Japan Foundation Programme 2020

The UK’s largest festival of Japanese cinema is back for its 17th edition under the concept of ‘happiness’.

Happiness, though universal in its importance, is felt so subjectively by humankind that the definition of the concept is still very elusive. And yet, the search for happiness has long provided Japanese cinema with a staple theme, and it is within its framework that the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020 has been curated.

Embracing the rich and complex spectrum of emotions that go hand in hand with this concept, the programme seeks to present the highs and lows experienced in pursuit of happiness in Japan, showcasing diverse cinematic voices as they shine a light on stories of love, social inclusion, the resilience of humankind through times of hardship, and non-conventional paths to achieving and maintaining joy.

Since 2004, the Japan Foundation has showcased, in close partnership with distinguished film venues across the nation, some of the finest Japanese films in order to introduce their versatility and uniqueness to the UK. With a line-up of contemporary titles that have never had a UK release, documentaries, anime, and classic masterpieces, there is always something for everybody.

Ride Your Wave きみと、波にのれたら

After young firefighter Minato (Katayose Ryota) rescues avid surfer Hinako (Kawaei Rina), the two fall in love. But Minato’s life is cut short in an accident at sea causing the distraught Hinako to stay away from the ocean; until the day she hums their song and he appears in the water…

And Your Bird Can Sing きみの鳥はうたえる

A gritty coming-of-age drama depicting the lives of a hapless bookshop assistant (Emoto Tasuku), his co-worker (Ishibashi Shizuka), and housemate (Sometani Shota) as the carefree trio fight the sense of being adrift, hedonistically enjoying nightly escapades around their hometown of Hakodate. But their happy days hinge on a delicate balance.

Click to view And Your Bird Can Sing

Jesus 僕はイエス様が嫌い

Having relocated from the big city to a rural town, timid Yura (Sato Yura) feels isolated in his new Christian school. Initially sceptical of the new worshipping practice, he begins to have apparitions of a tiny, mute Jesus who seems to answer his prayers. But he should be careful what he wishes for…

Click to view Jesus

Ten Dark Women 黒い十人の女

Progressive for the time of its production, this black comedy follows the undoing of a married TV producer and womaniser as the women in his life join forces in conspiring to kill him. Starring many of Japan’s biggest film stars, this stylish work by the director of Tokyo Olympiad is a rare treat.

Click to view Ten Dark Women

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