by Chris MaGee
Well, the anticipation has been building for the past few weeks (and so has the mountain of work), but now I am very proud to announce the full line-up and screening schedule for the 2nd annual Shinsedai Cinema Festival taking place at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. As many of you already know this is a fest that was started by author and Midnight Eye co-founder Jasper Sharp, and it's our mandate to highlight new, young, and independent filmmaker coming from Japan. Joining the already announced screenings of Kenji Mizoguchi's silent classic (and independently produced) "The Water Magician" (with live musical accompaniment by Toronto's Vowls), the Canadian Premiere of Gen Takahashi's police epic "Confessions of a Dog" and the Toronto Premiere of the ward-winning concert documentary "Live Tape" are:
KAKERA: A PIECE OF OUR LIFE (Toronto Premiere/ Opening Night Film): Haru (Hikari Mitsushima) is a university student with a less than ideal boyfriend whose life is turned upside down after meeting a young woman named Riko (Eriko Nakamura). the two women fall for each otehr and embark on a rocky and romantic relationship. First time director Momoko Ando goes well beyond tired old lesbian chic with this magical and absurdly comic film. We are pleased to announce that director Momoko Ando will be in attendance at this screening!
YURIKO'S AROMA (Canadian Premiere/ Closing Night Film): Massage therapist Yuriko (Noriko Eguchi) is a master of scent. She whips up aromatherapy lotions to slather into her clients at her friends massage spa, but Yuriko isn't prepared when she catches a whiff of the the salon owner's sweaty 17-year-old soccer-playing nephew Takeshi (Shota Someya) and is immediately overcome with desire... or love... or possibly both in this sexy black comedy by Koya Yoshida.
A NORMAL LIFE, PLEASE! (North American Premiere): 37-year-old cement truck driver Nobukazu Kaikura kept up a hellish work schedule during the spring of 2006 - 552 hours in a single month. When Kaikura seeks the protection of a labour union he incurs the wrath of his bosses and the thugs they hire to intimidate Kaikura and his family day and night. Tokachi Tsuchiya's A Normal Life, Please! has won Best Documentary at the 2009 Dubai International Film Festival, and Best Documentary at the 17th annual Raindance Film Festival in London.
OUR BRIEF ETERNITY (Canadian Premiere): A mysterious virus is infecting the population in Takuya Fukushima's Our Brief Eternity. Those afflicted suddenly fall into a coma and when they recover they have lost their memories of the person closest and dearest to them. During this epidemic irresponsible playboy Teru (Kouta Kusano) runs into his old girlfriend Mio (Romi), but she doesn't remember him. Mio has fallen victim to the virus. The two must start their relationship from scratch, but Teru's case of cold feet causes him to make a drastic decision - to risk infection and his memory.
LOCKED OUT (Canadian Premiere): Six-year-old Ketia (Takeru Shimada) gets lost in a mall parking lot and accidentally gets into the car of a young man named Hiroshi (Kiichi Sonobe). Hiroshi has a bloody pick axe in the trunk of his car and is haunted by a violent, demonic doppelgänger, but is he what he appears to be - a psychotic killer, or is there a different story to be told? Yasunobu Takahashi's Locked Out is equal parts edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller and life affirming road movie.
OFF HIGHWAY 20 (Canadian Premiere): Route 20 is a highway that runs west out of Tokyo as far Shiojiri in Nagano. About 130 kilometres from the highway's starting point is Kofu City. This is the birth place of director Katsuya Tomita and his film Off Highway 20 shows us a side of Japan that many people never see one populated by yakuza, small time street thugs who huff solvents, gambling addicts and speed freaks. Gritty and blackly comic like Jim Jarmusch crossed with Trainspotting, Off Highway 20 takes us on a walk on the wild side of contemporary Japan.
KIHACHIRO KAWAMOTO: JAPAN'S MASTER PUPPETEER: Born in 1925 in Tokyo Kihachiro Kawamoto orginally wanted to pursue a career in architecture while taking up doll-making as a hobby, but in 1950 he embarked on what is now a legendary career in animation. Kawamoto has spent the last five plus decades creating exquisite stop-motion puppet animation that has won him praise worldwide. In a special programme curated by Jasper Sharp audiences will get to see a sampling of some of Kawamoto's best known short films including 1970's The Demon, 1973's The Trip, 1976's Dojoji Temple, 1979's House of Flame, 1988's To Shoot Without Shooting and 1990's Briar-Rose, or the Sleeping Beauty.
OH! OTSUKA DRUGSTORE: (Canadian Premiere): An off kilter comedy about a curmudgeonly woman who runs a drugstore and one of her regular customers - young high school girl she takes under her wing. It turns out this girl has a crush on a certain boy but is too shy to make the leap and speak to him. Can the drugstore owner help her young friend find true love? And if so will her crazy methods actually work? Romantic comedy meets bizarre friendship tale, and all set to music by Japanese pop sensation AKB48.
DOME ANIMATION SPECIAL: (Presented in partnership with Nippon Connection) Tokyo's Image Forum is the most respected producer of experimental film, video and animation in Japan, as well as one of the most important sources for experimental visual culture in the world. DOME Animation collects 15 short animated films by 15 of Image Forum's most promising young animators.
NN-891102 (Toronto Premiere): A survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki has in his possession an astounding document of that tragic day –the sound of the "Fat Man" atomic bomb detonating on August 9th, 1945 at 11:02AM. At first he is appalled by this recording, but as time goes by he becomes obsessed with recreating this terrifying sound… a process that will jeopardize his sanity and his life. The debut feature film by Late Bloomer and Doman Seman director Osaka’s Go Shibata presents a gripping portrait of grief, memory, madness, and dangerous personal obsession.
If those films aren't enough to get you excited the Shinsedai Cinema Festival is also proud to announce a great selection of shorts that will be screening with our feature selections: sugarmountain's zany "Gunman Champion", Satoshi Nagano's black comedy "Finishing Touch", Shoh Kataoka's sweet look at childhood "Jellyfish Boy", Reiko Tahara's experimental short documentary "Remnants", Kotaru Wajima's mini-family drama, "Invitation" and Hiroshi Iwanaga's meditative coming-of-age story "That's All".
Tickets and passes for Shinsedai 2010 go on sale this coming Wednesday, June 23rd, so to get additional details on the fest an how you can see all of these great films just head over to the official site