The program of the 18th Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection in Frankfurt am Main is complete! From May 29 to June 3, 2018 the audience can discover more than 100 new short and feature films at the biggest festival for Japanese film worldwide – from blockbusters and anime to independent and documentary films. Almost all of the films will be presented as German, European- international, or world premieres. A diverse supporting program provides about 50 exciting cultural activities apart from the cinema. Numerous Japanese filmmakers, musicians, and artists will be our guests at the festival. As the guest of honor, renowned actress Shinobu Terajima will receive the Nippon Honor Award 2018. The events will take place at the festival centers at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle as well as four additional locations in Frankfurt am Main.
Once more, many stars of the Japanese film scene will be expected to present their works in person to the festival audience as part of the section Nippon Cinema. This includes Shuichi Okita, director of the opening film Mori, The Artist’s Habitat. The ironic comedy shows a day in the life of the famous Japanese painter Morikazu Kumagai (1880-1977). Hiroshi Takahashi, screenwriter of the J-Horror classic The Ring, will also attend the festival and present his latest film Occult Bolshevism, an innovative genre experiment about the spiritist séance that gets out of control. Masanori Tominaga’s drama Pumpkin and Mayonnaise is a sensitive portrayal of the conflicting feelings of a woman caught between two men. Tremble All You Want by Akiko Oku is sharing this same constellation but in the style of a romantic comedy that convinces with a fine sense of humor and and a brilliant cast. The versatile director Kazuya Shirashi is represented with two films at the festival: Birds Without Names is a kaleidoscope about unrequited love and a dysfunctional relationship, oscillating between psychological drama and thriller. Here, lead actress Yu Aoi shines as part of the outstanding cast, while Koji Yakusho, winner of the Nippon Honor Award 2017, proofs his ability as an actor playing the role of a hard-boiled cop in The Blood of Wolves. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, one of the masters of subtle horror, envisions his version of the apocalypse in Foreboding. With his history drama Flower and Sword, Tetsuo Shinohara looks back into the past of Japan, when the monk Senko tried to confront a cruel ruler with his flower arrangements. The best film of the section will be awarded with the Nippon Cinema Award. The audience award includes a prize money of 2,000 Euro and is sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler.
Our section Nippon Animation shows that the productivity and diversity of Japanese directors is still high in the field of animated film. All fans of Masaaki Yuasa can look forward to the German premieres of his films Lu Over the Wall and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. The highly unconventional film Violence Voyager is a special highlight, which filmmaker Ujicha realized almost single-handedly using handmade paper-cut figures. The wide creative range of young and independent filmmakers is represented in the two short film programs Music of the Visual World and Tokyo University of the Arts: Animation. However, there are also veterans of anime represented in our program: Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Hiromasa Yonebayashi is the first work of Studio Ponoc, which was founded by former employees of renowned Studio Ghibli. Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy and the Beast will be shown as part of the Nippon Film Breakfast.
New Program Section Nippon Docs
The new program section Nippon Docs, supported by Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein Main, presents diverse approaches and contents in documentary filmmaking: patient and tentative explorations, intimate long time observations, and entertaining portraits. In the opening film of the section, Love and Wolbachia, director Sayaka Ono is concerned with the question of how love works outside of normal gender structures. The international premiere of the film will be shown in attendance of the director. Akiko Sugimoto has visited the inhabitants of a social housing complex in Yokohama for several years, capturing touching everyday scenes with the camera for her film Danchi Woman. Ramen Heads by Koki Shigeno shows how Japan’s best ramen chefs are looking for the perfect recipe. Quite appropriately, the highly appetizing documentary will be presented at the Nippon Film Dinner. A panel discussion with representatives of both theory and practice will illuminate the current situation of Japanese documentary film, especially regarding international co-productions.
The section Nippon Visions provides space for young talents as well as for experienced filmmakers who feel like leaving their comfort zone once in a while. There is space for uncommon perspectives, for example the French-Japanese co-production The Night I Swam by directors Damien Manivel and Kohei Igarashi, which is calm and concentrated, yet touching: One day a little boy decides to visit his dad at work. Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops by Daigo Matsui is inspired by a true event and explores the borders between theater and film in a single 74-minute shot. A challenging highlight in all respects is Wilderness (Part 1 & 2) by Yoshiyuki Kishi. Based on the 1966 novel by avantgarde author Shuji Terayama, the film unfolds an epic boxing drama of existentialist force. The gripping revenge thriller Cyclops by Norichika Oba proofs that there is no need for a big budget in order to produce a high quality film. Yusaku Matsumoto takes a glance behind the glittering facades of the metropolis of Tokyo in his feature film debut Noise. He dissects the mental wounds conflicted on people by life in the city. In order to balance out all the melancholy, there are funny and entertaining highlights in the Nippon Visions section as well, such as the zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead by Shinichiro Ueda or the B-movie mockumentary Top Knot Detective by Dominic Pearce and Aaron McCann. Hirobumi Watanabe, winner of the Nippon Honor Award 2017, reports back with the humorous and touching tragic comedy Party ‘Round the Globe.
An international jury honors the best feature film of the sections Nippon Visions and Nippon Docs with the Nippon Visions Jury Award. The winning director will get a free subtitling, sponsored by Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) in Tokyo. This year’s Nippon Visions Jury is composed of Hiromi Aihara (Producer), Daniel Otto (Vice President Acquisition & Sales at AV Visionen), and Isao Yukisada (director of River’s Edge).
The Nippon Visions Audience Award, which is endowed with an amount of 1,000 Euro will be given out for the fifth time. The Nippon Docs films will take part in this competition as well. The award is founded by Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachzentrum e.V. in Frankfurt am Main.
Nippon Retro: Elegance & Bloodshed – Japanese Sword Fighting Films from the 1960’s
Sword fighting films represent one of the most popular genres of Japanese cinema. However, in recent years, one could observe a remarkable decline of the once so unshakeable film genre. The section Nippon Retro at the cinema of the Deutsches Filmmuseum focuses on a decade when the genre was in full bloom – the 1960’s. In contrast to their predecessors, which were inspired by kabuki theater, the films of the 1960’s had a more modern focus: The individual and its interests, which are pushed through recklessly, are a main topic of many of the gloomy and conflictual stories. This called for a new aesthetic and therefore, sword fighting films of this era tended to be brutal und nihilistic. In the retrospective Elegance & Bloodshed – Japanese Sword Fighting Films from the 1960’s, eight films on 35mm and 16mm are presented in cooperation with the Japan Foundation. As a retro special screening, the Nippon Connection Film Festival will also show the classic silent film Kurama Tengu (1928) with live music and accompaniment by famous benshi (cinema narrator) Ichiro Kataoka
The supporting program of the Nippon Culture section invites the audience to discover the diverse culture of Japan, from traditions to the modern lifestyle. One can find culinary specialties, music, performances, workshops, lectures, and exhibitions. The electro-pop combo Tim & Puma Mimi will make everyone at Studio 1 at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm dance on June 1 at 10 p.m. They will be supported by chiptune band Melted Moon. The German-Japanese duo Hatobako presents a living-room concert at the Mousonturm Café with relaxing sounds from guitar and vocals on June 2 at 8 p.m. There will be karaoke parties for those who want to grab a microphone themselves on May 30 at 10 p.m., and on June 2 at 9:30 p.m. The team of Oishii Japanese Streetfood will supply the visitors at Mousonturm Café with with delicious ramen during the festival. Everyone who needs either a little workout or wants to relax should pass by at radio gymnastics (Rajio Taiso) or treat himself a shiatsu massage. At Nippon Heimkino, cult director Jörg Buttgereit will comment an exquisite gem of Japanese genre cinema, with chips and beer for all. The diverse workshop program ranges from Ikebana, the traditional art of arranging flowers, taiko drums and kirigami paper cut to self-defense with aikido. Keiko Wakita demonstrates how to transform a squared cloth into a multifunctional object by knotting and folding at her furoshiki workshop. The Japanese dancer Michiko Yamazaki presents the traditional dance Nihon Buyo at a workshop and a performance.
The section Nippon Kids offers a variety of discoveries for the youngest fans of Japan. The program includes a workshop for needle felting and one for film music, a performance of the Japanese paper theater kamishibai, as well as an onigirazu cooking class. Children can make colorful kois out of paper at the koinobori workshop. And with Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Hiromasu Yonebayashi, there will also be a kids film again.
The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized on a voluntary basis by the 70 members of the non-profit Nippon Connection registered association. The festival is under the patronage of Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main, and the Consul General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main (to be confirmed). Festival centers are located at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle. Additional events take place at Mal Seh’n Kino, the Cinema of the German Film Museum, and Ausstellungsraum Eulengasse.
The complete program as well as tickets will be available via the festival website: www.NipponConnection.com
Bamy by Jun Tanaka, J 2017
Birds without Names (Kanojo ga sono na o shiranai toritachi) by Kazuya Shiraishi, J 2017, GP
The Blood of Wolves (Koro no chi) by Kazuya Shiraishi, J 2018, GP
The City of Betrayal (Uragiri no machi) by Daisuke Miura, J 2016, GP
Dear Etranger (Osanago warera ni umare) by Yukiko Mishima, J 2017, GP
Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (Destiny Kamakura monogatari) by Takashi Yamazaki, J 2017, GP
Enokida Trading Post (Enokida boekido) by Ken Iizuka, J 2017, WP
Flower and Sword (Hana ikusa) by Tetsuo Shinohara, J 2017, GP
Foreboding (Yocho sanpo suru shinryakusha gekijoban) by Kyoshi Kurosawa, J 2018
Hanagatami by Nobuhiko Obayashi, J 2017, GP
Moon and Thunder (Tsuki to kaminari) by Hiroshi Ando, J 2017, EP
Mori, The Artists Habitat (Mori no iru basho) by Shuichi Okita, J 2018, GP
Oh Lucy! by Atsuko Hirayanagi, J 2017, GP
Outrage Coda (Autoreiji saishusho) by Takeshi Kitano, J 2017
Pumpkin and Mayonnaise (Kabocha to mayonezu) by Masanori Tominaga, J 2017, EP
Recall (Sora tobu taiya) by Katsuhide Motoki, J 2018, EP
River’s Edge by Isao Yukisada, J 2018
Occult Bolshevism (Reiteki borisheviki) by Hiroshi Takahashi, J 2017, EP
The Third Murder (Sandome no satsujin) by Hirokazu Koreeda, J 2017, GP
Tremble All You Want (Katte ni furetero) by Akiko Oku, J 2017, GP
We Are (Ao no kaerimichi) by Michihito Fujii, J 2017, WP
Lu Over the Wall (Yoake tsugeru Ru no uta) by Masaaki Yuasa, J 2017, GP
Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Meari to majo no hana) by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, J 2017
Mutafukaz by Shojiro Nishimi and Guillaume Renard, J / F 2017
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl by Masaaki Yuasa, J 2017, GP
Violence Voyager by Ujicha, J 2017, EP
The Boy and the Beast (Bakemono no ko) by Mamoru Hosoda, J 2015
Breath of Rokkasho (Ikizuku) by Bunyo Kimura, J 2017, IP
Cyclops (Kyukuropusu) by Norichika Oba, J 2018, IP
The Hungry Lion (Ueta raion) by Takaomi Ogata, J 2017, GP
Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops (Aiso to amaoto) by Daigo Matsui, J 2017, EP
The Name (Namae) by Akihiro Toda, J 2017, GP
The Night I Swam (Oyogisugita yoru) by Damien Manivel and Kohei Igarashi, J / F 2017, GP
Noise by Yusaku Matsumoto, J 2017
One Cut of the Dead (Kamera o tomeru na) by Shinichiro Ueda, J 2017
Party ‘Round the Globe (Chikyu wa omatsurisawagi) by Hirobumi Watanabe, J 2017, GP
Passage of Life (Boku no kaeru basho) by Akio Fujimoto, J / Mya 2017, GP
Strange Fruit: Shorts
Top Knot Detective by Dominic Pearce and Aaron McCann, AUS 2016
Wilderness (Part 1 & 2) (Aa, koya – zempen & kohen) by Yoshiyuki Kishi, J 2017, EP
Danchi Woman by Akiko Sugimoto, J 2017, EP
A Free Man (Jiyujin) by Andreas Hartmann, J / D 2017
Inland Sea (Minatomachi) by Kazuhiro Soda, J / USA 2018
Japan Institute of the Moving Image: Short Docs
Love and Wolbachia (Koi to borubakia) by Sayaka Ono, J 2017, IP
Of Love & Law by Hikaru Toda, J / UK / F 2017, GP
Ramen Heads by Koki Shigeno, J 2017, GP
Trace of Breath (Iki no ato) by Haruka Komori, J 2017, GP
Zen and Bones (Zen to hone) by Takayuki Nakamura, J 2016, EP
Kiru by Kenji Misumi, J 1962
On the Road Forever (Mushuku mono) by Kenji Misumi, J 1964
Red Peony Gambles Her Life (Hibotan akuto – Hanafuda shobu) by Tai Kato, J 1969
Samurai Rebellion (Joiuchi: Hairyo tsuma shimatsu) by Masaki Kobayashi, J 1967
Sword of Doom (Daibosatsu toge) by Kihachi Okamoto, J 1966
Thirteen Assassins (13 nin no shikaku) by Eiichi Kudo, J 1963
Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa, J 1961
Sanjuro (Tsubaki Sanjuro) by Akira Kurosawa, J 1962
Special Screening: Kurama Tengu by Teppei Yamaguchi, J 1928
EP: European Premiere / GP: German Premiere / IP: International Premiere / WP: World Premiere
Concerts and Parties
Opening Lounge with DJ Chris MaGee and Shakuhachi Concert / Nippon Live on Stage: Tim & Puma Mimi and Melted Moon / Nippon Live on Stage: Hatobako / Nippon Open Air: Jim Franklin and Hiroko Sugino, Melted Moon, Die Yamasakis, Duo Fuga / Group Karaoke + Karaoke Contest
Nippon Film Dinner / Nippon Film Breakfast /