The Samurai – and the Stars – Head to the Toronto Japanese Film Festival
The samurai, of the cinematic variety, are set to descend on Toronto this summer. They are joined by reluctant sake brewers, yakuza assassins, tea ceremony sages, deadly mahjong-playing robots, kimono-clad beauties, dashing hotel detectives, and calculating masters of “corporate kabuki”.
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s 8th annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival will be held from June 6 to 27 and features 28 films, visiting stars and directors, taiko drumming performances, a sake tasting, art exhibitions and, of course, lots of sushi. The festival has now grown into the largest film event of its kind in North America and is recognized by the Japanese film industry as a vital conduit for bringing Japanese film to the world. Many films come to the festival prior to their Japanese release.
- One of Japan’s most talented and in-demand actresses Mikako Tabe (Midnight Diner 1&2, Every Day a Good Day, Sing My Life, Liar Game: Reborn) makes her first visit to Toronto to introduce her new film, Sadao Nakajima’s LOVE’S TWISTING PATH, a heady mix of romance and classic chambara jidaigeki (sword-fighting samurai dramas).
- Director Toshiyuki Teruya (best known as the comedian “Gori” from the comic duo Garage Sale) will visit Toronto with his award-winning BORN BONE BORN, an Okinawa-based dramedy about the unique senkotsu funeral ritual.
- Director Tatsushi Omori visits with two films, WHEN MY MOM DIED, I WANTED TO EAT HER ASHES and the festival’s closing night screening, EVERY DAY A GOOD DAY, an artful examination of the tea ceremony and actress Kirin Kiki’s final film.
- More guest to be announced soon.
The Opening Night film is the North American Premiere of Masayuki Suzuki’s mystery thriller, MASQUERADE HOTEL starring Takuya Kimura and Masami Nagasawa. Highlights for samurai fans include Katsuhide Motoki’s IWANE: SWORD OF SERENITY starring Tori Matsuzaka, Daisuke Kimura’s A SAMURAI’S PROMISE with Junichi Okada and Shinya Tsukamoto’s KILLING.
TJFF is programmed reflect the rich diversity of the world 4th largest film industry: premieres include Kan Eguchi’s yakuza hitman action-comedy, THE FABLE, Kazuya Shiraishi’s controversial A GAMBLER’S ODYSSEY 2020 and Hideyuki Takeuchi’s hit comedy FLY ME TO SAITAMA. Daisuke Miura’s CALL BOY is a shockingly frank and erotic look into the life of male escort and Hikaru Toda’s documentary OF LOVE AND LAW, follows Fumi and Kazu, partners in love and law, who run the first law firm in Japan set up by an openly gay couple. The Canadian premiere of Naoki Segi’s sake brewery-based romance FOR LOVE’S SAKE will be followed by a sake tasting for audience members.
Other screenings include premieres of Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s THE HOUSE WHERE THE MERMAID SLEEPS, Yasuhide Yoshida’s OUR DEPARTURES, Mitsuaki Iwago’s THE ISLAND OF CATS, Emiko Hiramastu’s ORGAN, Tetsu Maeda’s A BANANA, AT THIS TIME OF NIGHT?, Jiro Shono’s EATING WOMEN, Katsuo Fukuzawa’s WHISTLEBLOWER, Yukiko Mishima’s THE ANTIQUE, Kazuya Shiraishi’s THE BLOOD OF WOLVES, Toshio Lee’s WHEN I GET HOME MY WIFE ALWAYS PRETENDS TO BE DEAD, Junji Sakamoto’s ANOTHER WORLD, Studio Ponoc’s new anime collection MODEST HEROES, Yoji Yamada’s WHAT A WONDEFUL FAMILY III – MY WIFE, MY LIFE, Yuki Kakizaki’s USUKE BOYS, Shuichi Okita’s MORI, THE ARTIST’S HABITAT. The festival’s August Anime Showcase screens Kitaro Kosaka’s OKKO’S INN and Hiroyasu Ishida’s PENGUIN HIGHWAY.
Tickets go on sale on May 1 at 10:00am and five- and ten-film pass buyers receive a gift from the festival’s founding sponsor, Shiseido Canada. Go to Torontojff.com, 416-441-2345 or simply come over to the JCCC for tickets and more information.