April 16, 2024

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme, the U.K.’s largest festival of Japanese cinema, will take to the road in February and March. Its 2024 selection is the event’s largest ever with much of it attuned to the theme of memories, times and reflections.

“The JFTFP24 delves into Japanese cinema to explore how memories are employed in the cinematic voices of Japanese filmmakers, from films where memories are a focal point to works where they play a subliminal role in driving or affecting people’s minds and behavior,” said organizers.

The festival will run Feb. 2 – Mar. 31 and take in 30 U.K. cities including Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford, Orkney, Exeter and York.

Program highlights include: the U.K. premiere of “Shadow of Fire,” directed by festival favorite Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man); a new entry in Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno genre, “Hand”; visually stunning anime “Lonely Castle in the Mirror,” and Kei Ishikawa’s “A Man.”

Director Maeda Tetsu will be on hand to present his topical care home mystery “Do Unto Others.” So too, will Chihara Tetsuya, director of a quartet of vibrant and visually engaging generational women’s stories in “Ice Cream Fever.”

Suwa Nobuhiro explores the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in heartfelt drama “Voices in the Wind.”

Directed by Matsumoto Yusaku and based on real events, “Winny,” is the retelling of the story behind the peer-to-peer file-sharing program which became the software of choice for online piracy in Japan in 2002 and led to the arrest and trial of programmer Kaneko Isamu

Other titles include classic from the Golden Age of Japanese cinema Kinoshita Keisuke’s “The Snow Flurry,” Jojo Hideo’s latest “Twilight Cinema Blues,” which focuses on the crises facing independent cinemas in a post-pandemic world; “The Zen Diary,” from Nakae Yuji, which is based on an essay about food and cooking by leading Japanese author Mizukami Tsutomu.

In the fantasy, sci-fi and horror genre, selections include Hara Keiichi’s “Lonely Castle in the Mirror,” about a lonely teacher who finds a new world of challenges; time-loop story “Mondays: See You ‘This’ Week!,” by Takebayashi Ryo; time-travel tale “From the End of the World”; and J-horror director Nakamura Yoshihiro’s horror-mystery “The Inerasable.”

Women’s stories on the program include sharply observed human drama “Thousand and One Nights,” by Kubota Nao; Toyoda Tetsuya’s manga adaptation about a disappearing husband, “Undercurrent,” directed by Imaizumi Rikiya; Ogigami Naoko’s “Ripples”; Kumakiri Kazuyoshi ‘s tale of a recluse “YOKO” starring Kikuchi Rinko; and “The Lump in My Heart,” by Matsumura Shingo, which examines the bonds of a mother-daughter relationship.

Kanazawa Tomoki’s directorial debut “Sabakan” is a bittersweet, nostalgic tale set during the summer of 1986 and sees a young boy and his friend embark on an adventure to a nearby island, unaware that their childhood innocence is soon to be shattered.

Okita Shuichi’s “The Fish Tale” is a similarly heartfelt coming-of-age tale is based on the autobiography of Sakana-kun, a Japanese TV personality well-known for his extensive knowledge of fish.

“Hit Me Anyone One More Time” is a comic satire from comedy director Mitani Koki and tells the story of the widely-despised fictional Prime Minister of Japan, who seeks a political comeback.
“Hoarder on the Border,” directed by Kayano Takayuki, is presented in an omnibus-style format featuring multiple interconnected narratives revolving around Ritsuki, a man with a very specialized cleaning team.

Directed by Matsunaga Daishi, “Egoist” is a touching LGBTQ+ drama about a man who has gone from rural shyness to confidant fashion editor, but whose relationship endures an unexpected twist.

The program also includes “The Snow Flurry,” a 1959 retrospective title from one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers, Kinoshita Keisuke (“The Ballad of Narayama,” “Twenty-Four Eyes”). The non-linear story-telling depicts a family melodrama that hinges on a failed double suicide attempt.

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