Where I belong

Shabondama-posterAfter committing robbery, Shoto’s flight from the cops takes him to the mountains of Miyazaki in southern Japan where he helps an injured elderly woman. This serendipitous encounter will softly coax him into changing and set him on the path to redemption. The Japanese countryside comes to life through beautiful cinematography in this simple and unhurried reflection on what it means to have a place where to belong.

[ From Cinémathèque québécoise ]

A petty criminal (who was shaped by his environment or bad parenting) do something bad, escape to the countryside, feels guilty, meet with nice people, sees the error of his way and seeks redemption… I must say that Where I belong doesn’t feel very original as we’ve seen this type of movie often in Japanese cinema. However, it is still a nice feel-good movie. It offers a touching story, which is beautifully shot and with good acting. It’s an entertaining flick that offers a good time. Nothing more. The best part is probably that it is showcasing the nice landscapes of Miyazaki and giving us a glimpse at the Shiiba Heike Festival.

Where I belong (しゃぼん玉 / Shabondama / lit. “Soap bubble”): Japan, 2016, 108 mins; Dir./Scr.: Shinji Azuma (based on a novel by Asa Nonami); Phot.: Wataru Miyamoto; Ed.: Shinya Tadano; Music: Yuki Hara; Cast: Kazuyuki Aijima, Mina Fujii, Kento Hayashi. ©2016「しゃぼん玉」製作委員会. stars-3-0

For more information you can visit the following websites:

[ AsianWikiGoogleIMDbJFDBOfficialYoutube ]

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Capsules

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Japanese film festival 

The 36th edition of the Japanese Film Festival will be held from Friday September 20th to Sunday September 22nd at the Cinémathèque québécoise (335 De Maisonneuve Blvd East, Montreal, QC). This annual event is presented by the Japan Foundation in collaboration with the Consulate General of Japan in Montreal. It offers four free Japanese movie screenings (in Japanese with English subtitles; Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations required).

Where I belong (しゃぼん玉 / Shabondama): Japan, 2016, 108 mins; Dir./Scr.: Shinji Azuma (based on a novel by Asa Nonami); Phot.: Wataru Miyamoto; Ed.: Shinya Tadano; Cast: Kazuyuki Aijima, Mina Fujii, Kento Hayashi.

[ AsianWikiIMDbJFDBOfficialYoutube ]

After committing robbery, Shoto’s flight from the cops takes him to the mountains of Miyazaki in southern Japan where he helps an injured elderly woman. This serendipitous encounter will softly coax him into changing and set him on the path to redemption. The Japanese countryside comes to life through beautiful cinematography in this simple and unhurried reflection on what it means to have a place where to belong.

Friday September 20 at 6:30 p.m. / 18h30

The Night I Swam (泳ぎすぎた夜 / Oyogisugita yoru): Japan/France, 2017, 79 mins; Dir.: Kohei Igarashi / Damien Manivel; Phot.: Wataru Takahashi; Ed.: William Laboury; Music: Jérôme Petit; Cast: Takara Kogawa, Keiki Kogawa, Takashi Kogawa.

[ IMDbJFDBOfficial ]

In the early hours of the morning in snowy northern Japan, a boy is woken up by the noise of his father leaving for work. Later, the boy deviates from the path to school and heads towards the fish market where his father works. This Japan-France coproduction has no dialogue, no narration, but instead captivates its audience with the power of images and everyday sounds, revealing in poetic silence the charming simplicity of a child’s world.

Saturday September 21 at 2:15 p.m. / 14h15

Drowning Love (溺れるナイフ / Oboreru naifu): Japan, 2016, 111 mins; Dir.: Yûki Yamato; Scr.: Yûki Yamato, Kishu Izuchi (based on the manga by George Asakura); Phot.: Takahide Shibanushi; Ed.: Kenichi Hirai; Cast: Nana Komatsu, Masaki Suda, Daiki Shigeoka, Mone Kamishiraishi, Nazuki Amano, Mickey Curtis, Masami Horiuchi.

[ AsianWikiIMDbJFDBOfficialWikipedia ]

Two of Japan’s rising stars take on the roles of a teenage fashion model from Tokyo and a successor to a family of Shinto priests, portraying together dreams of freedom and fragile teenage love, intense and tragic.

Saturday September 21 at 4 p.m. / 16h00

Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ / Samâ uôzu): Japan, 2009, 114 mins; Dir.: Mamoru Hosoda.

[ ANNIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

When a timid high school math whiz unwittingly unlocks a rogue AI program able to destroy the real world, calling on the bonds of family and human compassion might be the only way to counter this menacing mayhem. A timely 10th anniversary screening of this Mamoru Hosoda and Madhouse masterpiece which seamlessly blends the beauty of traditional Japan with Superflat colorful computer graphics.

Sunday September 22 at 2 p.m. / 14h00

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FFM 2019

Montreal-World-Film-Festival

Monday morning, the president of the Montreal World Film Festival, Serge Losique, has announced in a brief press release that “the festival will take a break this year to better prepare the 2020 edition”. The statement mentions Losique’s poor health as the reason for this year’s cancellation of the event. This comes to no one’s surprise as the festival had been declining severely in the last few years and it was plagued with financial troubles. Let’s hope that the festival will indeed use that time to recover and that the gap will not mean the death of this once-famed international event. They also said that more details on the 2020 edition will follow shortly.

I am disappointed because I was looking forward to have my yearly dose of Japanese cinema. However, it was to be expected. I should have made arrangements to free myself to attend the Fantasia festival instead…

Press review:

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Fantasia 2019

Fantasia-2019-bannerThe 23rd edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival, the top genre film festival in North America, will be held (mostly) at the Concordia Théâtre Hall from July 11 to August 1st 2019. The festival will open with Hideo Nakata latest movie, Sadako. It will also showcase over an hundred feature films & shorts in horror, sci-fi or fantasy genres and many filmmakers and actors will be attending to introduce their production — including Yamamoto Kiyoshi (Director of Brave Father Online – Our Story of Final Fantasy XIV), Yaguchi Shinobu & Kanekoa Ryon (director and producer of Dance with me), Makoto Tezuka (dir. of The Legend of the Stardust Brothers), Takahiro Umehara (dir. & writer for Moon in the hidden woods), Nao Yoshighai (retrospective), Oshiyama Kiyotaka (dir. of the short Shishigari) and Keita Amemiya (dir. of Garo and speaker of the Master Class on Wed July 31, 2019 7:00 PM at the York Amphitheatre). Tickets will be available at Concordia’s box office and online starting July 6th.

Movies from all over the world will be presented (including five from China, five from Hong Kong, twenty-four from South Korea and two from Taiwan), but here we are interested mostly in the forty-five production from Japan:

Anime

Live-Action

This year there’s lots of horror and lots of shorts, many anime and a few titles to watch closely (like Human Lost, The Relative worlds, Garo, Gintama 2, and The island of cats).

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Japanese Film Festival

The 35th edition of the Montreal Japanese Film Festival will be held on Friday November 30th and Saturday December 1st at the Cinémathèque québécoise (web). There will be three Japanese films screened for free. The event is presented by the Japan Foundation (Toronto) and the Consulate General of Japan in Montreal. The films are in Japanese with English subtitles. Seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations is required but you’ll need to take a ticket at the box-office.

Karera_ga_Honki_de_Amu_Toki_wa-tpClose-Knit (彼らが本気で編むときは、/ Karera ga honki de amu toki wa / lit. “When they seriously knit”): Japan, drama, 2017, 127 mins; Dir.: Naoko Ogigami.

After being abandoned by her mother, 11-year-old Tomo is taken in by her uncle and his transgender girlfriend. Close-knit offers a heart-warming reflection on discrimination and ignorance and, more importantly, on the true meaning of family.

Screening on November 30 at 18:30.

[ AsianWiki / IMDb / JMDB / Official / Wikipedia / Youtube ]

Chihayafuru_Part_3-p001Chihayafuru: Musubi (ちはやふるー結びー / Chihayafuru – knot) : Japan, Youth drama, 2018, 127 min.; Dir.: Norihiro Koizumi.

The young members of a competitive karuta (classic Japanese playing cards) team stand together against the odds and the emotional turmoil they face, seeking to capture and hold on to a treasured moment forever. Can they overcome their opponents?

Screening on December 1 at 13:00.

[ AsianWiki / IMDb / Official / Wikipedia / Youtube ]

La_La_La_At_Rock_Bottom-p02La La La at Rock Bottom (味園ユニバース / Misono Yunibasu) : Japan, Drama, 2015, 103 min.; Dir.: Nobuhiro Yamashita.

Redemption is key in this humorous story about an amnesiac thug turned singer. A powerful and moving tale that reveals human complexity, baring charms and faults alike, and will make anyone want to believe in second chances. Added bonus: great musical moments!

Screening on December 1 at 15:15.

[ AsianWiki / IMDb / Official / Wikipedia / Youtube ]

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Festival du Nouveau Cinema 2018

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The 47th edition of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema (FNC) will be held in various Montreal theatres (Cinema Impérial, du Musée, du Parc, Quartier Latin, Theatre Maisonneuve, Cinémathèque Québecoise, etc.) from October 3 to 14, 2018. In their own words, this festival is a gathering to “celebrate our shared passion for film, (…) for cinema of all types, from offbeat, one-of-a-kind niche works to crowd-pleasers to daringly innovative big events”.  It is “resolutely forward-looking, has long been the unfailing advocate of new technologies“ making it “the best place around to preview the cinema of tomorrow”!

This year, it will offers over three-hundred movies including ten from Japan (click on the links for details & schedule):

Press review:

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FFM 2018: Wrap-up

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It has been a good festival this year.

There was no scuffle to get the credentials, no problem with the schedule or screenings and an excellent selection of titles. 

Of course, it could be better. Apparently they brought back the Movie Market (and the press room?). I heard it was on the third floor of the Imperial, but couldn’t find how to get to it… In the past, they were always the practical places to access press information and to be able to screen video on our own schedule. However, what I really miss is the press conferences where we could have direct access to the film crew and cast of the movies in competition. Beside that, for me, the festival is already all I needs it to be.

As long as there’s good movies to watch, people should be happy. At least, as long as there’s Japanese movies, I’ll be happy. Although, come to think of it, the festival deserves a bigger audience. In the past, I used to see lots of people from the local Japanese community, but I saw very few of them this year. Most of the movie I’ve screened this year had barely an audience of a dozen people! Of course, there was absolutely no advertising this year and very little media coverage, so it certainly didn’t helped. And the last couple of years have had a fair share of scheduling and screening problems which might also have discouraged people from attending this year. If there is a festival next year (the same question come back every year lately), this really must be improved.

Another needed improvement, beside more advertising, would be more screens. The festival could use at least a couple more rooms of the Quartier Latin (if not the entire floor like in the good old years). However, for that to happen, the festival would need more budget. Not to put on lavish parties, but to make sure that all the movies can be screened at least a couple of times. Why not giving the festival a chance and give it again at least some subsidies?

The festival certainly has its share of detractors. People who don’t think it can improve or who want to see something else in its stead. Strangely, most of the criticism seems to come from the anglophone community (for example, the articles in The Gazette appears to be quite hostile). However, I don’t think that the majority of people in or around the local movie industry want the festival to continue in its downward spiral of death. But we don’t want a glamorous festival like Cannes or Toronto either (yeah, it’s nice to see Brad Pitt or the latest blockbuster with its load of stars, but what’s the use if that movie is gonna by in all theatres two weeks later?). Personally, I want a festival where I can see movies I couldn’t see anywhere else. Movies from all around the world. A festival that gives their chances to young or unknown directors, to small productions. A festival that doesn’t exclude stars, but that is not built around them. That’s what the festival was in the past and I think this formula can still works. There is no other festival like this one. And we can still mend its wounds. We must. Of course, every parties will need to water down its position a little. The government (local, provincial or federal) must look past previous disagreements and accept to provide a little help. And Losique needs to let go of his creation and prepare some sort of succession. Pass on the mantle while still remaining in the background to provide his knowledge and wisdom. If he doesn’t do that, the festival will surely die with him… We’ve seen a little improvement this year, so let’s hope it can continue in that direction…

All in all, this year, I’ve succeeded to watch five of the eight Japanese movies. I am pretty happy with this score. The selection included a great variety: a samurai movie, a docudrama-style movie, a comedy, a yakuza movie and a biopic — I wish I could have added to my score card the documentary, the action movie and the scary co-production!  And almost all the titles I’ve seen were good movies — save one which was a disappointment. Beside this last entry, I was able to write seven articles (including five movie comments) about the festival (which represents more articles than La Presse, Le Devoir or The Gazette each wrote about the FFM !).

Please read our other articles on the festival:

Your can also check the review of the Japanese movies at the FFM by Claude R. Blouin (in French: “FFM 2018: Cinq témoins japonais de la condition humaine” on Shomingeki.org)

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The festival’s awards:

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