is sentenced to death and all pleas for a retrial are denied. Sleeping Village documents the tragic story of this case, the traumatizing effects of which still linger on today. (Nippon Connection)

*Available Worldwide EXCEPT in Japan*




This Planet Is Not My Planet

This Planet Is Not My Planet by Miwa Yoshimine – Japan | 2019 – 90 minutes

Mitsu Tanaka is a pioneer of the Japanese women’s liberation movement. She started her activism in the early 1970s, motivated by the feeling she already had as a child: This world with its rules and power structures is not the world she wants to live in! Her main concern today is to transfer feminism as a comprehensive moral attitude into one’s occupational, family, and everyday life. Miwa Yoshimine has accompanied the protagonist of her documentary for several years, creating an in-depth portrayal of the person behind the political struggles: Mitsu Tanaka doesn’t hide her rough edges. (Nippon Connection)

*ONLY available in Germany*





Ts’onot / Cenote by Kaori Oda – Japan, Mexico | 2019 – 81 minutes

Cenotes are extensive cave systems filled with water, located mainly on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. For the Mayan civilization, these caves were essential water reservoirs. They were also considered to be mythical places connecting the worlds of the living and the dead. For her experimental documentary, Kaori Oda literally dove into this mysterious realm. She lets us take a glimpse into this world not only by impressive images partly shot on 8mm film, but also through the tales of the local population: a tradition passing on ancient myths and forming its own kind of history. (Nippon Connection)

*Available Worldwide EXCEPT Japan and North America*




For more information about the films and how to watch them please go to the official website:

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