THE TORONTO JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL COMES HOME!
The JCCC’s 11th annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival will be held from June 16 to 30 and features 24 films. After 2 successful virtual editions, the festival returns to in-person screenings in our Kobayashi Hall. As always, there will be taiko drumming performances, great food and art exhibitions. The festival has now grown into one of the largest film events of its kind in the world 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.
Some of the highlights are:
OPENING NIGHT FILM
THE PASS: LAST DAYS OF THE SAMURAI 峠 最後のサムライ
In 1867, political power returned to the Emperor and 260 years of the Tokugawa Shogunate came to an end. Civil war erupts between imperial loyalists in the west and the remaining shogunate in the east. Caught between both armies, Kawai, chief retainer of the Nagaoka domain, decides to remain neutral in order to safeguard the lives of his clan and resolves to face the end of the samurai era with dignity. Classic samurai cinema, replete with gorgeous period costumes, sets and epic battle scenes. Starring Koji Yakusho, Takako Matsu, Tatsuya Nakadai
CLOSING NIGHT FILM – INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
DREAMING OF THE MERIDIAN ARC 大河への道
While planning a historical TV drama about Tadataka Ino - the first person to make a map of Japan in 1821 - it is discovered that the work was not Ino’s! The film then jumps to the Edo period to follow Ino’s loyal pupils and their secret operation to finish the map to honour their sensei. Hugely entertaining, witty and rich in historical detail. Starring Kiichi Nakai, Keiko Kitagawa, Kenichi Matsuyama, Yukino Kishii.
MASQUERADE NIGHT マスカレード・ナイト
Takuya Kimura and Masami Nagasawa return in the hit follow-up to Masquerade Hotel. Police detective Nitta and hotel concierge Yamagishi are reunited at the elegant Cortesia Hotel to stop a murder at a New Year’s Eve countdown party with 500 invitees in costume. Can they unveil the truth hidden behind the murderer’s mask in time? A fast-paced, entertaining who-done-it featuring an all-star cast.
The beguiling and imaginative directorial debut from actress Rena Nounen, better known as “Non”. Art student Itsuka can no longer display her graduation project because of the recent outbreak of COVID-19. With no channel for self-expression she struggles to figure out what she should be doing. With occasional visits by her parents, sister, best friend/classmate while being homebound, Itsuka gradually finds new purpose in her lock-down life. Non wrote this quirky and engaging coming-of-age story that captures that dream-like isolation of the early days of the pandemic. She also created the character's gorgeous paintings! Starring Non, Rio Yamashita, Daichi Watanabe, Karin Ono, Misayo Haruki, Daikichi Sugawara.
THE LAST 10 YEARS 余命10年
The North American premiere of Michihito Fujii’s tender, deeply moving story of the transcendent power of love. Matsuri learns she has an incurable disease and only 10 years left to live. She vows not dwell on her condition, to live her best life and, given her life expectancy, she swears not to fall in love. That is, until she goes to a school reunion and meets Kazuto… Starring Nana Komatsu, Kentaro Sakaguchi and Yuki Yamada.
IT’S A FLICKERING LIFE キネマの神様
Master director Yoji Yamada’s love letter to the golden age of the Japanese film industry based on the novel by popular prize-winning novelist Maha Harada. This heartwarming tale of love, family and friendship spanning a lifetime was nominated for multiple Japanese Academy Awards including Best Picture. Starring Kenji Sawada, Masaki Suda, Mei Nagano, Nobuko Miyamoto
LAST OF WOLVES 孤狼の血 LEVEL 2
Director Kazuya Shiraishi’s action-packed continuation of the masterful yakuza saga he launched with 2018’s The Blood of Wolves. Detective Hioka has the responsibility of keeping the yakuza gangs in check but bloody war is set to erupt when psychopathic gangster Uebayashi is released from prison vowing to avenge the death of his boss. Nominated for multiple Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor, the film interweaves ferociously violent battles and complex interpersonal drama. Unmissable for fans of the great yakuza films. Starring Tōri Matsuzaka, Nijirō Murakami, Ryōhei Suzuki
MIDNIGHT SWAN ミッドナイトスワン
Winner of the 2021 Japanese Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Lead Performance and Best Newcomer. Nagisa is a transgender woman who moves from Hiroshima to Tokyo to work as a dancer in a nightclub. Her distant niece, Ichika follows her to Tokyo and pursues ballet. Although initially reluctant, Nagisa takes care of Ichika and starts to develop maternal feelings for her for the first time. This powerful and heartrending film features shattering performances by its two leads and shines a light on the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community in Japan. Starring Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Misaki Hattori.
AND SO THE BATON IS PASSED そして、バトンは渡された
The moving story of two young women and their single parents. Yuko and her step-father Morimiya have a warm, almost sibling-like relationship and he tries to make her happy with wondrous bentos. But Yuko is feeling great pressure to play piano at the school concert. Meanwhile Mitan’s widowed father flies off to Brazil on a job leaving her in the care of his new bride, the flamboyant Rika, who turns Mitan’s entire childhood into a colorful fairy tale. But things soon get complicated… A sentimental, heartwarming melodrama full of tears, hope, and sympathy, and populated by likeable and charismatic performances. Starring Kei Tanaka, Mei Nagano, Satomi Ishihara, Kurumi Inagaki, Kenshi Okada, Nao Omori
POMPO THE CINEPHILE 映画大好きポンポさん
Pompo is the talented and gutsy producer who selects her apprehensive assistant to make his directorial debut with her latest script: a delicate drama about an aging and tormented creative genius. But the cast – a young starlet looking for her first big break and an aging superstar – make for a big challenge! It's not an action movie, but Pompo's breakneck pace, combined with the high stakes of creative fulfillment, pack in as much excitement as standard superhero fare. A hilarious and heart-felt comedy-drama that will fulfill even your wildest celluloid dreams.
THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION
Did you know Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world? Focusing on four of the leading chefs in Japan today, this documentary explores the truth behind Japan's unique and sophisticated food culture. World-renowned food experts guide the audience into the further depths of the stories behind the chefs' endless pursuit. A fascinating, mouth-watering feature fit for foodies and lovers of Japanese culinary culture. Starring Takemasa Shinohara, Natsuko Shoji, Yosuke Suga and Takaaki Sugita
INUBU: THE DOG CLUB 犬部！
Sota is a university student in the veterinary department. His apartment is full of rescued puppies including Nico, a pup that has escaped from a medical facility that uses live animals for experiments. Inspired to save more of the animals, he sets up the "Inubu" club with his veterinary department colleagues. Inubu combines serious themes of animal rights with an entertaining, heartwarming and sometimes humorous tale of friends pursuing a shared passion -- and lots of lovable animals too, of course. Starring Kento Hayashi, Taishi Nakagawa, Sakurako Ohara, Kodai Asaka, Momoko Tanabe.
Other highlights include: Daihachi Yoshida’s KIBA: THE FANGS OF FICTION 騙し絵の牙, Takahiro Horie’s SENSEI, WOULD YOU SIT BESIDE ME? 先生、私の隣に座っていただけませんか？, Tetsu Maeda’s WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR NEST EGG!? 老後の資金がありません！, Shuichi Okita’s ONE SUMMER STORY 子供はわかってあげない, Yukiko Sode’s ARISTOCRATS あのこは貴族, Hugo Sakamoto’s BABY ASSASSINS ベイビーわるきゅーれ, Takahisa Zeze’s IN THE WAKE 護られなかった者たちへ, Hayato Kawai’s FIRST GENTLEMAN 総理の夫, Takahiro Hori’s JUNK HEAD ジャンクヘッド, Masaharu Takizawa’s THE LAST GOZE 瞽女, Masaaki Taniguchi’s MUSICOPHILIA ミュジコフィリア and Takashi Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS 妖怪大戦争 ガーディアンズ.