Film Lineup 2018

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり)Tokyo Vampire Hotel (東京ヴァンパイアホテル)The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (夜は短し歩けよ乙女 )Life Is Fruity (人生フルーツ)The Scythian Lamb (羊の木)Laughing Under the Clouds (曇天に笑う)Miko Girl (巫女っちゃけん)A Beautiful Star (美しい星)The Third Murder (三度目の殺人)Tremble All You Want (勝手にふるえてろ)Chihayafuru – Part 3 (ちはやふる 結び)Mixed Doubles (ミックス)Yocho – Foreboding (予兆 散歩する侵略者)What a Wonderful Family II (家族はつらいよ 2)Hanagatami (花筐)Sekigahara (関ケ原)Hiroshima (ひろしま)Ernesto (エルネスト)Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟)Side Job (彼女の人生は間違いじゃない)Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA (坂本隆一: CODA)Color Me True (今夜、ロマンス劇場で)blank13 (blank13)We Make Antiques (嘘八百)Outrage – Coda (アウトレイジ 最終章)Yakiniku Dragon (焼肉ドラゴン)The Last Recipe (ラストレシピ ~麒麟の舌の記憶~)Birds Without Names  (彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち)Goodbye, Grandpa! (おじいちゃん、死んじゃったって。)

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (DESTINY 鎌倉ものがたり)

Runtime: 129 min / 2017
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Starring: Masato Sakai, Mitsuki Takahata, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Sakura Ando
Canadian Premier

In his latest, director Yamazaki (Always: Sunset of 3rd Street, The Eternal Zero, The Man Called Pirate) creates massive, fanciful special effects in service of a gentle story of a man’s love for his wife.

Masakazu Isshiki is a professor and mystery writer who marries Akiko, one of his students, and brings her to live in Kamakura – a town rife with spirits and mythical beasts. Together they solve mysterious cases taking place around them. When Akiko is taken to the next world by the Goddess of Death, Masakazu is heartbroken and decides to follow and bring her home.

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Tokyo Vampire Hotel (東京ヴァンパイアホテル)

Runtime: 142 min / 2016
Director: Sion Sono
Starring: Kaho, Yumi Adachi, Megumi Kagurazaka and Shinnosuke Mitsushima
North American Premiere

The latest from visionary maverick director Sion Sono offers up a relentless parade of merciless school-girl assassins, guns, swords, blood-soaked orgies and charismatic killers.  In a world on the verge of an apocalyptic global event, an unassuming Japanese girl is transforming into a powerful vampire. Rival vampire hunters K and Yamada must track her down. In the meantime a clan of vampires lures a crowd of humans into a glamorous hotel in order to turn it into their own private blood farm. When a rival clan crashes the party the outrageous and bloody vampire wars begin.

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The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (夜は短し歩けよ乙女 )

Runtime: 93 min / 2017
Director:
Masaki Yuasa
Starring (voice):
Kana Hanazawa, Gen Hoshino, Hiroshi Kamiya, Ryuji Akiyama
Toronto Premiere

Winner of the Best Film at the Ottawa Animation Festival, Masaaki Yuasa’s (Lu Over the Wall, Mind Game) adaptation of Tomihiko Morimi’s bestseller focuses on a love-struck male university student, and his hapless crush on “The Girl With Black Hair”. Hoping to confess his feelings he follows her as she wanders though the mysterious and dream-like Kyoto night and the two experience a myriad of eccentric encounters.

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Life Is Fruity (人生フルーツ)

Runtime: 91 min / 2017
Director: Kenshi Fushihara
Narrated by: Kirin Kiki
Canadian Premiere

Director Fushihara’s delicate, charming documentary won the Kinema Jumpo Best Film of the Year (Cultural Section) and tells the story of 90-year-old architect Shuichi Tsubata and his 87-year-old wife Hideko.

They live in Aichi Prefecture in a rambling house of Shuichi’s own design. In fact, Shuichi as a young architect was responsible for their entire “new town” residential area. Their garden is bursting with 70 types of vegetables and 50 types of fruits, and they live in harmony with nature and in gentle, cheerful acceptance of their own impending mortality.

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The Scythian Lamb (羊の木)The Scythian Lamb (羊の木)

Runtime: 126 min / 2018
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
Starring:  Ryo Nishikido, Ryuhei Matsuda, Fumino Kimura, Mikako Ichikawa, Kazuki Kitamura, Min Tanaka, Shingo Mizusawa
North American Premiere

Suffering from population decline, the small seaside town decides to welcome six strangers into the community. A malevolent fishing boat operator, a sexy caregiver, a frightening launderer, a timid barber, a methodical cleaning woman, and a simple-minded deliveryman are all brought together by this mysterious government-sponsored program. Only Tsukisue, the young city official, is privy to their secret: they are participants in a covert project set up to re-socialize paroled murderers.

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Laughing Under the Clouds (曇天に笑う)

Runtime: 94 min / 2018
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Starring: Sota Fukushi, Yuma Nakayama, Yuki Furukawa, Ren Kiriyama
International Premiere

It is the 11th year of the Meiji era and times are uncertain.  The return of Orochi – a giant mystical serpent reborn once every 300 years to bring disaster to Japan – is imminent, and a huge prison island has been created to control the growing unrest as people protest the ban on the samurai.  The three brothers of the Kumo temple, together with the Yamainu government battle-force, are tasked with repelling the beast and bringing peace to Japan. Meanwhile the Anyaku ninja group begin their move to control the power of the Orochi in order to overthrow the government.  Based on the popular manga by Kemuri Karakara.

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Miko Girl (巫女っちゃけん)Miko Girl (巫女っちゃけん)

Runtime: 98 min / 2018
Director: Su-Yeon Gu
Starring:  Alice Hirose, Taiki Yamaguchi, Megumi, Lily Franky, Naoko Iijima
North American Premiere

Shiwasu works as a Miko (shrine maiden) at the shrine where her father is chief priest. Her mother has long ago abandoned the family. Shiwasu is bright but directionless and nurses a very bad attitude. One night, as she walks around the shrine, she discovers and captures 5-year-old Kenta trying to commit arson. She soon discovers he has fled an abusive mother and her boyfriend. Shiwasu decides to help and in doing so finds her own sense of purpose.  Su-Yeon Gu’s light-hearted comedy-drama featuring gorgeous scenery and a charismatic central performance from Alice Hirose.

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A Beautiful Star (美しい星)A Beautiful Star (美しい星)

Runtime: 127 min / 2017
Director: Daihachi Yoshida
Starring: Lily Franky, Kazuya Kamenashi, Ai Hashimoto
Toronto Premiere

A dark and surreal comedy based loosely on a 1962 novel by Yukio Mishima.

A placid TV weather forecaster Osugi is overwhelmed by a strange solar phenomenon and wakes up hours later believing he is an emissary from the League of Solar Planets. His weather broadcasts soon turn into apocalyptic rants that prophesize the impending doom that is climate change. Before long, each family member takes their own conflicting positions on the fate of planet Earth—until a human tragedy pulls them together.

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The Third Murder (三度目の殺人)

Runtime: 124 min / 2017
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Koji Yakusho, Suzu Hirose
TIFF Encore Presentation

Leading attorney Shigemori takes on the defence of murder-robbery suspect Misumi who served jail time for another murder 30 years ago. Shigemori’s chances of winning the case seem low – his client freely admits his guilt, despite facing the death penalty if he is convicted. As he digs deeper into the case, as he hears the testimonies of the victim’s family and Misumi himself, the once confident Shigemori begins to doubt whether his client is the murderer after all.  Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest masterpiece swept the Japanese Academy Awards with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Male and Female Supporting Performances.

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Tremble All You Want (勝手にふるえてろ)

Runtime: 117 min / 2017
Director: Akiko Ohku
Starring: Mayu Matsuoka, Daichi Watanabe, Anna Ishibashi, Takumi Kitamura
Canadian Premiere

Based on Risa Wataya’s best-selling novel and winner of the Tokyo international Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award, Akiko Ohku’s film is a tender and very funny study of romantic obsession and social isolation.  Yoshika is a social awkward 24-year-old obsessed with fossils and a boy from her middle school days. When an earnest co-worker confesses his feelings for her she struggles to set her obsessions aside. Mayu Matusoka’s hilarious and heartfelt central performance, a witty script and breakneck pacing make it one of 2017’s best films

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Chihayafuru Part 3 (ちはやふる 結び)

Runtime: 128 min / 2018
Director: Norihiro Koizumi
Starring: Suzu Hirose, Shuhei Nomura, Mackenyu Arata, Mone Kamishiraishi, Mayu Matsuoka
North American Premiere

The third installment in the hit Chihayafuru trilogy takes place two years after the showdown between Chihaya and Shinobu at the National Karuta Competion.  Chihaya is now a high school senior and, together with her friends Taichi and Arata, enters the Master/Queen Competition to face yet another battle against Shinobu.  In the meanwhile, Chihaya learns their master Hideo Harada has been humiliated in defeat by Suo, the most skilled Karuta player in history. The friends decide to challenge Suo to a revenge match…  A fast-paced, exciting film filled with friendship, determination and beautiful kimono.

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Mixed Doubles (ミックス)

Runtime: 119 min / 2017
Director: Junichi Ishikawa
Starring: Yui Aragaki, Eita, Koji Seto, Mei Nagano
North American Premiere

Laughter, love and ping-pong combine in the tale of Tamako, 28 and single and a one-time prodigy now playing on the corporate team. When her handsome team-mate/boyfriend Ejima dumps her for beautiful Airi she returns devastated to her hometown. There she finds that the Flower Table Tennis Club formerly run by her late mother is in dire financial straits. Its current roster consists of a bored ex-rebel, a celebrity housewife, a dieting middle-aged couple, a high school nerd, and formerly nationally ranked pro boxer Hagiwara. They begin to train together with the dream of entering the National Championships. Will Tamako defeat Ejima and Airi and find the man of her dreams?

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Yocho – Foreboding (予兆 散歩する侵略者 劇場版)

Runtime: 140 min / 2017
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring: Kaho, Shota Sometani, Masahiro Higashide, Yukino Kishii
North American Premiere

Etsuko is worried about her friend Miyuki who is seeing ghosts in her home. Taking her to a psychiatric hospital she is informed Miyuki has lost the concept of “family.” Meanwhile, Etsuko’s husband, Tatsuo encounters Dr. Jiro Makabe, a new doctor with an unnerving manner. He is an alien who has taken over a human host and is now looking for a “guide” to help him understand humankind in preparation for an alien invasion. Enlisting Tatsuo, Makabe begins his “study” leaving victims stripped of their humanity – or dead. Etsuko learns the truth and must fight back against the invasion.

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What a Wonderful Family II (家族はつらいよ 2)

Runtime: 113 min / 2017
Director: Yoji Yamada
Starring:  Isao Hashizume, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Masahiko Nishimura, Yui Natsukawa,  Satoshi Tsumabuki, Yū Aoi, Nenji Kobayashi
Toronto Premiere

Shuzo and Tomiko, married for five decades, have just avoided a divorce and life is seemingly back to normal. Shuzo still enjoys driving his own car but when their son Konosuke notice a dent on Shuzo’s car, he worries that Shuzo is too old to drive. The stubborn Shuzo refuses to quit. One day, Shuzo happens to meet Ginnpei, a school mate from Hiroshima he hasn’t seen in 40 years and they they become drinking buddies. Shuzo soon invites Ginnpei to stay at his house. The Hirata household is soon thrown into hilarious chaos once again.

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Hanagatami (花筐/HANAGATAMI)

Runtime: 169 min / 2017
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Starring: Shunsuke Kubozuka, Honoka Yahagi, Takako Tokiwa, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Mugi Kadowaki
Canadian Premiere

In 2017 Nobuhiko Obayashi  learned he had stage four cancer. His response was to fulfill a 40-year old filmmaking dream in the time he had remaining.

In spring 1941, Toshihiko returns from Europe, showing up at the home of his aunt in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture.  He entertains a crush on his tubercular cousin Mina while reveling in “depraved” adolescence with the girls and indulging in bravery-testing escapades with his school buddies. The pacific war soon erupts and their fragile, idyllic world is torn asunder.

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Sekigahara (関ケ原)Sekigahara (関ケ原)

Runtime: 149 min / 2017
Director: Masato Harada
Starring: Junichi Okada, Koji Yakusho, Kasumi Arimura, Takehiro Hira, Masahiro Higashide
Canadian Premiere

Masato Harada (Kakekomi, The Emperor in August) returns with this samurai battle epic based on Ryotaro Shiba’s literary account.  The very name Sekigahara is evocative for anyone who knows anything about Japanese history. It is the site of Japan’s most famous — and most decisive — battle, a watershed event that saw the advent of 250 years of peace and stability. On October 21, 1600, the famous Battle of Sekigahara took place between the Western Army, led by Mitsunari Ishida and the Eastern Army, led Ieyasu Tokugawa. Its outcome would end the Warring States Period and determine a ruler for the new era.

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Hiroshima (ひろしま)

Runtime: 104 min / 1953
Director: Hideo Sekigawa
Starring: Eiji Okada, Yumeji Tsukioka, Takashi Kanda, Isuzu Yamada

Based on Children of the Atom Bomb, a book of testimonies by children who experienced the bombing of Hiroshima, this harrowing drama details the destruction and suffering left in the wake of the A-bomb for a group of students, teachers and their families. A direct indictment against nuclear war and the mistreatment of Hiroshima’s stigmatized survivors, this independently produced and distributed film was funded by the Japan Teachers Union in an effort to “preserve peace” and utilized tens of thousands of Hiroshima citizens as extras, including many survivors.

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Ernesto (エルネスト)

Runtime: 124 min / 2017
Director: Junji Sakamoto
Starring: Joe Odagiri, Kento Nagayama, Alexis Diaz de Villegas
North American Premiere

Winner of the Best Film of the Year in the Takasaki Film Festival, this powerful Japan-Cuba co-production is based on the true story of Freddy Maemura Hurtado, a Nikkei born to a father from Kagoshima and a Bolivian mother.

Known as “Ernesto Medico” (doctor) he is determined to help bridge the social inequities in his homeland, so he goes to Cuba to study medicine where he encounters the revolutionary Che Guevara. He soon decides to return home as a guerrilla fighter alongside Che and the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, in a doomed attempt to overthrow the government.

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Miracles of the Namiya General Store (ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟)

Runtime: 129 min / 2017
Director: Ryoichi Hiroki
Starring: Ryosuke Yamada, Toshiyuki Nishida, Machiko Ono, Nijiro Murakami, Kaoru Kobayashi
North American Premiere

This deeply moving fantasy-drama, based on Keigo Higashino’s best-selling novel, was nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film.

The titular shop was run for years by the kindly Mr. Namiya, an elderly man who imparted homespun wisdom to customers in need of advice.  In 2012, as three youths hide out in the now derelict store following a burglary, a letter is slipped through the door – allegedly written by a girl three decades earlier.

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Side Job (彼女の人生は間違いじゃない)

Runtime: 119 min / 2017
Director: Ryoichi Hiroki
Starring:  Kumi Takiuchi, Ken Mitsuishi, Kengo Kora
North American Premiere

Miyuki lost her mother in the 2011 tsunami disaster in Fukushima. Working as a city clerk, she shares temporary housing with her father, a rice farmer who has lost his livelihood as his fields are now in the nuclear contamination zone. Out of financial necessity, and to escape her grinding existence in the disaster area, she journeys to Tokyo on the weekends where she works as a prostitute. There she meets Miura who becomes her driver, guardian and confidant.  Based on Fukushima-born director Hiroki’s own novel, and featuring a stunning central performance for Takiuchi, Side Job is an unsentimental, heart-wrenching but ultimately hopeful tale of a bleak realities of post-disaster Tohoku.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA (坂本隆一: CODA)

Runtime: 102 min / 2017
Director: Stephen Nomura Schible
Starring: Ryuichi Sakamoto

When diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014, Oscar-winning composer, pianist, writer, and actor Ryuichi Sakamoto reacted by saying “I want to make more music.”

Shot over a period of five years, the film opens with the humanitarian Sakamoto examining a nuclear contamination zone in Fukushima and proceeds to chronicle his cancer diagnosis, his beginnings in music, and his thoughts about the world – ultimately depicting Sakamoto as a visionary with a complex, caring, and creative mind.

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Color Me True (今夜、ロマンス劇場で)

Runtime: 108 min / 2018
Director: Hideki Takeuchi
Starring: Haruka Ayase, Kentaro Sakaguchi, Tsubasa Honda, Kazuki Kitamura
North American Premiere

It is the 1960s and film was losing its status as “the king of entertainment” to TV, a change triggered by the televised wedding of the crown prince. Aspiring young director Kenji dreams of making films and spends his days at his favourite theatre, the Romance Gekijo, watching old black-and-white films. He’s particularly infatuated with Princess Miyuki, a character from a forgotten film. One night lightning strikes the theatre and the princess miraculously steps off the screen and into Kenji’s world. Still in black and white, Kenji takes her out to introduce her to the beauty of color: rainbows, blue skies, purple wisteria flowers and red roses.

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blank13 (blank13)

Runtime: 70 min / 2017
Director: Takumi Saitoh
Starring: Issey Takahashi, Lilly Franky, Misuzu Kanno,  Mayu Matsuoka, Takumi Saitoh
Canadian Premiere

Superstar Takumi Saitoh’s feature-length directorial debut is set at the funeral of a man who recently returned home to his family after a 13-year absence, taking us through the mourning of a family blunted by resentment.  With the arrival of a group of eccentric mourners, their eulogies bring about a change of tone as the family discovers there was much more about their father’s life than they could have suspected. The film quietly evokes the enigma of discovering the private life of a loved one, whether dead or alive; and the elasticity of familial bonds.

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We Make Antiques (嘘八百)

Runtime: 105 min / 2018
Director: Masaharu Take
Starring:  Kiichi Nakai, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Tomochika, Aoi Morikawa, Tomoya Maeno
Canadian Premiere

Dubious antique dealer Norio finds a priceless tea bowl which once belonged to the famous 16th century tea master Sen no Rikyo among the musty contents of a rich family’s storehouse.  He deceives the homeowner Sasuke to get it for next to nothing. In fact Sasuke is merely the house-sitter and made the tea cup himself.  When Norio learns Sasuke was once a gifted potter whose career was derailed by a famous TV antiques appraiser – the same man who damaged Norio’s own reputation – they decide to settle the score and scam the appraiser.

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Outrage – Coda (アウトレイジ 最終章)

Runtime: 104 min / 2017
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Toshiyuki Nishida, Tatsuo Nadaka, Nao Omori, Pierre Taki, Yutaka Ren Ohsugi
Canadian Premiere

Five years after surviving the all-out war between the Sanno and Hanabishi crime families, former yakuza boss Otomo now works in South Korea for Mr. Chang, a renowned fixer whose influence extends into Japan. A minor incident escalates tensions between Chang Enterprises and Japan’s powerful Hanabishi-gumi. The conflict soon ignites a ferocious power struggle among the top echelons of the Hanabishi and when Chang’s life is endangered, devoted yakuza Otomo must return to Japan to set things straight.

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Yakiniku Dragon (焼肉ドラゴン)

Runtime: 126 min / 2018
Director: Wishing Chong
Starring: Yo Oizumi, Yoko Maki, Mao Inoue, Kim Sang-Ho, Oh Shin-Gil, Lee Jung Eun, Shinpei Ooe
North American Premiere

Based on his popular play about the struggles of the Zainichi (ethnic Korean) community in Japan, director Wishing Chong tells the story of one family in 1970s Osaka.  Yong Gil immigrated from South Korea and operates a barbecue restaurant with his wife and three tempestuous daughters. Oldest daughter Jung-Hwa is dating Tetsuo but they break up. Middle daughter Yi-Hwa loves Tetsuo and marries him, but he still loves her older sister and they divorce. The youngest daughter Mi-Hwa wants to become a singer, but she is in love with a married man.

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The Last Recipe (ラストレシピ ~麒麟の舌の記憶~)The Last Recipe (ラストレシピ ~麒麟の舌の記憶~)

Runtime: 126 min / 2017
Director: Yojiro Takita
Starring: Kazunari Ninomiya, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Aoi Miyazaki, Go Ayano
North American Premiere

The latest film from the director of the Oscar-winning Departures tells the story of culinary genius Mitsuru Sasaki, a formerly renowned chef who now capitalizes on his gift: the ability to remember every flavor he’s ever tasted. He is commissioned to cook a meal as the last request of dying gourmet for a fee lofty enough to save his floundering business. The catch is that he must seek out a lost recipe by famed Japanese chef Yamagata, who prepared the meal in occupied Manchuria during the 1930s for a historic feast to honor the Emperor’s visit. But where is the recipe now and what was the secret that Yamagata risked his life to hide?

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Birds Without Names  (彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち)

Runtime: 123 min / 2017
Director: Kazuya Shiraishi
Starring: Yu Aoi, Sadao Abe, Yutaka Takenouchi, Tori Matsuzaka
TIFF Encore Presentation

Towako lives with Jinji a man 15 years her senior. Lounging around their tiny squalid apartment, she pines after Kurosaki, a callous lover who nearly beat her to death 8 years earlier. She thinks little of casually sleeping around and is openly disgusted by the earnest blue-collar Jinji who is slavishly, even masochistically, devoted to Towako and her happiness. When the police inform her that Kurosaki has been missing for five years, she begins to suspect Jinji may be involved in the disappearance. Is there something darker lurking behind his damaged, eager-to-please façade?

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Goodbye, Grandpa!  (おじいちゃん、死んじゃったって。)

Runtime: 104 min / 2017
Director: Yukihiro Morigaki
Starring: Yukino Kishii, Ryo Iwamatsu, Ken Mitsuishi, Jun Miho, Miki Mizuno
North American Premiere

This “21st Century update of Juzo Itami’s The Funeral” opens as Yoshiko receives a phone call about her grandfather’s death when she is having sex with her boyfriend. With this the preparations and funeral for her grandfather begin, involving a slovenly uncle, termagant aunt, shut-in cousin, and a grandma suffering from dementia. No one cries at the funeral and, as eccentric family members true feelings percolate to the surface, Yoshiko starts to think about “life” and “death” and becomes determined to visit the Ganges River in India where people believe they can free their souls for eternity.

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