The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme, the largest programme focusing on Japanese cinema in the UK returns in 2017, touring to 15 cities nationwide.

Taking inspiration from Charlie Chaplin’s famous quote “Life is a desire, not a meaning”, the programme features an all-encompassing introduction to Japanese cinema through the prism of “desires, hopes and impulses”.

From the newly released work, The Mohican Comes Home (2016)  by Shuichi Okita to classic example Flora on the Sand (1964) by Ko Nakahira,  this year’s programme  spans a myriad of genres to present the multiplicity of ‘wanting’ in all its guises and explore a theme that is both prevalent and universal.

Also showcasing younger Japanese filmmakers’ talents as well as a popular anime and rare documentary, the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2017 promises to not only capture trends in Japanese cinema but also provide a vivid insight into what drives human action.

Programme for screenings at ICA, London:

Pale Moon (Kami no tsuki)

Daihachi Yoshida, 2014

3 Feb 2017

6.30pm

Ordinary housewife and bank employee Rika (Rie Miyazawa) turns to a life of crime by embezzling money from clients’ accounts in order to please her young lover. A mischievous dark drama adapted from the bestselling novel by Mitsuyo Kakuta.

 

Destruction Babies (Destruction Babies)

Tetsuya Mariko, 2016

3 Feb 2017

8.55pm

Delinquent runaway Taira (Yuya Yagira, Nobody Knows) aimlessly roams the streets picking fights with random bystanders. Rallied on by a high schooler, Taira’s street-side scuffles soon turn into a sinister game. Tetsuya Mariko won the Prize for the Best Emerging Director, Locarno International Film Festival for this debut work.

 

Lady Maiko (Maiko wa redii)

Masayuki Suo, 2014

4 Feb 2017

1.00pm

A My Fair Lady-esque musical directed by Masayuki Suo (Shall We Dance?) capturing the aspirations and struggles of naïve country bumpkin Haruko who strives to become a maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto.

 

Flying Colours (Birigyaru)

Nobuhiro Doi, 2015

4 Feb 2017

3.35pm

Bottom-of-the-class Sayaka enrols in a cram school to improve her grades but soon sets her sights on passing the entrance exam for Japan’s prestigious Keio University. Based on a nonfiction bestseller, this film depicts Japan’s highly competitive and demanding university entrance exams.

 

The Mohican Comes Home (Mohikan kokyo ni kaeru)

Shuichi Okita, 2016

4 Feb 2017

6.00pm

Deadbeat rocker Eikichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) returns to his home on a remote island with news that his girlfriend Yuka (Atsuko Maeda) is pregnant. Shortly after, Eikichi’s old-school father becomes bedridden and it is up to helpless Eikichi to make his father happy.

 

Odd Obsession (Kagi)

Kon Ichikawa, 1959

4 Feb 2017

8.45pm

Winner of the Cannes Special Jury Prize in 1960, this darkly comic drama follows an elderly man with a decreased libido who attempts to sexually satisfy his captivating, younger wife. Based on Junichiro Tanizaki’s sensual and controversial 1956 novel Kagi (“The Key”).

 

A Sparkle of Life (San san)

Bunji Sotoyama, 2013

5 Feb 2017

1.00pm

Tae, a 77-year-old widow, signs up with a matchmaking service in pursuit of a last chance at love in this romantic comedy, following one pensioner’s attempt to inject a ‘spark’ into her life. A film exploring the hopes and dreams of Japan’s aging population.

 

A Silent Voice (Koe no katachi)

Naoko Yamada, 2016

5 Feb 2017

2.40pm

An emotional and beautifully animated film following young Shoya, a boy tormented by his past bullying of deaf classmate Shoko. Shoya decides he must see Shoko once more to atone for his sins, but is it already too late?

 

Pieta in the Toilet (Toire no Pieta)

Daishi Matsunaga, 2015

5 Feb 2017

5.10pm

Young failed painter Hiroshi falls into the depths of despair when he discovers he is incurably ill. One day he meets a teenage girl whose strong will in life gradually sheds light on his own. Inspired by the ‘God of Manga’ Osamu Tezuka’s last diary entry.

 

Kabukicho Love Hotel (Sayonara Kabukicho)

Ryuichi Hiroki, 2014

5 Feb 2017

7.50pm

A love hotel in Kabukicho, Tokyo’s well-known entertainment district conveniently conceals people with problems; a cleaner who lives with a criminal at large, a pimp and a girl who has run away from home. An ordinary day begins at this extraordinary hotel…

 

A Sparkle of Life (San san)

Bunji Sotoyama, 2013

7 Feb 2017

2.00pm

Tae, a 77-year-old widow, signs up with a matchmaking service in pursuit of a last chance at love in this romantic comedy, following one pensioner’s attempt to inject a ‘spark’ into her life. A film exploring the hopes and dreams of Japan’s aging population.

 

A Stitch of Life (Tsukuroi tatsu hito)

Yukiko Mishima, 2015

7 Feb 2017

6.00pm

Following in her grandmother’s footsteps, dressmaker Ichie (Miki Nakatani) tailor-makes clothes for each client using an old sewing machine. One day, a department store asks to turn her clothing into a brand – will Ichie succumb to this big offer?

 

The Mohican Comes Home (Mohikan kokyo ni kaeru)

Shuichi Okita, 2016

7 Feb 2017

8.00pm

Deadbeat rocker Eikichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) returns to his home on a remote island with news that his girlfriend Yuka (Atsuko Maeda) is pregnant. Shortly after, Eikichi’s old-school father becomes bedridden and it is up to helpless Eikichi to make his father happy.

 

Flora on the Sand (Suna no ue no shokubutsugun)

Ko Nakahira, 1964

8 Feb 2017

8.45pm

An innovative and erotically charged drama about Ichiro, a man who stumbles into an unsettling affair with a young woman, Akiko, and her sister. Based on a novel by Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, the film foreshadows Nikkatsu’s lucrative ‘Roman Porno’ genre.

 

Tsukiji Wonderland (Tsukiji wandarando)

Naotaro Endo, 2016

9 Feb 2017

6.30pm

Discover the wonderland of the world’s largest fish market at the heart of Japanese cuisine for over 80 years. A documentary capturing the pride and determination of the people working at Tsukiji prior to its planned closure.

 

Someone’s Xylophone (Dareka no mokkin)

Yoichi Higashi, 2016

9 Feb 2017

8.40pm

Seemingly happy middle-aged housewife Sayoko becomes hopelessly infatuated with her young hairdresser Kaito, an interest which quickly becomes unhealthy. This latest film by legendary director Yoichi Higashi delves deep into the mind of an ordinary woman who acts upon her hidden desires.

Discover more about the events programme and the confirmed Special Guests attending the event via the official website.

Which title are you looking forward to discovering over the course of the Film Festival?? Share your thoughts in the comments below!