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12 films you shouldn’t miss at the 15th Camera Japan Festival 2020

These are twelve films shouldn’t miss at the 15th Camera Japan Festival which will take place from September 23rd – 27th in Rotterdam and from October 1st – 4th in Amsterdam.

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.

Selected Films:

A Girl Missing by Fukada Koji – Japan | 2019 – 111 minutes

Ichiko is happy with her work as a private nurse for a family that makes her feel appreciated and at home. Not only does she take care of the grandmother, but she is also the confidante of the eldest sister Motoko. But then one day Motoko’s youngest sister disappears and the kidnapper turns out to be Ichiko’s cousin. (Camera Japan 2020)

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 16:45 pm
September 25th, 2020 (Friday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 19:00 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/2rmNcfefcaM

Beautiful Goodbye by Imamura Eiichi – Japan | 2019 – 113 minutes

Naïve-looking youngster Shinoda is on the run from the police when he meets a young woman who is trying to escape her toxic boyfriend. They decide to travel together, sharing their desires, memories, dreams, and maybe an impossible love. A delightful road movie that seems very typical at first, but there’s a twist: Shinoda’s travel companion isn’t a normal girl, she’s actually a zombie. Though the encounter between a fugitive and a zombie might sound like the most bizarre movie plot you have ever heard of, the two characters turn out to have much more in common than just their need for escape.

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 22:00 pm
September 25th, 2020 (Friday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 17:15 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 15:30 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/JofgwDYevNg

Cry by Watanabe Hirobumi – Japan | 2019 – 75 minutes

Half-way between a documentary and a feature, this film depicts the life of a pig farmer during one week. Day by day we see him performing the same routines shot from the same camera perspective. Barely a word is spoken, and at night only the sounds of nature or the calm evening movements can be heard. Shot in the characteristic black and white that has become his trademark, Cry is the eighth movie by WATANABE Hirobumi (Poolsideman, CJ 2017), one of the most unique voices in Japanese cinema. Long shots and a total absence of dialogue are quite common in WATANABE’s cinema, creating a tension that often leads to sharp irony. Winner of the Best Director Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 19:30 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 10:30 am
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 11:30 am

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/sESVv8DWwYc

Extro by Murahashi Naoki – Japan | 2019 – 88 minutes

Hilarious mockumentary about an elderly extra and the ins and outs of a film set. Starting as a realistic, dryly comic portrait, this movie slowly becomes increasingly bizarre. Extro has everything it takes to become a genuine cult classic including a guest appearance by the recently deceased cult director OBAYASHI Nobuhiko (Hausu).

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 14:15 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 14:00 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 20:00 pm
October 4th, 2020 (Sunday) | LABIII (Amsterdam) | 13:00 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/e-tgBi8w5gU

i – Documentary of the Journalist by Mori Tatsuya – Japan | 2019 – 113 minutes

Politics and press are tightly interwoven in Japan through the so-called ‘press clubs’ (kisha kurabu). MOCHIZUKI Isoko of the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper is one of the journalists who fights for more independent news-gathering. Her trademark is the fiery way in which she questions politicians and their spokespeople. Documentary maker MORI Tatsuya follows her while she reports on a scandal surrounding prime minister ABE Shinzo. The film presents a clear image of the problems and challenges that Japanese journalists currently face.

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 21:30 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 17:30 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 10:00 am

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/ETeuy-7ljCM

Minori on the Brink by Ninomiya Ryutaro – Japan | 2019 – 130 minutes

Minori is tired of being judged solely on her looks. She’s annoyed by the superficiality of her peers and the conformism of older people. Minori regularly shows her dissatisfaction, but it only makes people take her even less seriously. A beautiful portrait of a young woman who is determined to change the world with HAGIWARA Minori (Hello, Goodbye) in a fantastic lead role.

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 13:45 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 21:30 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 12:00 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/IHSXbk3m6Co

Mother by Omori Tatsushi – Japan | 2020 – 126 minutes

Shuhei’s life is tough. His alcoholic mother Akiko seems only to hook up with horrible men and she frequently orders her son to get money from his disapproving grandparents instead of going to school. Shuhei’s rock-bottom life seems to have no end until one day Akiko orders him to rob the aging grandparents one last time. Inspired by true events, this harsh and hauntingly beautiful film portrays the life of a boy who only knows the world through the twisted love of his mother.

Screening Dates:
September 24th, 2020 (Thursday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 19:15 pm
September 25th, 2020 (Friday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 14:00 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 21:30 pm
October 1st, 2020 (Thursday) | BAIII (Amsterdam) | 15:30 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/RBBE901vuFg

Not Quite Dead Yet by Hamasaki Shinji – Japan | 2020 – 93 minutes

Nanase has a troubled relationship with her father, the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, who doesn’t understand her desire to become Japan’s biggest rock star. One day he takes a drug as part of an experiment to make him die for just a short amount of time, but something goes horribly wrong and it’s up to Nanase to make sure her father comes back to life. Luckily she gets help from none other than his ghost. A colorful, crazy comedy about how you only really get to know someone when it is almost too late.

Screening Dates:
September 25th, 2020 (Friday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 17:00 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 19:30 pm
October 4th, 2020 (Sunday) | LAB III (Amsterdam) | 17:30 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/GQ254ZBpEkg

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

Remarkably, this is the first ever feature-length documentary to be filmed inside a Japanese prison. Crime is still something of a taboo topic in Japan. It took director SAKAGAMI Kaori six years to obtain permission to shoot at the Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Program Centre where prisoners undergo a therapeutic programme based on individual and group sessions. By dividing the film into chapters and focusing on each individual story – the previous crimes of the prisoners are shown in the form of astonishing sand drawings – she creates the atmosphere of a dark fairy tale, made much creepier as soon as you realise that it all actually happened. The photography is intentionally raw, to avoid distracting the audience from the story or embellishing an environment that definitely does not need it.

Screening Dates:
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 10:15 am
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 18:45 am

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/6lHlaX7VZA0

Take Over Zone by Yamasaki Shinpei – Japan | 2019 – 90 minutes

The parents of teenager Sari split up three years ago and ever since, she has been living with her father while her younger brother Toma lives with their mother. After getting into a conflict with a fellow student named Yukina, Sari discovers that her mother is actually living together with Yukina’s father. Out of despair and frustration, she decides to take Toma and run away. A beautiful film about growing up and accepting who you are with strong acting from the young cast.

Screening Dates:
September 25th, 2020 (Friday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 12:00 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 20:00 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 21:45 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/QjQa5fOEv74

Talking the Pictures by Suo Masayuki – Japan | 2019 – 126 minutes

All his life, Shuntaro has dreamed of becoming a famous katsudō benshi (narrator at screenings of silent films). One day, he is given the opportunity to demonstrate his skills at a small cinema. There, he has to deal with a jealous colleague, a rival cinema, a thief who claims Shuntaro still owes him money, and a cinephile police officer who is after him. A charming and comical ode to an art form that was extremely popular in Japan a hundred years ago.

Screening Dates:
September 25th, 2020 (Friday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 19:15 pm
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 10:00 am
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 17:00 pm
October 3rd, 2020 (Saturday) | LAB III (Amsterdam) | 18:45 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/GF7WzpcNcWc

Voices in the Wind by Suwa Nobuhiro – Japan | 2020 – 139 minutes

Haru is the only one of her family to survive the tsunami in 2011. After the tragedy she moved to Hiroshima to live with her aunt, but when the aunt is suddenly hospitalised, Haru decides to hitchhike back to her hometown Otsuchi. During her travels, she is told by several people about a so-called “wind telephone” in the village which can be used to call your deceased relatives. A beautiful drama about dealing with trauma. Despite the heavy topic, Voices in the Wind is full of tender moments.

Screening Dates:
September 26th, 2020 (Saturday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 14:45 pm
September 27th, 2020 (Sunday) | Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam) | 19:30 pm
October 2nd, 2020 (Friday) | LAB III (Amsterdam) | 12:30 pm

Trailer:
https://youtu.be/ftkGwSKogoc

For more information about the festival and the programme please visit the official website here: https://camerajapan.nl

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