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8 Film you shouldn’t miss at the 15th Japan Cuts

These are eight films you shouldn’t miss at the 15th Japan Cuts which will take place in cinemas and online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021. *Online available only for people living in USA*

This year North America’s largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema returns this year under a hybrid edition, there will be in-person and online screening (at the Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NY).

IN-Person Screenings:
Tickets: $ 15 / 10 Members

Online Screening:
Rentals: $ 1 – $ 10
All-Access Pass: $ 69 for all online films (limited availability)

Please note: Visitor safety is our top priority. All festival attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear a proper mask at all times while inside our building.

– Selected Films –

Aristocrats by Yukiko Sode – Japan | 2020 – 124 minutes

Whisked between social functions by private car, Hanako (Mugi Kadowaki, Love’s Whirlpool) lives a cloistered life among Tokyo’s wealthy elite. As she approaches her thirties, her family pushes her toward marriage and arranges dates with suitable bachelors. Meanwhile, Miki (Kiko Mizuhara, Helter Skelter) is making headway as an event planner after arriving in the city from her small town to attend a prestigious university only to drop out due to financial stress. When their paths cross over a man on a glide path to political power (Kengo Kora), these women recognize each other as individuals in the process of realizing their own passions and agency. Adapted from Mariko Yamauchi’s novel, Yukiko Sode’s dissection of class and gender comes alive with a fantastic cast including Shizuka Ishibashi (And Your Bird Can Sing) and Rio Yamashita (Asako I & II). (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info (ONLY in person):
August 21st, 2021 | Saturday | 7:00 pm
August 26th, 2021 | Thursday | 4:00 pm

Trailer:

B/B by Kosuke Nakahama – Japan | 2020 – 77 minutes

Following the suspension of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to corruption and a failed attack by an Aum Shinrikyo-like cult, pop culture-obsessed high schooler Sana (newcomer Karen) is brought in for questioning by a psychiatrist and police detective in connection to a case known as the “Icarus Murder” after it is discovered that she knows the victim’s son, Shiro. Inflicted by an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, however, Sana’s recollections are fractured by the multiple personalities inside her (12 in total), each of whom provide their own commentary. Nevertheless, as Sana gets deeper into her story, the troubling truth behind her relationship with Shiro is revealed. A highly imaginative debut marked by confident direction, audacious visual style and an impressive lead performance, B/B viscerally communicates youthful revulsion at an unjust world. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.

Trailer:

Come and Go by Kah Wai Lim – Japan | 2020 – 158 minutes

Tourists, foreigners and outcasts converge on the streets of Osaka in this sprawling ensemble drama by Japan-based, Malaysia-born filmmaker Lim Kah Wai. Reminiscent of Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) in its loose, multi-character structure and location specificity, Lim’s eighth feature explores the lesser-known aspects of the Asian melting pot city through the eyes and experiences of a dozen characters who struggle to find their place in society—among them a Nepali refugee with dreams of opening a restaurant, a Burmese student struggling to make ends meet while working two jobs and a Taiwanese sex tourist (amusingly played by Tsai Ming-liang muse Lee Kang-sheng) who travels to meet his favorite adult video actress. A fascinating, multi-faceted portrait of modern Osaka (specifically the Umeda district), Come and Go complicates the idea of Japan’s homogeneity while not shying away from social criticism. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.

Trailer:

Company Retreat by Atsushi Funahashi – Japan | 2021 – 135 minutes

Following a widely publicized workplace sexual harassment incident at a well-known Tokyo hotel chain between female receptionist Saki (Saki Hirai) and her superior—which leads to a social media frenzy and online bullying for the victim—she joins a group of co-workers for a seaside vacation to decompress from the scrutiny. Before long, however, a debate erupts surrounding Saki’s culpability and workplace gender dynamics, and clues are revealed regarding the mystery of who leaked Saki’s personal information to social media. Based on a true story, this speculative drama draws from firsthand accounts of an actual sexual harassment case and utilizes documentary techniques to dig into the divergent Japanese reactions to issues at the center of the global #MeToo movement—something that has had trouble taking root in Japan, a country ranked 120th in gender equality according to the 2021 World Economic Forum. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.

It’s a Summer Film! by Soushi Matsumoto – Japan | 2020 – 97 minutes

Pop idol, actress and former Nogizaka46 member Marika Ito stars as a highschooler nick-named “Barefoot” (hadashi in Japanese, also meaning “superior to”), a precocious chanbara-obsessed teen who spends her days poring over classic Raizo Ichikawa and Zatoichi films with her two best friends: kendo enthusiast “Blue Hawaii” and sci-fi geek “Kickboard.” Ready to finally produce her unrealized script, Samurai Spring, Barefoot jumps into action, resolving to make her dream come true over the course of one summer—and go head-to-head with her rival, the film club’s darling rom-com director—with her friends and a ragtag crew that includes a mysterious classmate whose love of samurai films matches her own. A charming and girl group-focused coming-of-age comedy that at times recalls Linda Linda Linda (2005), It’s a Summer Film offers an endearing tribute to the life-affirming power of cinema. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.
August 20th, 2021 | Friday | 7:00 pm
August 21st, 2021 | Saturday | 1:30 pm

Trailer:

Sasaki in My Mind by Takuya Uchiyama – Japan | 2020 – 118 minutes

A chance encounter with an old high school friend thrusts Yuji (Kisetsu Fujiwara), a struggling Tokyo actor making ends meet by working in a factory, toward reliving experiences from his youth that sparked his now fizzled inspiration. For Yuji and his friends in their late twenties, this time was defined by the self-consciously rambunctious Sasaki (Gaku Hosokawa), who filled silences with gregarious banter, or—without warning—stripping nude and dancing to boys chanting his name before streaking across campus. As memories of Sasaki’s selfless encouragement of his acting craft come back, Yuji also discovers the many ways in which he failed to be there for this sad class clown, compelling him to push forward. This follow-up to Takuya Uchiyama’s 2016 Pia Film Festival Audience Award-winning film Vanitas is the result of collaboration with co-star Gaku Hosokawa, whose story this is based on. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.

Trailer:

Ushiku by Thomas Ash – Japan | 2021 – 87 minutes

The Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture is one of the largest of Japan’s 17 immigration detention facilities. Stories of Japan’s restrictive immigration policies detaining visa overstayers indefinitely, and prohibitive refugee application recognition rates (below 1% in recent years) have long circulated in the news, however the stories of people lost in the system are less visible. In this urgent call for human rights Thomas Ash (Sending Off, JC 2020) utilizes hidden cameras to interview detainees at Ushiku beginning in late 2019, who detail inadequate medical treatment, failure to recognize trans peoples’ gender identity, physical abuse and hunger strikes, all as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic rages in the background, and Japan promotes a surface-level image of acceptance and inclusion in the name of the Tokyo Olympics. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.

Trailer:

Wife of a Spy by Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Japan | 2020 – 115 minutes

Satoko Fukuhara (Yu Aoi) lives with her import/export businessman husband Yusaku (Takahashi Issey) in the port city of Kobe, with Japan on the precipice of entering WWII with Axis powers Germany and Italy in 1940. Their pleasant cosmopolitan life constricted by rising militarism, the couple is surveilled by Satoko’s admiring childhood friend who is now a steely military police officer (Masahiro Higashide). When Yusaku makes a trip to Manchuria where he witnesses colonial violence firsthand, and the mysterious woman (Hyunri) he returns with is discovered dead, Satoko questions allegiance and desire like never before, in a brave performance by Aoi. Co-written with his former students Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Tadashi Nohara (Happy Hour) and shot in 8K digital video for public broadcaster NHK, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s first historical drama eerily evokes horrors of the past in the visual register of our own terrifying times. (Japan Cuts 2021)

Screening Info:
Available online from August 20th until September 2nd, 2021.
August 27th, 2021 | Friday | 7:00 pm

Trailer:

For more information, please go to: https://www.japansociety.org/arts-and-culture/films/japan-cuts-festival-of-new-japanese-film

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