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:: Spotlight :: 2010 Japanese Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

From romance to chilling thrillers and Samurai sagas, the 14th Japanese Film Festival will screen a variety of Australian premieres from some of Japan’s most talented filmmakers. Opening the 14th festival will be Berlin Film Festival Closing Night Film and Golden Camera winner About Her Brother, the new film from internationally acclaimed director Yoji Yamada (Twilight Samurai, Love and Honor, Tora-san series). Ginko’s younger brother Tetsuro, a failed comedian, is the oddball of the family. Embarrassing, loud and plain inappropriate at times causes Ginko to disown him. The two reunite when she discovers Tetsuro is terminally ill. Tetsuro’s impending death marks the beginning of love and toleration. About Her Brother is a heartfelt story of the bonds between a brother and sister, traversing the spectrum of emotions from laughter to tears of sadness.

This year’s festival has a number of films focusing on strong female characters; Zero Focus is a suspenseful murder-mystery, when the newly hitched Kenichi fails to return from a business trip his wife Teiko goes in search of her missing husband onto to discover terrifying truths on her pursuit. Flowers traces the journey of six women from three different generations in their respective periods. The result is a beautiful portrait of the dramatic changes which have occurred in Japan from the 1930s to the present.

Connoisseurs of samurai sagas should immediately recognise the name Shuhei Fujisawa who is renowned for portraying timeless period samurai classics. The festival will screen the movie adaptation of his latest novel, Sword of Desperation. After murdering Lady Renko to end her evil reign, Sanzaemon must now face the consequences. Nominated for a Japanese Academy Award for Best Picture earlier this year, Villon’s Wife is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Osamu Dazai, and explores a long-suffering woman’s relationship with her talented but self-destructive writer husband in post-war Tokyo.

Cinema-goers familiar with Japan’s unique brand of chilling thrillers will welcome the Australian premiere of Confessions, Japan’s selection for the best foreign-language film category at the 2011 Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Awards ceremony. Devastated mother and teacher Moriguchi Sensei is looking for the murderer of her four year old daughter. In a series of cruel, horrific acts, Confessions is a disturbing film that plunges into a world of obsession, retribution and vengeance.

For those looking for something a little more comforting the program also features a number of feel-good dramas. Stir-fried tomato and egg, crab dumplings and steamed sea perch are just some of the ingredients to make Flavour of Happiness. After a stroke incident, Wan takes Takako, a widow and persistent food-lover, to be his apprentice that later grows into a father-daughter relationship. Teaching her all the basics, the pair travel to China for Wan’s secret ingredient.

The Festival will run from December 2-7 2010. All screenings will be held at ACMI in Federation Square, Melbourne. For full program details check here
Tickets will be on sale from November 4 here

The Japanese Film Festival is managed by the Japan Foundation. The Japan Foundation aims to promote cultural and intellectual exchange between Japan and other nations through a diverse range of programs and events. The Japan Foundation, Sydney runs a gallery space, library and Japanese language courses for all levels catering from beginner to advanced. The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 with a global network of 23 offices in 21 countries. The Australian office was founded in 1977.

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