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13 movies to catch at the Japanese Film Festival 2016


Date Posted: 05 September 2016

For fans of contemporary Japanese cinema, September is that time of the year when the Japanese Film Festival returns. Now onto its 13th installment in Malaysia, the selection of movies has become more exciting than ever, with none of them released before 2015. Not only are we getting some of the latest offerings that had recently come out in Japanese theaters, but we also get a very special and rare threat to catch some of the latest 2016 titles that had only just premiered in native Japan. As the JFF begins its first leg in the Klang Valley starting this 8 September before it moves to Penang, Kuching and finally to Kota Kinabalu, it's best to start scheduling your watch-list around these 13 movies, so that you don't miss out on seeing them on the big screen.

After the Storm



An award-winning writer past his prime, Ryota now makes a living as a private detective who gambles away his livelihood until he can't even pay for child support to his divorced wife. Making contact with his estranged ex-wife and his mother after his father dies, Ryota's only meaningful connection left to his family is his young son, as he tries to bond with him one last time.

Screened at the Un Certain Regard section of this year's Cannes, it has almost become compulsory viewing for any work by master director Hirokazu Koreeda at the JFF. This year is no exception with "After the Storm", this time comprising of a notable cast with Hiroshi Abe as the worthless father, "Like Father, Like Son" we see alumni Yoko Maki trying to rebuild her life as a single mother, and veteran actress Kirin Kiki (a name you will want to remember throughout this JFF) gracing us with her grandmotherly manner. While "Our Little Sister" was, for a lack of a better word, mild on the family drama, Koreeda is back to weather a stormy relationship of a family in flux with "After the Storm", and it is always worth waiting to see the sky clearing once Koreeda is done.
An



Sentaro is an unhappy owner of a doriyaki shop that he is barely able to keep surviving. When his notice for an assistant is answered by an old lady in her 70s, he hires her, much to his reluctance. As Tokue demonstrates her cooking of the red bean paste used as filling for the doriyaki, Sentaro's business seem to be taking for the better, but rumours of Tokue's past and her deformed hands could make things turn for the worst.

Director Naomi Kawase adapts the tear-jerking novel by Durian Sukegawa about the surviving lepers of Japan after they are legally allowed outside of their sanatoriums in 1996. Another screener for the Uncertain Regard section at Cannes in 2015, Naomi's directing of her actors and the camera is visually poetic, if not profound, but it is also largely thanks to Kirin Kiki, who brings a moving performance stuffed with sweetness and salted with tears that should be tasted by anyone who hasn't already seen "An".
Bakuman



When Akito Takagi finds a notebook of Moritaka Mashiro's drawings, Akito proposes to Moritaka that they should form a partnership to draw manga for serialisation in the Weekly Shounen Jump magazine. When Moritaka's crush also reveals her plans to be a voice actress, Moritaka aims to marry her once he becomes a successful manga artist together with Akito.

Adapted from the hit manga and anime series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, "Bakuman" is a passionate story that would interest those who wants to know the inner workings of manga artists and the dedication and sacrifices required by the craft. Directed by Hitoshi One who adds a battle tone to an already fiery premise, Takeru Satoh and Ryunosuke Kamiki take the roles of the leading duo through their blood, sweat, tears and joys of their manga journey, aided and spurred by friends and rivals that are taken right out from the pages of the original manga.
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Writer: Casey Lee

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