Japan Society to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of JAPAN CUTS Film Festival

Japan Society is celebrating the 10th anniversary of JAPAN CUTS, North America’s largest festival of new Japanese film, with eleven days of impossible-to-see-anywhere-else screenings of the best new movies made in and around Japan, with special guest filmmakers and stars, post-screening Q&As, parties, giveaways and much more. This year’s expansive and eclectic slate of never-before-seen-in-NYC titles boasts 29 features, 21 shorts, and more than 20 special guests—the most in the festival’s history.

Founded in 2007, JAPAN CUTS gives cinephiles their first (and sometimes only) chance to discover the next waves of film from Japan today. The festival traditionally presents a range of titles from the biggest of Japanese blockbusters, raucous genre flicks, peerless independents, arthouse gems, radical documentaries and avant-garde forms, along with unique collaborative programs put together with the cooperation of other international organizations. The festival has attracted nearly 45,000 filmgoers and screened more than 250 feature films.

Kicking off this year’s festival with a rocking celebration, the Opening Film is the North American Premiere of Mohican Comes Home, a heartwarming, offbeat comedy about a punk rocker who heads back to the country with his girlfriend by Shuichi Okita. The director will be in attendance along with star and former AKB48 idol Atsuko Maeda for a post-screening Q&A, followed by the Opening Night Party. (NOTE: This screening is already SOLD OUT.)

This year’s recipient of the CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film is the venerated actor Lily Franky, who will appear for the North American Premiere of the Centerpiece Presentation title The Shell Collector, an enigmatic and sensual second feature by emerging auteur Yoshifumi Tsubota. The screening will be followed by a Q&A and beach-themed Underwater Dream Party with members of the cast and crew in attendance. One of Japan’s most sought-after actors, Franky’s appearance follows a string of memorable performances in films by Japan’s biggest and brightest directors including Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, for which he was awarded the Japan Academy Prize for Best Supporting Actor, among a number of other prestigious awards.

In the Closing Film slot, JAPAN CUTS presents the North American Premiere of arthouse director Satoko Yokohama’s The Actor. Anchored by Ken Yasuda’s irresistible lead performance, The Actor is a reflexive comedy that pays tribute to the quotidian characters of the film industry with an unpredictable postmodern twist. Yokohama will appear at the post-screening Q&A.

In addition to a full slate of features, Japan Society is also presenting Classics: Flash-back / Flash-forward, reworking the festival’s restoration showcase in celebration of their 10th anniversary by presenting filmmakers’ influential works from the past (all on 35mm!) alongside their contemporary creations. The Documentary Focus section is also significantly expanded for this year’s 10th edition, with four outstanding portraits of artists whose work ripples out to the larger context of contemporary life in Japan. With Experimental Spotlight: Anime Vanguard, the festival continues its commitment to independent artistic visions in cinema by offering a program of vibrant short-form animations. There is also a free Panel Discussion, “Japanese Film Culture In & Out of Japan,” featuring film industry professionals sharing their thoughts on the current state of Japanese cinema.

Between screenings, audiences are invited to drop into the Microcinema section installed on the first floor, where a decade-spanning selection of shorts by up-and-coming filmmakers will be screening on a loop.

Festival programmers Aiko Masubuchi, Kazu Watanabe, and Joel Neville Anderson note, “Since its founding in 2007, the festival has offered a unique window on contemporary Japanese cinema and a direct line to Japanese film culture through its invited filmmakers and stars, many of whom have gone on to earn fans amongst festival audiences all over the world. With this landmark 10th edition, JAPAN CUTS celebrates a decade of the best new Japanese cinema and bolsters its commitment to exploring Japan’s dynamic film culture and entertaining New York audiences now and for years to come as the premier venue for Japanese film in North America.”


JAPAN CUTS, Japan Society, NYC, Japan, films, film festivals, Japanese films, cinema

Mohican Comes Home © 2016 “The Mohican Comes Home” Production Partners, LLC

Mohican Comes Home
Thursday, July 14 at 7 pm
**North American Premiere
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Shuichi Okita and star Atsuko Maeda
Directed by Shuhei Okita. With Atsuko Maeda, Ryuhei Matsuda, Akira Emoto, Masako Motai, Yudai Chiba.

After years of trying to make it in Tokyo as a punk singer, deadbeat Eikichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) decides to go back to his island home in Hiroshima along with his wide-eyed, clumsy girlfriend Yuka (Atsuko Maeda) to share the news that she is pregnant. Though Eikichi’s old-school father (Akira Emoto) initially reacts badly, he soon calls the entire town over to celebrate his grandchild—only to collapse in pain during the party. Along with his family, Eikichi tries his best to make his bedridden father happy, with hilarious results. With a nod to Carmen Comes Home (1951), director Shuichi Okita masterfully cuts a slice of life out of this perfect intersection of comedy and drama that leaves the heart as breezy and warm as the island air.

Bitter Honey
Friday, July 15 at 6:30 pm
**New York Premiere
Directed by Gakuryu Ishii. With Fumi Nikaido, Ren Osugi, Yoko Maki, Kengo Kora, Masatoshi Nagase.

Akako, a shape-shifting goldfish in the form of a coquettish nymphet clad in diaphanous red dresses (Fumi Nikaido), naively plays the role of erotic muse and adoring pet for an aging writer seeking greatness (Ren Osugi). Things quickly get complicated for the odd couple, however, when the writer’s deceased former student/lover (Yoko Maki) enters the picture as a ghost and helps Akako realize her own desires, activating her agency and frustrating the one-sided male fantasy the writer is so keen to continue. Miles away from the punk-inspired material that distinguished his early career, director Gakuryu (Sogo) Ishii displays the versatility of his talent by transforming this strange supernatural fable adapted from Saisei Muro’s novel into a heavily stylized, sensual comic fantasy full of visual wit and seamless, unpredictable shifts in tone.

Lowlife Love
Friday, July 15 at 8:30 pm
**North American Premiere
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Eiji Uchida, star Denden
Directed by Eiji Uchida. With Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Denden, Shugo Oshinari, Maya Okano, Chika Uchida, Kanji Furutachi.

Director Eiji Uchida’s follow-up to Greatful Dead is a relentlessly cynical black comedy that takes a look under the rug of the Japanese film industry, where scheming lowlife producers, filmmakers and actors get by through exploitation and intimidation. The biggest lowlife is Tetsuo (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), who made a minor indie hit many years ago but has since then coasted by shooting cheap pornos for cash and half-heartedly running an acting workshop where he sexually harasses newbie actresses. When two talented new students sign up for his workshop, however, one with an exciting original script and the other with star potential, Tetsuo sees an opportunity and makes plans for his comeback.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older.

The Magnificent Nine
Saturday, July 16 at 12 pm
**U.S. Premiere
Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Sadao Abe, Eita, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Karen Iwata, Yuko Takeuchi Ryuhei Matsuda.

Things seem hopeless for the residents of a poor post-town in 18th century Japan who suffer from land taxes and an oppressive law requiring them to bear the costs of transporting goods for their lord. That is until an ingenious idea is introduced that could turn their fortunes around—lend money to their financially strapped lord and redistribute the interest to the townspeople. Pulling together every resource they have, an unlikely group of nine small business owners and farmers set the plan in motion, risking their own heads for the sake of the town’s survival. Based on a true story, this inspiring period comedy helmed by versatile director Yoshihiro Nakamura is a celebration of the power of collective action in response to tyranny.

The Sion Sono
Saturday, July 16 at 2:30 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Arata Oshima. With Sion Sono, Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaido, Megumi Kagurazaka.

The ever-evolving Sion Sono, who burst onto the Japanese film scene with I Am Sion Sono!! in 1984, has made a name for himself in world cinema as a multiple award-winner, festival favorite and provocateur. Directed by Arata Oshima, son of rebel filmmaker Nagisa Oshima, who had praised Sono’s early work before his passing, this documentary gives insight into the man, the poet, the painter, the scriptwriter, the husband and the boy who will eventually grow up to be the Sion Sono. Lineage, history and the past meeting the present are themes in this film in which Oshima connects the dots in Sono’s creative life by taking the camera to the site of his upbringing and following the production of his most recent film The Whispering Star, also screening at this year’s JAPAN CUTS.

The Whispering Star
Saturday, July 16 at 4:45 pm
**New York Premiere
**Featuring video introduction by director Sion Sono
Directed by Sion Sono. With Megumi Kagurazaka, Kenji Endo, Yuto Ikeda, Koko Mori.

Sion Sono’s first feature with his newly established independent production company is the realization of a script he wrote two decades ago but reworked to reflect the present. Humanoid delivery woman Yoko Suzuki (Megumi Kagurazaka) makes her rounds through space, landing on isolated planets and meeting near-extinct human beings along the way. Whispering to Yoko is the child-like voice of her spaceship’s operating machine. Neither understands why humans have the need to send each other seemingly insignificant objects that take years to be delivered. Shot in black and white, Sono’s beautifully crafted sci-fi setting is reminiscent of the films of Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky. The empty landscapes that Yoko visits were filmed in the evacuated zones of Fukushima, featuring many people that Sono interviewed while making his post-3/11 film, The Land of Hope (2012).

Love & Peace
Saturday, July 16 at 7:30 pm
**NYC Premiere
**Featuring video introduction by director Sion Sono
Directed by Sion Sono. With Hiroki Hasegawa, Kumiko Aso, Toshiyuki Nishida, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Makita Sports.

Decades in the making, Love & Peace returns to director Sion Sono’s most persistent themes: purity, passion and cult power. A chilling, candy-colored fantasy of the nuclear age, this story of a coward turned Bowie-esque rock god is a frantic meditation on artistic integrity and political responsibility at a time when Sono’s own career is mutating beyond the Japanese stadium. Office clerk Ryoichi’s dreams have been squelched by fear, however a fateful meeting with a turtle sends him toward stardom. Provocatively named “Pikadon,” after the Japanese descriptor of the atomic bomb’s brilliant light (pika) and blast (don), the turtle returns just in time.

A Room of Her Own: Rei Naito and Light
Sunday, July 17 at 12 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Yuko Nakamura. With Rei Naito, Ran Taniguchi, Hina Yukawa, Keiko Oyama, Nobuko Numakura, Kyoko Tanaka.

On an island in the Seto Inland Sea, the Teshima Art Museum integrates the serene seaside environment with an architectural structure by Ryue Nishizawa and the artwork “Matrix” by Rei Naito. The remote museum’s single installation suspends light, air and droplets of underground water in constant play, defining a unique, meditative space barred from filming. An innovative portrait in which the mysterious artist refuses to appear onscreen, Yuko Nakamura’s documentary explores five women’s interactions with the dynamic space of “Matrix” in unprecedented access to the site while delving into Naito’s body of work, beginning with her projects in Hiroshima. Foregrounding a deep connection with tangible and intangible elements of human experience and generations of Japanese women, Nakamura’s film takes full advantage of the cinematic medium to confront Naito’s artworks and the existential themes they evoke.

Sunday, July 17 at 1:45 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Koji Fukada. With Bryerly Long, Hirofumi Arai, Geminoid F, Makiko Murata, Nijiro Murakami.

One of the most highly regarded Japanese directors on the international scene, Koji Fukada finds a near-future Japan in the midst of a national evacuation brought about by a nuclear disaster in Sayonara. Tanya (Bryerly Long), a South African raised in Japan suffering from a terminal illness, is at the bottom of the departures list. She spends her days with her friend Sano and lover Satoshi, however her constant companion is android caregiver Leona (Geminoid F). Created by robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, Geminoid F reprises her role with Long, both featured in the play by Oriza Hirata on which the film is based. While the post-disaster scenario is ambiguous, it clearly references Japan’s March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Addressing politically charged taboos, Sayonara asks the question “Can life as we know it survive nuclear catastrophe?”

Nagasaki: Memories of My Son
Sunday, July 17 at 4:15 pm
**U.S. Premiere
**Featuring Introduction with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto
Directed by Yoji Yamada. With Sayuri Yoshinaga, Kazuya Ninomiya, Haru Kuroki, Tadanobu Asano, Kenichi Kato.

August 9, 1948. Nagasaki, Japan. An aging midwife named Nobuko (Sayuri Yoshinaga) is visited by the ghost of her son Koji (Kazuya Ninomiya), whom she lost to the atomic bomb. From then on Koji visits his mother frequently to reminisce and catch up on lost time. Their biggest topic of conversation is Koji’s kind-hearted fiancée Machiko (Haru Kuroki), who regularly visited Nobuko over the three years since Koji’s death. Machiko and Koji both seem unable to fully accept Koji’s death, but Nobuko slowly encourages them to move on. Yoji Yamada’s moving, star-studded film is a complementary response to playwright Hisashi Inoue’s seminal work The Face of Jizo, about a father-daughter relationship in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, and the master director’s self-proclaimed attempt at making “the most important film in his life.”

Sunday, July 17 at 7 pm
**North American Premiere
**Featuring Intro with director Hitoshi One
Directed by Hitoshi One. With Takeru Satoh, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nana Komatsu, Shota Sometani, Lily Franky.

High schoolers Moritaka “Saiko” Mashiro (Takeru Satoh) and Akito “Shujin” Takagi (Ryunosuke Kamiki) have one burning desire—to make it into Weekly Shonen Jump, the most widely-read, influential manga magazine in Japan. Although the novice writer/illustrator team show exceptional promise, the competition is fierce. They battle for the top against a legion of talented artists—including Niizuma (Shota Sometani), an eccentric genius manga-ka their same age—all of whom are ultimately judged by Jump‘s discerning chief editor (Lily Franky). Based on the popular manga of the same name, Bakuman is an earnest tribute to the artistic process that sets a new standard for live-action manga adaptations. Featuring innovative motion graphics and CG animation and a propulsive soundtrack by rock band Sakanaction.

Experimental Spotlight: Anime Vanguard
Sunday, July 17 at 9:30 pm
**Featuring Intro with Onohana

An exciting selection of experimental animated works from Japan never before screened in New York City, representing a broad range of contemporary avant-garde practice. The titles range from 3-14 minutes, adopting the full breadth of styles in new animation: from visual music to raunchy music videos, digital processes to analogue filmmaking, and from minimalist atmospheric shorts to narratively rich miniature epics. All evoke completely unique worlds. 18+ These films are unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older.

  • Mono No Aware Hand-Drawn Animation Workshop Films 2016. Approx. 8 min. Digital.
    Various works from the participants of Mono No Aware’s Hand-Drawn Animation Workshop held at Japan Society on June 18. World Premiere.
  • AGE OF OBSCURE, Mirai Mizue and Onohana. 2015. 4 min. Digital.
    A grand collision of Mizue’s signature visual music forms and Onohana’s mesmerizing impressionistic illustrations, featuring music by Twoth. North American Premiere.
  • Ouch, Chou Chou, Onohana. 2016. 12 min. Digital.
    Onohana’s expansive imagination and visual style here recounts the touching saga of a cabbage and pea’s friendship across bullying and interdimensional travel. North American Premiere.
  • Land, Masanobu Hiraoka. 2013. 4 min. Digital.
    Shape shifting animal and geometric forms stun in this piece with music and sound by Aimar Molero. New York Premiere.
  • MASTER BLASTER, Sawako Kabuki. 2014. 4 min. Digital.
    Coital psychedelia featuring the music of Shinsuke Sugahara, a wild imaginary of physical intimacy. New York Premiere.
  • The Great Rabbit, Atsushi Wada. 2012. 7 min. Digital.
    “If you believe in the Rabbit, it means that you’ll believe anything. If you don’t believe in the Rabbit, it means that you wouldn’t believe anything.” New York Premiere.
  • lost summer vacation, Yoko Yuki. 2015. 3 min. Digital.
    The mystical happenings of a tropical island are pictured in an animated scroll. North American Premiere.
  • Don’t tell Mom, Sawako Kabuki. 2015. 4 min. Digital.
    A naughty musical sex-ed film for siblings. New York Premiere.
  • HOLIDAY, Ryo Hirano. 2011. 14 min. Digital.
  • Delirious, deeply romantic tale of love and loss featuring a girl, golden nude, and akahara imori newt in a gondola resort. New York Premiere.
  • TENSAI BANPAKU, Mirai Mizue. 2015. 4 min. Digital.
    The mutating forms of Tensai Banpaku, or “Genius Expo” create a stunning abstract orchestra. New York Premiere.
  • ZDRAVSTVUITE!, Yoko Yuki. 2015. 6 min. Digital.
    “On a summer day a strange man who teaches Russian at the beach took me to a town.” East Coast Premiere.
  • such a good place to die, Onohana. 2015. 3 min. Digital.
    Forms shift like a landscape of memory in this enchanting work featuring music by Tatsuki Tsushima. North American Premiere.

Three Stories of Love
Monday, July 18 at 6:30 pm
**New York Premiere
Directed by Ryosuke Hashiguchi. With Atsushi Shinohara, Toko Narushima, Ryo Ikeda, Daisuke Kuroda, Chika Uchida, Lily Franky.

Named the best Japanese movie of 2015 by Kinema Junpo, this immensely rich and expertly crafted original drama by groundbreaking writer/director Ryosuke Hashiguchi centers on the lives of three heartsick characters suffering because of love: Atsushi, a gifted bridge inspector whose wife is murdered in a random attack; Toko, a housewife trapped in a suffocating, loveless marriage; and Ryo, a successful, but emotionally unfulfilled lawyer secretly pining for a childhood friend. Much like the unforgettable character of Atsushi, who can instinctively identify bridge damage by delicately tapping on the tower foundations with a hammer, Hashiguchi is able to identify the emotional damage of his fragile, lonely characters with a seemingly effortless touch, tapping in on their moments of quiet desperation to speak volumes about the loneliness of modern life.

Monday, July 18 at 9:30 pm
Directed by Ryosuke Hashiguchi. With Seiichi Tanabe, Kazuya Takahashi, Reiko Kataoka, Yoko Akino, Manami Fuji.

When Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s first feature A Touch of Fever hit Japanese cinemas in 1993, the young filmmaker burst doors open for independent Japanese cinema by generating a huge box office success while simultaneously creating space for public discourse on gay life in Japan, virtually absent from mainstream movie screens until then. With Hush!, Hashiguchi continued to mine the complex theme of individual freedom in conflict with restrictive social pressures through gay characters, this time focusing on adults instead of adolescents. Soon after Naoya (Kazuya Takahashi) and Katsuhiro (Seiichi Tanabe) start to settle into a relationship, a slightly unhinged young woman (Reiko Kataoka) asks Katsuhiro to father her child. From this simple premise Hashiguchi develops a deeply human story told with honesty and humor about three people doing their best to do the right thing.

The Projects
Tuesday, July 19 at 6:30 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Junji Sakamoto. With Naomi Fujiyama, Ittoku Kishibe, Michiyo Okusu, Renji Ishibashi, Takumi Saito.

Whether it’s someone mixing burnables and recyclables or noise from a neighbor’s domestic spat, there’s always something occupying the residents of a housing project in the suburbs of Osaka. However Hinako (Naomi Fujiyama) and Seiji (Ittoku Kishibe) couldn’t care less. Having moved in just six months ago after the closure of their herbal medicine shop, the old couple is reluctantly putting their life back together. But when Seiji disappears, the apartment rumor mill churns: divorce, murder, dismemberment? As the story spins out of control, and a mysterious man with a parasol puts in a tall order of natural remedies, the truth turns out to be even more fantastic than gossip. Ranging from incisive comedy of errors to absurdist adventure to moving late life romance, The Projects is one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Tuesday, July 19 at 8:45 pm
Directed by Junji Sakamoto. With Naomi Fujiyama, Michiyo Okusu, Etsushi Toyokawa, Ittoku Kishibe, Jun Kunimura.

An independent cinema sensation at the time of its release, Face is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale of middle-aged seamstress Masako, set free from the emotional abuse and isolation of her family’s dry cleaning business in a shocking act of violence. Painfully shy and clumsy, she is an unlikely fugitive from the law when the nationwide manhunt for her is interrupted by the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. Masako’s life on the lam brings her in contact with a host of lonely characters, who see the face of this sympathetic killer change from humiliation to self-assurance. With Face, Junji Sakamoto sharpened his keen balance of violence and humor, moving from masculinist heroics to this unruly take on the fallen woman genre anchored by stage actress and comedian Naomi Fujiyama in her mesmerizing star debut.

Japanese Film Culture In & Out of Japan
Wednesday, July 20 at 4 pm

For the past 10 years, JAPAN CUTS has been introducing new Japanese films to New York audiences amidst numerous shifts in film culture as well as production, distribution and exhibition practices in Japan and beyond. What are the social, economic and political pressures that help determine the types of films that get made in Japan and how they are sold abroad? How has the international perception of Japanese cinema changed in recent years? What are the efforts being made and what more can be done to increase its exposure? This panel of diverse film industry veterans is assembled to address these questions and to consider the role of festivals like JAPAN CUTS – as well as distribution companies, academia, technology and beyond–in determining the direction of Japanese cinema.
This event is free. Seating is limited. Customers will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Approx. 60 min.


  • Keiko Araki is the Festival Director for Pia Film Festival (since 1992); focusing on the discovery and nurturing of new filmmakers, PFF is the longest running film festival in Japan (founded in 1977).
  • Kazuhiro Soda is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York known for his observational method and style of documentary production, and the author of many books published in Japan.
  • Alexander Zahlten is an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, and was Program Director for Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt, Germany from 2002 to 2010.

A Road
Wednesday, July 20 at 6:30 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Daichi Sugimoto. With Daichi Sugimoto, Yuta Katsukura, Rika Sugimoto, Masato Ikariishi, Yoji Kondo.

Prompted by a film school assignment to capture an episode of his life on video, Daichi (played by director Daichi Sugimoto) searches his memory for a moment when he felt most like himself. He settles on his childhood hobby of catching lizards, something that used to bring him the kind of pure joy he finds missing from his life as a young adult now entering his college years. With this simple premise, first-time filmmaker Sugimoto creates a refreshingly inspired take on a contemporary coming-of-age story that gracefully blends documentary footage within an autobiographical narrative feature. An earnest exploration of the possibilities of cinema to capture, preserve, and represent the truth of personal experience.

Preceded by:
Born With It
**New York Premiere
**Featuring Intro with director Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Jr.
Directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Jr.

Young Keisuke moves from Tokyo to rural Japan where, for the first time, he encounters classroom prejudice due to his dark skin. Unsure how to respond, he turns to his mother for answers.

Mother, I’ve Pretty Much Forgotten Your Face
Wednesday, July 20 at 8:45 pm
**International Premiere
**Featuring Intro with poet Mizuki Misumi and percussionist Takashi Itani
Directed by Michiro Endo. With Michiro Endo, Mizuki Misumi, Takao Morishima, Takehara Pistol, Yoshihide Otomo.

Pig heads, intestines, megaphones: all these and more have been thrown into crowds of loyal fans following the influential punk band THE STALIN or any of number of Michiro Endo’s other bands since 1980. Taking a step in front of the camera, however, Endo offers a very different kind of encounter in this inspiring self-portrait. Mother, I’ve Pretty Much Forgotten Your Face follows the artist, a native of Nihonmatsu, Fukushima, on the 2011 nationwide solo tour celebrating his 60th birthday, which was interrupted by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Traveling, performing and talking with fellow musicians and activists, Endo reflects on the past and future of Fukushima, the legacy of Hiroshima, his upbringing and his feelings about his mother, communicated in the song from which the documentary is named.

JAPAN CUTS, Japan Society, NYC, Japan, films, film festivals, Japanese films, cinema

The Shell Collector © 2016 Shell Collector, LLC (USA) and Shell Collector Japan Film Partners

The Shell Collector
**North American Premiere – CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Yoshifumi Tsubota and star Lily Franky, with CUT ABOVE award ceremony, followed by the Underwater Dream Party!
Directed by Yoshifumi Tsubota. With Lily Franky, Shinobu Terajima, Sosuke Ikematsu, Ai Hashimoto, Akira Fukuhara.

Living alone along the white sand and turquoise waters of Okinawa is a blind professor (Lily Franky) who spends his days collecting and writing about seashells. His solitude is interrupted when a woman (Shinobu Terajima) washes up unconscious on the shore. Restored to health, the young woman is stung by one of the professor’s poisonous shellfish and unexpectedly cured of a rare disease. News about the shellfish’s healing power spreads quickly and soon everyone seeks out the professor’s cure, including his estranged son (Sosuke Ikematsu). Director Yoshifumi Tsubota delivers a hypnotically beautiful, impressionistic dream of a film that ponders the connection between man and nature. Featuring stunning location cinematography by Akiko Ashizawa and a spare, haunting score by Billy Martin (of Medeski Martin & Wood).

Being Good
Friday, July 22 at 6:30 pm
**New York Premiere
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Mipo O
Directed by Mipo O. With Kengo Kora, Machiko Ono, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazuya Takahashi, Michie Kita.

Suburban Hokkaido schoolteacher Tadashi (Kengo Kora) can barely make his pupils sit still, so when he suspects a student is being mistreated at home, he’s unsure of what to do. With her husband abroad, Masami (Machiko Ono) has taken on full-time parenting responsibilities, including punishing her daughter, a growing concern for her acquaintance Yoko (Chizuru Ikewaki). Accosted as a shoplifter after forgetting to pay for groceries, Akiko (Michie Kita) is elderly and alone when an autistic child may be in need of help. Based on Hatsue Nakawaki’s omnibus novel, these intertwining interventions may suggest a populist follow-up to Mipo O’s The Light Shines Only There, however Being Good is an even more harrowing drama, fearlessly gazing at generations of abuse, the precarious structures of Japanese society, and the glory and horror of taking responsibility for another’s life.

A Cappella
Friday, July 22 at 9:30 pm
**North American Premiere
**Featuring Intro with producer Risa Toyama
Directed by Hitoshi Yazaki. With Riko Narumi, Sosuke Ikematsu, Takumi Saito, Nina Endo, Wakana Matsumoto.

Radicalized amidst the countercultural movements of 1969, Sendai high schooler Kyoko goes from leading feminist interruptions of her school’s sexist uniform policies to helmeted protest actions. Bruised from a clash with riot police, Kyoko takes refuge in A Cappella, a serene coffee shop with baroque music played from records on request, where she meets bohemian college students Wataru and Yunosuke. The older aesthetes’ nihilism challenges her activist ideals, and she falls for Wataru. As Kyoko spends her days with Wataru, Yunosuke and his girlfriend Ema, this love square tumbles into an uncertain future of political conviction and sexual identity. A celebrated director of works of daring intimacy such as Strawberry Shortcakes (2006) and Sweet Little Lies (2010), Hitoshi Yazaki renders Mariko Koike’s novel with a nostalgia touched by erotic desperation and the imminent horror of our neoliberal present.

I Am a Monk
Saturday, July 23 at 12 pm
**New York Premiere
Directed by Yukinori Makabe. With Atsushi Ito, Mizuki Yamamoto, Junpei Mizobata, Gaku Hamada, Miyuki Matsuda.

After the sudden death of his grandfather, 24-year-old bookstore clerk Koen (Atsushi Ito) cautiously accepts his inherited role as abbot of the Eifuku-ji Temple in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture, 57th stop along Shikoku’s famous 88-temple pilgrimage. As he learns the ropes of monkhood — from memorizing ritual prayers to buying the right set of head clippers — the film offers an inside look at the day-to-day life of a monk (including after-hours drinking and baseball practice), humorously bringing to relief the relatable, earnest human beings behind the traditional robes and shaved heads. An often moving and poignant coming-of-age story, I Am a Monk uses Koen’s bumpy journey toward self-realization to ask universal questions about life’s purpose while ultimately leaving all possibilities open.

Ken and Kazu
Saturday, July 23 at 2 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Hiroshi Shoji. With Shinsuke Kato, Katsuya Maiguma, Kisetsu Fujiwara, Shuna Iijima, Haruki Takano.

The long-awaited feature film debut by newcomer Hiroshi Shoji based on his eponymous 2011 short. Ken (Shinsuke Kato) and Kazu (Katsuya Maiguma) are small-time drug dealers and partners in crime operating out of a car repair shop under the watchful eye of a local yakuza boss. When Ken’s girlfriend becomes pregnant he makes plans to go straight, but Kazu has other ideas. Working on a shoestring budget, director Shoji manages to deliver a thrilling jolt of realism to the often overfamiliar yakuza genre. He amplifies the intensity of the actors’ performances by shooting largely in close-up with tightly framed compositions, creating a nerve-wracking sense of danger and instability that is sustained from the film’s first punch to its final sigh.

The Artist of Fasting
Saturday, July 23 at 4:30 pm
**North American Premiere
**Video introduction with director Masao Adachi
Directed by Masao Adachi. With Hiroshi Yamamoto, Taizo Sakurai, Sho Ryuzanji, Shoichi Honda, Hiroko Ito.

After a decade-long hiatus, legendary filmmaker and political firebrand Masao Adachi returns with a characteristically transgressive, critical new film that adapts Kafka’s short story “The Hunger Artist” for the modern era. An anonymous man sits down in the middle of a shopping arcade and refuses to eat, speak or move. He is soon visited by a throng of onlookers who project their own meaning onto his assumed act of protest or claim to speak on his behalf. An absurdist satire that unfolds in episodic fashion with avant-garde interludes, Adachi’s film uses its fable-like narrative framework to approach controversial topics and historic atrocities while leaving room for ambiguity. Even well into his 70s, Adachi’s unique brand of political cinema remains as radical and confrontational as ever.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. 

Saturday, July 23 at 7 pm
**Special Sneak Preview
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Tatsuya Mori, moderated by filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda
Directed by Tatsuya Mori. With Mamoru Samuragochi, Takashi Niigaki, Tatsuya Mori.

Born to atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, Mamoru Samuragochi, a self-taught classical composer with a degenerative condition causing deafness, was celebrated as a “Japanese Beethoven” for the digital age. However, just prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, where Samuragochi’s Sonatina for Violin was to accompany figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, part-time university lecturer Takashi Niigaki revealed that he had served as the composer’s ghostwriter for 18 years, that Samuragochi couldn’t notate music and, in fact, could hear perfectly. As Samuragochi’s recordings were pulled and performances cancelled, Niigaki enjoyed success on TV talk shows. Filmmaker Tatsuya Mori finds Samuragochi holed up in his small Yokohama apartment with his wife and cat, ready to tell his side of the story. A mesmerizing character study skewering media duplicity and constructions of ability/disability, in which Samuragochi’s career has collapsed, taking fact and fiction with it.

Burst City
Saturday, July 23 at 10 pm
Directed by Gakuryu Ishii (as Sogo Ishii). With Machizo Machida, Michiro Endo, Shigeru Izumiya, Shigeru Muroi, Shinya Ohe.

Sogo (Gakuryu) Ishii’s hugely influential film kicked off the Japanese cyberpunk movement of the late 1980s by taking Mad Max’s futuristic, dystopian biker gang aesthetic and smashing it together with the frenetic energy and antiauthoritarian sneering of the contemporary Japanese punk scene while foregrounding a hyper-inventive, groundbreaking visual style heavy on fast cutting, alternating film speeds, and concert documentary shooting. The loose, frenzied plot revolving around a violent confrontation between several gangs of punk musicians, yakuza, bikers and cops over the attempted construction of a nuclear power plant quite literally erupts into an explosive finale. A peerless punk cinema manifesto, Burst City remains as vibrant today as it did when it roared new life into Japanese cinema over 30 years ago.

Flying Colors
Sunday, July 24 at 11:45 am
**New York Premiere
Directed by Nobuhiro Doi. With Kasumi Arimura, Atsushi Ito, Shuhei Nomura, Tetsushi Tanaka, Yo Yoshida.

This smash-hit comedic drama stars newcomer Kasumi Arimura as Sayaka, a ditzy high school material girl who is unexpectedly encouraged by an overly-optimistic and unconventional cram school teacher (Atsushi Ito) to apply for admission to one of the toughest universities in Japan—a prospect that her friends and family initially laugh off. Inspired to reach her goal and prove a point, Sayaka completely throws herself to the task at hand, burying herself in textbooks and sacrificing her social life along the way. Based on a true story, Nobuhiro Doi’s whip-smart direction effortlessly hits all the sweet spots in delivering what could easily be considered Japan’s winking response to Legally Blonde.

Kako: My Sullen Past
Sunday, July 24 at 2 pm
**North American Premiere
Directed by Shiro Maeda. With Kyoko Koizumi, Fumi Nikaido, Kengo Kora, Itsuji Itao, Mochika Yamada.

Ah, the wistful summers of near adulthood—or, for high schooler Kako (the ever-amazing Fumi Nikaido), drudging through the humid months of caring for her young niece at her family’s sleepy restaurant in Kitashinagawa, Tokyo. However that all changes when her aunt Mikiko (Kyoko Koizumi), thought to have died 18 years ago in an explosive accident, suddenly returns, bringing with her rumors of anti-government terrorist plots, international intrigue and maternal drama. A follow-up to The Extreme Sukiyaki by acclaimed playwright, novelist and screenwriter Shiro Maeda, winner of the 52nd Kishida Drama Award and 22nd Yukio Mishima Prize, Kako: My Sullen Past finds Maeda in full control of his cinematic instrument, channeling his characteristic dialogue and parodic cynicism through his wonderful cast and engrossing tale of radical politics and quotidian angst.

Sunday, July 24 at 4:30 pm
**World Premiere
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Kensaku Watanabe
Directed by Kensaku Watanabe. With Ryu Morioka, Tomoya Maeno, Haru Kuroki, Hirofumi Arai, Mari Yamachi.

Up-and-coming manzai stand-up comedy duo Emi-Abi has lost consummate funny man Unno (a surprisingly touching Tomoya Maeno) to an accident, leaving conceited straight man Jitsudo (Ryu Morioka) to contend with his diminished career prospects as a bland, pretty face entertainer. Guided by his manager Natsumi (Haru Kuroki), who demonstrates stronger comedy chops than her own star, Jitsudo comes to learn the circumstances of his friend’s passing, as well as the life-and-death stakes of a career in comedy. Demonstrating a careful balance of tone across tragedy and deadpan and gross-out humor, writer/director Kensaku Watanabe expands Emi-Abi‘s hilarious premise into a strikingly assured meditation on artistic rivalry and self-actualization.

JAPAN CUTS, Japan Society, NYC, Japan, films, film festivals, Japanese films, cinema

The Actor © “The Actor” Film Partners

Closing Film
The Actor
Sunday, July 24 at 7 pm
**North American Premiere
**Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Satoko Yokohama
Directed by Satoko Yokohama. With Ken Yasuda, Kumiko Aso, Shohei Uno, Hirofumi Arai, Shota Sometani.

Takuji Kameoka has made a career out of masterful performances for the silver screen and he would be a household name—if it weren’t for the fact that his filmography consists entirely of bit parts. As the prospect of a breakout role in a foreign arthouse director’s newest work appears, so too does the possibility of winning the heart of izakaya owner Azumi Murota. In her hotly anticipated follow-up to the breakout Bare Essence of Life (aka Ultra Miracle Love Story), director Satoko Yokohama adapts Akito Inui’s original novel, crafting this quietly daring tribute to the workaday human magic underlying the gleam of cinema. Ken Yasuda, known for TEAM NACS and many voice performances for Studio Ghibli, is irresistible in the film’s title role, while Yokohama regular Kumiko Aso shines just as brightly.

Tickets are $14/$11 seniors and students/$10 Japan Society members. $20/$17/$15 for the July 14 screening of Mohican Comes Home and July 21 screening of The Shell Collector including after parties. Purchase tickets for at least 5 different films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket. Offer available only at Japan Society box office or by telephone at 212-715-1258 and is not available online and not valid for the July 14 screening of Mohican Comes Home and July 21 screening of The Shell Collector.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Japan Society’s website.