Nov 2

The 18th Japanese Film Festival in Australia

Australia’s Japanese Film Festival is the world’s biggest Japanese film festival, with the 2014 program attended by an estimated 31,800 viewers, nation-wide. In November, the film festival will begin in Sydney with over 50 films in its repertoire, with some big tickets items making their world-premier showing outside of Japan. An absolute treat for film lovers, and one you should make your way down under for. Eden Law (Fukushima-ken, 2010-11) gives you the what’s up and the low down on 2015’s 19th Japanese Film Festival.


18th Japanese Film Festival promo video, courtesy of Japan Foundation, Sydney

With so many films available, it can be difficult to decide on which you should spend your time (and your five-movie pass) on. JFF’s organisers have always chosen films to create a carefully balanced program, between thought-provoking drama, to more popular servings of comedy and gore-soaked action and horror – and of course, several anime entries, without which a Japanese film festival cannot be considered complete. Live-action adaptation of popular manga and anime series make a strong appearance – Assassination Classroom (about a class of delinquents tasked with killing their teacher, an almost-invincible tentacled monster), No Longer Heroine (about high school romances) and the rather meta Bakuman, about the trials and tribulations of making it as a manga artist.

In the cult category, Sion Sono – enfant terrible, wildcard, Japan’s Tarantino, what have you – returns with Tag, a surreal (and violent) struggle for survival that takes place through several lives and existence. Yet he surprises with Love & Peace – an equally surreal, but far more light-hearted and G-rated story about realising cherished dreams and singing animals. Not to be outdone, Sono’s sempai Takashi Miike has his high school characters endure an outlandish survival horror scenario as gods play with them for idle amusement in As the Gods Will.

A new Ghost in the Shell is the most exciting entry in the anime category, and should need no introduction. Of special mention is Miss Hokusai, the historical biography of the youngest daughter of the famous printmaker Hokusai, Katsushika Oi. Though little known today, she is said to be not only a talented artist like her father, but also a vivacious woman, full of humour and spirit.

And finally, for those seeking more weighty subject matter, the festival closes out with 100 Yen Love, Japan’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s 88th Academy Awards. Already festooned with awards for best film, director and best actress, this independent film of the unexpected blossoming of an aimless “loser” should be one to watch – yes it’s a sports film, but don’t let that put you off. Of particular excitement this year is the showing of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Ran, restored in 4K format – plenty of hipster cred there.

Check out the website ( for more on 2015 JFF, and stay tuned for reviews!

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