EXCLUSIVE: North America’s largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema, Japan Cuts, has selected 30 features and 12 shorts for a 2020 edition that will take place entirely online due to continued corona disruption.
Running July 17-30, the traditionally New York-based event will instead be available across the country via a digital platform set up in partnership with Festival Scope and Shift72. Films will be made available to rent with a limited number or virtual tickets per title, priced at $2–$7 with discounted bundles.
Alongside screenings, there will also be virtual Q&As, discussion panels, and video introductions from filmmakers in a bid to maintain the festival’s sense of community and dedication to intercultural communication.
The fest will kick off with a live virtual Q&A with Shinichiro Ueda, director of opening film selection Special Actors, the follow-up to Ueda’s popular breakout debut One Cut of the Dead. The festival’s Centerpiece Presentation is the online premiere of Fukushima 50, a blockbuster drama that details the heroic actions of workers at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The film’s two leads, Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe, are the dual recipients of this year’s Cut Above Award, the festival’s annual prize recognizing outstanding achievement in Japanese cinema.
The event will also celebrate the legacy of trailblazing filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi, who passed away in April this year at the age of 82. Despite being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016 and given six months to live, Obayashi completed two further anti-war films including Labyrinth of Cinema, his final film and included in this year’s Feature Slate lineup.
“Like viewers in Japan and the U.S., our programming team has loved Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe’s work for many years, which includes outstanding roles in both Japanese and international cinema,” said K. F. Watanabe, Deputy Director of Film at Japan Society, who organizes the festival with Japan Society Film Associate Amber Noé and Joel Neville Anderson. “We were pleased to see them reunite to commemorate the events of 3/11, and are happy to honor their dedication to telling hard truths and crossing borders during today’s moment of crisis. Though we cannot physically present these deserved awards to them in person, we are excited by their virtual participation and look forward to finding a future opportunity to welcome them to Japan Society.”
Here’s the list of selected features (everything over 60 minutes):
Beyond the Night, Dir. Natsuki Nakagawa, 2019
Book-Paper-Scissors, Dir. Nanako Hirose, 2019
Cenote, Dir. Kaori Oda, 2019
Extro, Dir. Naoki Murahashi, 2019
Fukushima 50, Dir. Setsuro Wakamatsu, 2020
i -Documentary of the Journalist, Dir. Tatsuya Mori, 2019
It Feels So Good, Dir. Haruhiko Arai, 2019
Kinta & Ginji, Dir. Takuya Dairiki and Takashi Miura, 2019
Kontora, Dir. Anshul Chauhan, 2019
Labyrinth Of Cinema, Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 2019
Life: Untitled, Dir. Kana Yamada, 2019
Mrs. Noisy, Dir. Chihiro Amano, 2019
My Identity, Dir. Sae Suzuki, 2019
My Sweet Grappa Remedies, Dir. Akiko Ohku, 2019
On-Gaku: Our Sound, Dir. Kenji Iwaisawa, 2020
Prison Circle, Dir. Kaori Sakagami, 2020
Reiwa Uprising, Dir. Kazuo Hara, 2019
Roar, Dir. Ryo Katayama, 2020
Sacrifice, Dir. Taku Tsuboi, 2019
Seijo Story: 60 Years Of Making Films, Dir. Isshin Inudo and Eiki Takahashi, 2019
Sending Off, Dir. Ian Thomas Ash, 2019
Shell And Joint, Dir. by Isamu Hirabayashi, 2019
Special Actors, Dir. Shinichiro Ueda, 2019
The Murders Of Oiso, Dir. Takuya Misawa, 2019
Tora-san, Our Lovable Tramp (4K restoration), Dir. Yoji Yamada, 1969
Tora-san Meets the Songstress Again (4K restoration), Dir. Yoji Yamada, 1975
Tora-san, My Uncle (4K restoration), Dir. Yoji Yamada, 1989
Tora-san, Wish You Were Here, Dir. Yoji Yamada, 2019
Voices in the Wind, Dir. Nobuhiro Suwa, 2020
What Can You Do About It?, Dir. Yoshifumi Tsubota, 2019
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