From May 28 to June 2, 2019 the nineteenth edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival will take place in Frankfurt am Main. As the biggest festival for Japanese cinema worldwide, it offers an exciting insight into the current state of the Japanese film scene with more than 100 short and feature length films from all genres. Numerous filmmakers and artists from Japan will be present to introduce their works and establish a lively exchange with the German audience. A diverse cultural program including workshops, lectures, and concerts gives visitors the chance to explore the multifaceted culture of Japan. The main venues are at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and the Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle.

Still from “And Your Bird Can Sing

Film Highlights

At the Nippon Connection Film Festival, numerous outstanding productions from Japan will be screened, most of them having their German premieres. Shinsuke Sato is considered a specialist for successful manga adaptations. With Inuyashiki, he has directed an action-packed film based on the popular manga in which a senior citizen turns into a superhero.Nobuhiro Yamashita’s absurd and anarchic comedy Hard-Core is also based on a popular manga from the 1980s. With the episodic film jam, director Sabu returns to his roots – high tempo and black humor. Director Ryuichi Hiroki, who has been one of the festivals favorite’s since its beginnings, will personally introduce his latest melodrama It’s Boring Here, Pick Me Up.

In the atmospheric drama And Your Bird Can Sing, which was already praised at this year’s Berlinale, Sho Miyake reflects the aimlessness of members of Generation Y. Two other films take a look back at Japanese history: Takahisa Zeze’s new film The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine tells a multilayered story about anarchists and female sumo wrestlers in the 1920s while the biopic Dare to Stop Us by Kazuya Shiraishi follows the career of cult director Koji Wakamatsu and other members of the independent Japanese film scene from the 1970s. In The Chaplain by Dai Sako, late actor Ren Osugi gives his last brilliant performance as a cleric offering spiritual support to inmates on death row.

Animated Films

Nippon Animation presents a number of outstanding Japanese animated films as German premieres. Liz and the Blue Bird, the latest work by Naoko Yamada, is a melancholic portrait of a friendship. Other highlights of this section include the coming-of-age story Okko’s Inn by Kitaro Kosaka as well as Hiroyasu Ishida’s visually stunning debut Penguin Highway. The renowned Tokyo University of the Arts will once more present short films from its Institute for Animation.

Nippon Honor Award

This year’s Nippon Honor Award goes to director and actor Shinya Tsukamoto. Since his film Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tsukamoto has been seen as one of the most important repre- sentatives of experimental and avant-garde cinema in Japan. However, the cult filmmaker has also been involved in mainstream productions as an actor – like in Silence by Martin Scorsese or the Japanese blockbuster Shin Godzilla. Nippon Connection will present Tsukamoto’s latest film Killing as well as his two classics Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tokyo Fist this year. Shinya Tsukamoto will personally receive his award at the festival and participate in an extensive filmmaker’s talk about his impressive career.

Nippon Retro

The retrospective at the cinema of the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum is dedicated to actress Ayako Wakao. Having received numerous prizes for her performances, Wakao made a name for herself especially as an actress for Daiei studios who has worked with such famous directors as Yasujiro OzuKon Ichikawa, or Yuzo Kawashima. Apart from films by these directors, the retrospective will have a special focus on Wakao’s intensive collaboration with Yasuzo Masumura. The film prints will be provided by the Japan Foundation in Tokyo.

Still from “We Are Little Zombies”

Diverse Supporting Program

Accompanying the film program, numerous workshops, lectures, concerts, performances, and exhibitions offer a variety of perspectives on Japanese culture. Yusuke Yokoi will introduce the traditional dyeing technique Bingata from Okinawa in a lecture and workshop. The multi-award-winning Foley artist Goro Koyama (known from Blade Runner 2049, among others) will create sound effects for a short film together with the participants of his workshop.

Famous Japanese singer Haru Nemuri will give a concert at Mousonturm on May 29, 2019 at 10 p.m., skillfully combining alternative rock, post rock, hardcore, and rap. At the Internationales Theater, Senmaru & Yuki will present the traditional Japanese entertainment art Edo Daigakura.

Topping off the program, many merchandising stands offer films, books, and artisanry on and from Japan. Various caterers serve authentic Japanese specialties such as sushi, takoyaki, yakitori, or savory ramen. Moreover, visitors can try out Japanese drinks like ramune or have a cooled Japanese beer with a frozen head.

Nippon Kids

The festival also offers an exciting program to its youngest visitors. Storyteller Walburga Kliem presents Japanese fairytales and legends, which will be translated into German Sign Language. Actor Yuki Iwamoto will read from the epistolary novel Viele Grüße, Deine Giraffe by Japanese author Megumi Iwasa, charmingly illustrated by Jörg Mühle, who will do a live drawing performance.

The Festival

The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized on a mainly 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. Festival centers are located at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and at the Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle. Further venues include the Mal Seh’n Kino, the Kino im Deutschen Filmmuseum, the Internationales Theater Frankfurt, the Naxos Atelier, and the Hessisches Literaturforum.

The complete program and tickets will be available starting from May 11, 2019 on the festival homepage: NipponConnection.com

Overnight stays during the festival can be booked at our hotel partners in Frankfurt offering special rates: NipponConnection.com/hotels-en.html

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Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.