Japan Cuts Unleashes Their 2013 Line Up!

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
While this summer's asian cinema diet for NYCers is ample enough with the New York Asian Film Festival, one cannot forget their partner-in-crime at Japan Society and the concurrent awesomeness that is Japan Cuts. Entering its seventh year, Japan Cuts has proven to be the far more fascinating fest for me to explore as it continues to be the premiere U.S. platform for presenting the most diverse and interesting films coming out of Japan at the moment. There's going to be something for everyone with a taste for Japan, and/or cinema. The kid in me is keen on samurai fantasy The Floating Castle. The anthropologist in me is curious about the 80s economic-boom-to-burst-to-beyond flick A Story Of Yonosuke. So dive in and take a look. And remember, come July 11th, keep your peepers on Twitch for reviews direct from the fest!

JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

 

July 11-21, 2013, at Japan Society

 

New York, NY --The JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema returns for its seventh season, with 10 days of screenings and over 20 titles. JAPAN CUTS 2013 presents the roughest, sharpest, and smoothest of today's cutting-edge Japanese film scene, encompassing bigger-than-life blockbusters, high-concept art house titles, moving and provoking documentaries, delirious rom-coms, refined melodramas and a handful of UFOs--unidentified film objects. Featuring appearances by several special guest filmmakers, JAPAN CUTS 2013 kicks off July 11 with a blowout opening night party and runs through July 21, screening 25 titles, all of which are a mix of New York, U.S. and International premieres. The festival again dovetails with the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which co-presents 12 films of the JAPAN CUTS lineup July 11-14.

From the deep to the deeply depraved, the fantastic to the fetishistic, the outstanding to the outrageous, JAPAN CUTS 2013 selections have the typical blend of unbending artistry and rebellious eccentricity that has come to exemplify the festival. Hard, rough, sharp, smooth and soft-edged: such is today's film scene from Japan. Highlights include the smash-hit samurai blockbuster Rurouni Kenshin; Toshiaki Toyoda's bloody, trippy, return-to-roots gangster thriller I'M FLASH!; the star-studded road drama Dearest, a formidable shrine to film legend Ken Takakura; Yuichi Fukuda's off-the-wall pervy twist to the superhero genre, Hentai Kamen: The Forbidden Superhero; the dark, controversial sex-thriller, A Woman and War, in the vein of the late Koji Wakamatsu's best films; Satoshi Miki's mind-warping, bizarre, Spike Jonze-esque It's Me, It's Me (featuring pop star Kazuya Kamenashi of KAT-TUN);  Eiki Takahashi's absorbing glimpse into the glitzy world of Japanese pop music,  DOCUMENTARY OF AKB48 No flower without rain; the North American premiere of Sion Sono's 20-years-in-the-making underground science-fiction/gangster film Bad Film; the winner of the 36th Japan Academy Prize for Best Picture and Best Director, The Kirishima Thing; plus the new film from the wildly prolific auteur Takashi Miike, the psycho killer-teacher horror film Lesson of the Evil, a return to the director's signature gonzo schlockmeister approach.

"In contrast with the past few years, the selection of titles for JAPAN CUTS is much leaner, and more focused on art house productions and film oddities, though there is still a number of 'mainstream' crowd-pleasers in the lineup and variety is still crucial in the choice of films," says Japan Society's chief film programmer Samuel Jamier, curating his fourth consecutive festival. "Rather than a 'best-of' list, this year's crop brings a block of dark matter, and provides an unblinking look at the dark side of Japan, revealing a culture in flux and in crisis, grappling with a vast number of specific and seemingly unsolvable social issues--aging population, hyper-consumerism, etc.--and a continuous struggle to come to terms with the historical past, while addressing universal themes and issues of loneliness and helplessness."

This year's party will be the I'M FLASH! / JAPAN CUTS Opening Party, following the July 11 screening of I'M FLASH! with an intro and Q&A with wild boy director and Japan Cuts favorite Toshiaki Toyoda. Other special guests during the festival are surreal hit comedy It's Me, It's Me director Satoshi Miki for the July 13 screening intro and Q&A; director Regge Life, who helmed a rarely seen, moving post-3/11 documentary The Taylor Anderson Story; and director Junichi Inoue, the man behind the anti-fascist erotic shocker A Woman and War, will participate in an introduction and Q&A.

Tickets: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students, except for the July 11 screening I'M FLASH!, $15/$12, including after party. Patrons who purchase more than 5 tickets for at least 5 different films receive $2 off of each ticket (this special offer is available only at the Japan Society Box Office or by telephone, not with online purchases, and is not valid for the July 11 screening of I'M FLASH!) Tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at www.japansociety.org. The box office will be closed July 4-7 in observance of the July 4th holiday weekend.

 

JAPAN CUTS 2013 SCREENINGS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles unless otherwise noted. 

Bad Film

Friday, July 12 at 6 pm

**North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 1995. 161 min. HD CAM, in Japanese and Mandarin with English subtitles. Directed by Sion Sono.

In 1995, director Sion Sono and the performance collective Tokyo GAGAGA made this massive underground science fiction film about a gang war in Tokyo. They shot over 150 hours of footage but ran out of money during post-production. Now, almost 20 years later, Sono has finally finished the film. In an alternate history, 1997 Tokyo is a gangland war zone, divided between feuding factions from the Chinese Baihubang and the Japanese Kamikaze. The Kamikaze prowl the streets in a campaign bus, spewing vitriol from a loudspeaker. Their leader is a bald lunatic whose only abiding passion is for a severed pig's head he keeps in a plastic bag. The hyperactive narrator tells us that ancient race hatred is the war's driving force. But when one Kamikaze girl meets a beautiful Chinese junk dealer, a lesbian Romeo & Juliet story blossoms. Soon they and the other self-described closeted queers, freaks, and cripples of the rival gangs band together to form a more perfect, omnisexual union. The day of destiny is fast approaching, and it appears that the years of old grudges and mutually assured destruction are at an end. Nothing could be stronger than love. Except hate.

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

The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky (Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita)

Saturday, July 20 at 4:00 pm

**U.S. Premiere

Japan. 2012. 141min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles, Directed by Yuki Tanada. With Kento Nagayama, Tomoko Tabata, Mieko Harada, Masataka Kubota, Takahiro Miura, Ena Koshino, Miharu Tanaka, Gin Pun Chou, Aki Kajiwara.

Life is about to take a drastic turn for Anzu (Tomoko Tabata), a typical bored housewife who desperately tries to have a baby to resurrect her dying marriage and appease a less-than-amiable mother-in-law. A random encounter with high school boy Takumi (Kento Nagayama) at an event for anime fans leads to torrid sex and a deliciously illicit affair at the conjugal home. Her husband begins to notice and soon, a video of the adulterous couple finds its way onto the internet. Hilarity does not ensue.

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

Dearest (Anata e)

Sunday, July 21 at 5:30 pm

**U.S. Premiere

Japan. 2012. 111 min. 35 mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yasuo Furuhata. With Ken Takakura, Yuko Tanaka, Koichi Sato, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kimiko Yo, Haruka Ayase.

Ken Takakura's 205th film is a solemn and sublimely sober road movie featuring an all-star cast that includes "Beat" Takeshi Kitano and Tadanobu Asano, among other heavyweights of the acting world. The last star of the golden age of the studio era, now an octogenarian, Takakura plays Eiji Kurashima, an elderly counselor at a prison in Toyama, a prefecture on the Japan Sea coast. His wife, Yoko (Yuko Tanaka), recently died of cancer at the age 53, leaving him with an illustrated card asking him to scatter her ashes in the harbor of the small Kyushu port where she was raised. Kurashima is puzzled by this request since she never mentioned it while she was alive, or said anything about her family for that matter, but he loads up his mini-van with supplies, as well as wooden furnishings he has handcrafted, and hits the road alone for Kyushu.

DOCUMENTARY OF AKB48 No flower without rain (Documentary of AKB48 Shojotachi wa Namida no Ato ni Nani o Miru?)

Saturday, July 20 at 1:00 pm

**North American Premiere

Japan. 2013. 128 min. HD Cam, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Eiki Takahashi.With AKB48.

A fascinating peek into the world below the glitzy surface of Japanese pop music, this documentary shows the inner workings of Japan's most popular pop band, as the group parts ways with their star member Atsuko Maeda (a departure that's euphemistically called a "graduation"). The other members are shaken and a fierce fight for center position takes place, with the girls navigating popularity gaps between members, as well as dealing with a clause that prevents them from dating. 

Preceded by:

Kick-Heart (Kikku Hato)

**East Coast Premiere, Introduced by Producer Justin Leach

Japan. 2013. 12 min. BD, in Japanese with English subtitles.

Produced through crowd funding via Kickstarter, this madness-filled short film by Masaaki Yuasa, the creator of Mind Game, is a love story involving a pro-wrestler and a nun, both with a secret to hide. Their encounter in the ring sparks. Selected for the Short Film Competition for the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

 

Dreams for Sale (Yume Uru Futari)

Saturday, July 13 at 3:45 pm

**New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 2012. 137 min. 35 mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Miwa Nishikawa. With Takako Matsu, Sadao Abe, Rena Tanaka, Sawa Suzuki, Tamae Ando.

When Satoko and Kanya's restaurant burns to the ground and they find themselves in dire straits, they don't just give up, they get married--but not to each other. Despite his rather "average" looks, Kanya has a preternatural talent for romancing women, a skill that turns out to be an unorthodox but invaluable source of revenue. With Satoko's able assistance in scoping out potential prey, they begin promising matrimony to lonely ladies before scamming them out of all their cash. As they tear through Japan's entire population of lonely hearts, things begin to take a toll on their own marriage and their very souls. 

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

The Floating Castle (Nobo no Shiro) - CLOSING FILM

Sunday, July 21 at 8:00 pm

**U.S. Premiere

Japan. 2012. 144 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinji Higuchi and Isshin Inudo. With Mansai Nomura, Nana Eikura, Hiroki Narimiya, Tomomitsu Yamaguchi, Koichi Sato.

In the year 1590, the mighty warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi is close to fulfilling his ambition of unifying all of Japan under his banner when he comes across unexpected resistance in the form of a floating fortress known as Oshi Castle. Narita Nagachika, a frivolous hedonistic fellow and unlikely candidate for the position of rebel general, finds himself in charge of defending the castle. His odds? An army of 500 men to combat Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army of 20,000. 

Fly with the Gold (Ogon wo Daite Tobe)

Saturday, July 20 at 7:00 pm

**U.S. Premiere

Japan. 2012. 129 min., HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kazuyuki Izutsu. With Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tadanobu Asano, Shim Chang-Min, Kenta Kiritani, Junpei Mizobata, Toshiyuki Nishida.

This slow-burn bank heist drama is set afire by its stellar cast. Kota (Satoshi Tsumabuki) hears about an impending ¥1.5 billion gold bar job from his friend Kitagawa (Tadanobu Asano) and decides to take part. The gold bars sit in the basement of the HQ of Sumita Bank. Helping Kota and Kitagawa are bank security employee Noda (Kenta Kiritani), a North Korean spy pretending to be a college student (Shim Chang-Min), Kitagawa's younger brother Haruki (Junpei Mizobata), and a former elevator engineer (Toshiyuki Nishida). These six men attempt to carry the boldest of schemes to bypass the bank's high-tech defense system.

Helter Skelter (Heruta Sukeruta)

Sunday, July 13 at 9:30pm

**New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 2012. 127 min. 35 mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Mika Ninagawa. With Erika Sawajiri, Nao Omori, Shinobu Terajima, Gou Ayano, Kiko Mizuhara.

Japan's hugely influential, hyper fashion-forward photographer Mika Ninagawa and its most controversial young star, Erika Sawajiri, team up to deliver a plastic surgery horror movie that'll make everyone's skin crawl. Lilico (Erika Sawajiri) is a monstrous Lady Gaga-esque celebrity--a singer and actress obsessed with her own young sexy self, eating up employees, and existing on a diet of flashbulbs. Almost entirely surgically enhanced, she requires occasional "top ups", but now they're not working anymore. Her face and body are slowly turning as black and rotten as bruised fruit and her sanity is leaching away from her dysfunctional, surgically enhanced mortal coil. 

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

Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Super Hero (Hentai Kamen)

Friday, July 12 at 9:00 pm

**North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 2013. 105 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuichi Fukuda. With Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Tsuyoshi Muro, Ken Yasuda, Nana Katase.

Kyosuke (Ryuhei Suzuki) is the best member of his high school martial arts club, but when he indulges in his passion for wearing women's underwear he becomes the panty-masked superhero Hentai Kamen. Based on a wildly popular manga series, Hentai Kamen may not be the hero we deserve, but he's the hero we need. 

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

I'M FLASH! - OPENING FILM

Thursday, July 11 at 8:30 pm

**U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

**Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Toshiaki Toyoda, Followed by I'M FLASH OPENING PARTY

Japan. 2012. 91 min. 35 mm, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda. With Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kiko Mizuhara, Shigeru Nakano, Kento Nagayama.

Wild boy director Toshiaki Toyoda has been a NYAFF and JAPAN CUTS favorite, releasing UFOs (unidentified film objects) like his minimalist samurai arthouse experiment, Blood of Rebirth, and his semi-abstract Unabomber biopic, Monsters' Club. Now he returns to his pulp roots and finds full-blown glory with a sun-drenched gangster thriller that exists somewhere between early Takeshi Kitano (on a few pounds of opium), and a diurnal version of Winding Refn's Drive. Donning a rockstar suntan and obscenely healthy good looks, Tatsuya Fujiwara (whose Battle Royale pretty boy looks have weathered into a manlier presence) plays Rui Yoshino, the charismatic celebrity leader of a lucrative religious sect calling itself "Life is Beautiful". Life is indeed beautiful for the cocky cult leader. Famous, fast-talking, and filthy rich, his many followers (particularly the female ones) treat him as a role model, escape route, and god. One hot night, he picks up a young woman named Rumi (Kiko Mizuhara), and takes her out on a drunken drive that turns out to be less of a cruise to short-term earthly pleasures than a fateful ride into the unknown. They crash the fancy sports car, kill a motorcyclist, leave Rumi in a coma, and Rui in deep trouble. The young guru miraculously escapes physically unscathed, but during that brief ride some kind of restlessness has stirred within his soul. And that's when events start to spin out of control.

I Have to Buy New Shoes (Atarashii Kutsu wo Kawanakucha)

Thurday, July 18 at 6:30 pm

**U.S. Premiere

Japan. 2012. 115 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Eriko Kitagawa. With Miho Nakayama, Osamu Mukai, Mirei Kiritani, Gou Ayano, Amanda Plummer.

A uniquely moving, romance set in France in the vein of Shunji Iwai and Richard Linklater. Freelance writer Aoi Teshigahara (Miho Nakayama) lives in Paris. Sen Yagami (Osamu Mukai) is a photographer who comes to the city due to his younger sister Suzume's (Mirei Kiritani) insistence. Over three days, Aoi Teshigahara and Sen Yagami find the way to each other's hearts, but will it cure their loneliness or wound them forever? 

It's Me, It's Me (Ore-Ore)

Saturday, July 13 at 6:30 pm

**North American Premiere, Introduction and Q&A with Director Satoshi Miki

Japan. 2013. 123 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Satoshi Miki. With Kazuya Kamenashi, Yuki Uchida, Ryo Kase, Midoriko Kimura, Keiko Takahashi.

Somewhere between Magritte, Kafka, Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, Satoshi Miki's (dir. Adrift In Tokyo) surrealist tale of Hitoshi, a young electronics store clerk with a case of multiple personality disorder (played by pop star Kazuya Kamenashi of the band KAT-TUN) boldly goes where no black comedy has gone before. After picking up a cellphone left behind by a customer, he undertakes a popular scam: he calls the person's mother and with the open-sesame magic formula "It's me! It's me!" poses as her son, easily talking the mom into transferring cash to his own depleted bank account. Soon, Hitoshi gets not just a lot more money, but a new mum, and a new "me," in the person of a doppelganger. But soon he proliferates until the whole city becomes a walking metropolis of hims. Which is fine for the egotistic young man... until they start killing each other.

Japan's Tragedy (Nihon no Higeki)

Sunday, July 21 at 3:30 pm

**North American Premiere

Japan. 2012. 101 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Masahiro Kobayashi. With Tatsuya Nakadai, Kazuki Kitamura, Akemi Omori, Shinobu Terajima.

A black pearl of a drama that shares its title and focus with Keisuke Kinoshita's 1953 masterpiece, Japan's Tragedy takes place in October 2011, in Kanamachi, Tokyo. In black-and-white interiors, behind thin wooden sliding doors with rice-paper windows, a father (played by legendary actor Tatsuya Nakadai (Kagemusha, Ran) and his son (Kazuki Kitamura) are at war with death and despair. The father is a retired widower who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer on the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. Refusing all treatment, he nails shut access to his room and decides to wither away and die by the altar for his deceased wife. The son, who lost his wife and daughter in the tsunami along with his job and most of his money, pleads with him ever more desperately. Dedicated to the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and to the 31,560 people who committed suicide in Japan in 2010, the film is based on actual events that happened to a "certain Japanese family" in Tokyo in 2010, and asks the question, "What do we actually need to live?" 

The Kirishima Thing (Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo)

Sunday, July 14 at 7:30pm

**New York Premiere

Japan, 2012. 103 min. 35mm, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Daihachi Yoshida. With Ryunosuke Kamiki, Ai Hashimoto, Suzuka Ohgo, Masahiro Higashide, Kurumi Shimizu, Mizuki Yamamoto.

When a star athlete and all-around golden boy drops out of the volleyball team and vanishes, all the hidden power struggles, class warfare, social angst and general life drama of the entire high school emerge. Based on the bestselling novel by Ryo Asai, The Kirishima Thing is a dissection of a ruptured social nervous system. Like Rashomon staged at The Breakfast Club, its cosmic cinematic microscope sweeps across all of the institutionalized cliques we've all found at every school anywhere in the world: jocks and their kept girls, band geeks who agonize over a single note out of tune, AV nerds who just want to make zero-budget zombie movies and watch Tetsuo: The Iron Man all day. They all had their places, and they all knew their roles, but in a culture of conformity, even the slightest, quietest ripple in the pond threatens to explode their miniature universe. Winner Best Picture and Best Director, The 36th Japan Academy Prize.

Lesson of the Evil (Aku no Kyoten)

Thursday, July 11 at 6:00 pm

**New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 2012. 128 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Takashi Miike. With Hideaki Ito, Takayuki Yamada, Takehiro Hira, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Shota Sometani.

After years of making restrained commission studio works like Hara Kiri, and getting invited to Cannes and treated like a respectable adult, Japan's cinematic wild man Takashi Miike returns to form. Based on a bestselling horror novel, clean cut pop star Hideaki Ito plays Mr. Hasumi, a young, popular, good-looking teacher at an elite high school. Beloved by his students and popular with pretty much everyone, it turns out Mr. Hasumi is actually a teacher of evil with a fondness for killing.

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


Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story

Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 pm

**New York Premiere, Introduction and Q&A with Director Regge Life

USA, 2012. 85 min. BD, Directed by Regge Life.

This remarkable first documentary offers a glimpse into the life of Taylor Anderson, a young American woman who dedicated herself to teaching Japanese children. Through in-depth personal accounts from her loved ones--laced with emotional recollections, moving photographs and home movies--a wonderful tapestry emerges that encompasses her incredible existence up to her untimely end at age 24 caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. In light of the tragedy, the film sends a message of hope for all who follow their hearts. 

The Ravine of Goodbye (Sayonara Keikoku)

Friday, July 19 at 7:00 pm

**North American Premiere

Japan. 2013. 117 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tatsushi Omori. With Yoko Maki, Shima Onishi, Nao Omori, Anne Suzuki, Jyo Hyuga, Arata, Hirofumi Arai.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Shuichi Yoshida. The body of a child is found near the house of a seemingly ordinary couple: Shunsuke (Shima Onishi, the limbless soldier in Caterpillar) and Kanako Ozaki (star actress Yoko Maki). The baby's mother Satomi Tachibana (Anne Suzuki) is arrested as the prime suspect, but it doesn't take long for the police to consider Shunsuke a person of interest: Satomi claims she was having an affair with him. Looking into the case, weekly tabloid reporter Watanabe (Nao Omori) discovers another shocking crime in Shunsuke's past. Selection of the Moscow IFF Competition.

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

 Rurouni Kenshin

Sunday, July 14 at 2:30 pm

**New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 2012. 134 min. 35 mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Keishi Otomo. With Takeru Satoh, Emi Takei, Koji Kikkawa, Yu Aoi, Munetaka Aoki.

Japan's number one box office hit of the year--and one hell of a sword fight movie--this live action adaptation of a manga about a Meiji era assassin who leaves his life behind to become a protector of the common people. The story has sold 55 million copies as a manga and spawned several wildly popular animated adaptations.

The Samurai That Night (Sono Yoru no Samurai)

Sunday, July 21 at 1:00 pm

**U.S. Premiere

Japan. 2012. 119 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Masaaki Akahori. With Masato Sakai, Takayuki Yamada, Hirofumi Arai, Gou Ayano, Maki Sakai, Tomorowo Taguchi, Mitsuki Tanimura, Tsutomu Takahashi, Kinuwo Yamada, Sakura Ando.

The titular samurai may not have a sword or armor, but his connection with death is no less deep. Introverted, bespectacled iron foundry manager Nakamura (Masato Sakai) has been living his life as though he were already dead, since his wife was killed five years ago. He deals with her death by obsessively replaying the last message she left on his answering machine, in which she scolded him for eating too much custard. Fresh out of jail, the perpetrator, a brutal young man named Kijima (Takayuki Yamada, the lead of Milocrorze and one of Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins), returns to his habits of behaving badly until anonymous letters arrive, promising "to kill him and then myself" on the anniversary of the crime. Could the bereft, half-shattered ironworks man truly be capable of fulfilling such vengeance? 

A Story of Yonosuke (Yokomichi Yonosuke)

Saturday, July 13 at 12:30 pm

**North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan, 2012, 160 min. BD, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shuichi Okita. With Kengo Kora, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Sosuke Ikematsu, Ayumi Ito, Gou Ayano.

Yonosuke arrives at university in the late 1980s when Japan is booming and the economy is raining cash. Naive and hopelessly self-confident, he comes to the big city, annoying and charming everyone in equal measure, but his good nature brings him romance and a loyal group of friends. The next 20 years finds him following the winding road of contemporary Japanese history, filled with twists and turns. The heartfelt song of an unheroic hero echoes throughout.

There is Light (Kurayami kara Te wo Nobase)

Thursday, July 18 at 9:00 pm

**North American Premiere, Introduction and Q&A with Director Yukihiro Toda

Japan. 2013. 68 min. HD Cam, in Japanese with English subtitles.Directed by Yukihiro Toda. With Maya Koizumi, Kanji Tsuda, Masayuki Moriyama, Yuki Kan, Sachiko Matsuura, Aoyama Hokingu, Morooka Moro.

Saori (Maya Koizumi) decides to work at Honey Lips, a company that provides sex to disabled people, for the simple reason that it seems like easy work. On the first day of her new job, the manager (Kanji Tsuda) drives Saori to a customer's house located in a peaceful residence area. The film follows her experiences servicing a set of very special clients, with a subtle blend of honesty and humor, taking a blunt, balanced docudrama-like approach to build a compelling narrative about life choices. Central to There Is Light is a pitch perfect performance by former swimsuit model Maya Koizumi. 2013 Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival Grand Jury Prize.

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

 Thermae Romae (Terumae Romae)

Sunday, July 14 at 5:15 pm

**New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan. 2012. 108 min. BD, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hideki Takeuchi. With Hiroshi Abe, Aya Ueto, Masachika Ichimura, Kazuki Kitamura, Kai Shishido.

An epic bath extravaganza! Based on a manga series that's sold 5 million copies and spawned a TV show, this film follows an ancient Roman bath designer who time travels to contemporary Japan and finds fresh inspiration in Japan's modern day public baths.

The Warped Forest (Asatte no Mori)

Sunday, July 14 at 12:30 pm

**U.S. Continental Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF

Japan, 2011, 82 min. HD Cam, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shunichiro Miki. With Rinko Kikuchi, Fumi Nikaido, BOBA, Kanji Tuda, Yoshiyuki Morishita.

Six years ago, directors Shunichiro Miki, Katsuhito Ishii and Hajime Ishimine teamed up to deliver Funky Forest: The First Contact, a movie so weirdly beautiful, so deeply imagined and so hilariously surreal that it changed lives, cured disease and turned water into unicorn milk. Now Shunichiro Miki flies solo to deliver a film full of nipple guitars, giant store owners, weiner guns and the Pinkie Pankie monster.

 A Woman and War (Senso to Hitori no Onna)

Wednesday, July 17 at 7:30 pm

**North American Premiere, Introduction and Q&A with Director Junichi Inoue

Japan. 2013. 98 min. HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Junichi Inoue. With Noriko Eguchi, Masatoshi Nagase, Jun Murakami, Akira Emoto, Sakiko Takao, Hako Oshima.

The dignified heir to Koji Wakamatsu's glorious renegade film works, A Woman and War is a darker-than-hell moral shocker set towards the end of WWII. Nomura (Masatoshi Nagase) is a writer in despair. His companion is a former prostitute (Noriko Eguchi), who works in a bar. Many years ago, her father sold her to a brothel due to the family's severe financial hardships. The writer and the woman agree to live as husband and wife until the war ends. Meanwhile, Ohira (Jun Murakami) fought for Japan in China, and participated in unconscionable acts against civilians in the name of war. Returning to Japan with only one arm and a broken soul, he begins to prey on innocent women.

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

  

Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS is an inimitable platform for contemporary Japanese cinema, showing the diversity and vitality of one of the most exciting world cinemas. Since its launch in 2007, the festival has attracted over 30,000 filmgoers and presented over 150 feature films, many never-before seen in the U.S. The first annual JAPAN CUTS was one of the most successful single events in the Society's 2007-08 centennial celebration. Noted for its "rich and varied selection of recent Japanese films" (David Kehr, The New York Times), JAPAN CUTS has premiered several films that have gone on to garner international acclaim, including: About Her Brother, Buddha, Confessions, Death Note, Fish Story, Gantz, Haru's Journey, Kamome Diner, Love Exposure, Milocrorze, The Mourning Forest, Ninja Kids!!!, Sawako Decides, Sukiyaki Western Django, Sway, Sketches of Kaitan City, United Red Army, Vacation, and Yasukuni. Every year JAPAN CUTS features a number of panels, post-screening parties, and exclusive Q&As with filmmakers and actors. Past festivals have included appearances by Koji Yakusho, Masami Nagasawa, Kenji Kohashi, Sora Aoi, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Yoshimasa Ishibashi, Shusuke Kaneko, Naomi Kawase, Masahiro Kobayashi, Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, Kentaro Moriya, Miwa Nishikawa, Naoko Ogigami, Natsuki Seta, Shota Sometani, Sion Sono, Tomorowo Taguchi, Gen Takahashi, Toshiaki Toyoda, Hitoshi Yazaki, and Isao Yukisada.

Now in its  12th year, the New York Asian Film Festival is North America's leading festival of popular Asian cinema, which the New York Times has called "one of the city's most valuable events." Presented by Subway Cinema presents the 2013 festival runs June 28-July 15 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater and Japan Society. More at http://subwaycinema.com.

The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's arts & culture programs. The Film Program has included retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres. Some original film series curated by the Japan Society have traveled to other U.S. venues in tours organized by the Film Program. For more, visit http://www.japansociety.org/film.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. More at http://www.japansociety.org.

 Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and V subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org.

 

SCREENING SCHEDULE AT-A-GLANCE:

Thursday, July 11

6:00 - LESSON OF THE EVIL

8:30 - I'M FLASH! + guest intro/Q&A        

 

Friday, July 12

6:00 - BAD FILM

9:00 - HENTAI KAMEN

 

Saturday, July 13

12:30 - A STORY OF YONOSUKE

3:45 - DREAMS FOR SALE

6:30 - IT'S ME IT'S ME + guest intro/Q&A

9:30 - HELTER SKELTER   

 

Sunday, July 14

12:30 - THE WARPED FOREST

2:30 - RUROUNI KENSHIN

5:15 - THERMAE ROMAE

7:30 - THE KIRISHIMA THING

 

Tuesday, July 16

7:30 - LIVE YOUR DREAM + guest intro/ Q&A

 

Wednesday, July 17

7:30 - A WOMAN AND WAR + guest intro/ Q&A

 

Thursday July 18

6:30 - I HAVE TO BUY NEW SHOES

9:00 - THERE IS LIGHT + guest intro/ Q&A

 

Friday, July 19

7:00 - THE RAVINE OF GOODBYE

 

Saturday, July 20

1:00 - DOCUMENTARY OF AKB48 & KICK-HEART + guest intro

4:00 - COWARDS WHO LOOKED TO THE SKY

7:00 - FLY WITH THE GOLD

 

Sunday, July 21

1:00 - THE SAMURAI THAT NIGHT

3:30 - JAPAN'S TRAGEDY

5:30 - DEAREST

8:00 - THE FLOATING CASTLE
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