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:: Spotlight :: 2011 Japanese Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The 15th Japanese Film Festival is set to return for another bumper Melbourne season of the latest Japanese films guaranteed to captivate audiences. The Japanese Film Festival, run by the Japan Foundation Sydney, is excited to announce that the Festival will expand to a second venue, Hoyts Melbourne Central, in addition to ACMI, to accommodate the growing audience numbers. With over 30 Australian premieres in the line-up, here's a sneak peek into the 2011 program:

Abacus and Sword is about a samurai with a difference, Naoyuki spends his days on an unusual battleground, wielding an equally unlikely weapon; continuing the laughs is A Honeymoon in Hell: Mr. & Mrs. Oki's Fabulous Trip - when a freewheeling fantasy ruptures the monotony of daily life for a newly married couple, there's no telling what will happen next; and there's fun for the whole family too with the action comedy Ninja Kids!!! directed by the much loved Takashi Miike (13 Assassins).

There is a strong collection of Japanese drama this year as well, including Star Watching Dog in which the final footsteps of a man and his loyal dog lead a stranger toward a new life; The Fallen Angel about an internal war between detachment and desire which fuels and tortures an aspiring artist; In His Chart in which a young doctor struggles to remain true to himself amid the demands of his profession; The Last Ronin a samurai film inspired by the legendary story of the 47 Ronin (“Chushingura”), The Last Ronin depicts the untold heroism of one man charged to live; and then there's drama with a twist of thriller with Villain - in the world of online dating, what you seek is not always what you find.

Drama is given an extra hand with these two true stories: Oba, the Last Samurai - set in Saipan, 1944-45. Captain Sakae Oba serves Imperial orders with ferocious ability and an iron will, leading his troops to consistently outwit enemy forces; and Railways in which a hard-working businessman is forced to reassess his priorities, bringing about life-changing results for himself and his family.

Sci-fi fans will be happy with this year's line-up including; GANTZ an action, sci-fi fantasy about an enigmatic black orb who enlists the semi-dead on missions. A futuristic game-like reality where the only way to survive is to kill; and GANTZ: Perfect Answer in which five months have passed and Kurono and Kato are summoned by Gantz for their next mission: to kill a human girl, Kurono's friend, Tae; then there's Space Battleship Yamato, in which an ex-pilot Kodai is flung back into action after he discovers what may be the last hope to save the scorched and battle-scarred Earth from destruction.

And of course a Japanese Film Festival wouldn‘t complete without some Anime and this year's knock out is Arrietty from Studio Ghibli. Just 10 cm tall, Arrietty Clock and her family are 'borrowers’ who live a peaceful life, creating their home using items borrowed from a household of humans whilst trying to remain unseen.

As part of the Festival this year there will be special screenings of two films that have focused on major previous earthquakes in Japan. Under the banner ‘Finding hope through film’, the sessions will be a tribute to the recent natural disaster that occurred in Japan and also to encourage hope in rebuilding. Yamakoshi: The Recovery of a Tiny Japanese Village and The Town's Children will screen on Wednesday November 30, followed by a panel discussion with special guests Hirotaka Matsune (Cinematographer, Yamakoshi: the Recovery of a Tiny Japanese Village), Tsuyoshi Inoue (Director, The Town's Children) and Mitsuhiro Kyota (Producer, The Town's Children). Save the Children is the charity partner for these screenings.

MELBOURNE EVENT DETAILS
November 29 - December 6 2011
ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square
Hoyts Melbourne Central, Melbourne Central Shopping Centre

All the latest news and updates will be available from the Japanese Film Festival's official website

For more information, visit

www.japanesefilmfestival.net