ABOUT THE 2019 FESTIVAL
The forth annual 2019 Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival was held March 29 – April 11, 2019. All screenings where held at Row House Cinema. 2019 was a record year, introduced passes, and our attendees came in fro all over the rust belt. Nothing could be accomplished without our Film Club, those who came, and of course our sponsors.
2019 FILM SELECTIONS
New Restoration Pittsburgh Premiere
Since its release in 1973, Lady Snowblood (dir. Toshiya Fujita) has taken its place as one of the most influential Asian action films, inspiring numerous revenge thrillers in its wake, not least of which including Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series. Based on the manga of the same name, Lady Snowblood is a stylish, creative, and violent foray into the meaning of revenge and the closure (or lack thereof) that vengeance brings with it, and it does so in a visually stunning manner, bursting with color and expression amid its wintry tale.
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD
One Cut Of The Dead is a 2017 zombie comedy “workshop” film project using non-professional actors and a budget of just 3 million yen ($27,000) that went on to gross approximately 3 billion yen. It is famous for having a 36 minute long single cut!
In this 2018 animated film from Studio Ghibli veteran Kitaro Kosaka, a young girl, Okko, becomes the new junior inn keeper at her grandmother’s countryside inn. While Okko faces challenges as she prepares to be the inn’s next caretaker, nothing comes close to the challenges she faces when she discovers the welcoming spirits to reside in the inn, and that the inn’s motto of “Welcome all, reject none.” is more than just a saying.
THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL
Closing Night Film – Brew & View
This animated romantic comedy by director Masaaki Yuasa, and based on the novel of the same name, follows a night out for two unnamed university students, a fearless girl and a resilient boy as he tries to confess his feelings for her. This romantic epic sees the struggles of the boy as he does everything in his power to get to her, while she dazzles everyone around her. Filled with comedy, charming characters, and all the ridiculousness that only an animated film could possess.
NEVER-ENDING MAN: HAYAO MIYAZAKI
Hayao Miyazaki, the Academy Award-winning Japanese filmmaker, best known for co-founding Studio Ghibli and being the mastermind behind classics like My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), announced his retirement in 2013, at the age of 72. This Japanese documentary follows his life over a two-year span as he tries to find a new calling and deal with his burning desire to create, while also challenging himself to create a short film using CGI, a technology that Miyazaki has never tackled before.
Released in 2000 amid controversy, and not available in the US until 2010, Battle Royale (dir. Kinji Fukasaku) is the violent and shocking story of high schoolers stranded on a remote island and forced to murder each other to survive. Based on the manga of the same name, numerous franchises have taken Battle Royale’s core conceit to unprecedented levels of success, including The Hunger Games and Fortnite: Battle Royale, but none have matched the explosive or horrifying heights of the original.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, Shoplifters is a 2018 drama film about a low-income family that relies on shoplifting to cope with their life of poverty. The story begins when the family takes in a neighborhood girl and they must face the new challenges of integrating her into their home, and keep her hidden from those who are looking for her.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, director Mamoru Hosoda makes his place known in the upper tier of Japanese animated filmmaking with Mirai. Mirai is the story of Kun and his family. After the birth of his sister, Mirai, Kun feels jealous of the attention that she gets from their parents, and soon starts lashing out. After one of his episodes, he finds himself in his family’s garden, where time and space are warped and relatives from the past and future wander in and out.
Often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story has been a classic since its release in 1953. This masterpiece follows an aging couple’s trip to visit their grown children in Tokyo, and the generational conflict that arises as they discover how they’re seen as a burden to their family.
MODEST HEROES: PONOC SHORT FILMS THEATRE
Anime Shorts Program
Studio Ponoc, the new animation studio founded by two-time Academy Award-nominee Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) and featuring many artists from the venerable Studio Ghibli, made an immediate splash last year with its acclaimed debut film Mary and The Witch’s Flower. The studio returns this year with Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1, an ambitious anthology of three thrilling tales created by some of the greatest talents working in Japanese animation today.
LOST IN RAMEN
Opening Night Film
Lost in Ramen (Ramen Kuitee) follows three people as they endure hardships in their lives and intersect at Seiran Restaurant ramen shop. Marie is a high school student who falls into depression and suicidal thoughts after being bullied by her classmates; after Akashi’s wife dies, he closes the ramen shop they owned together; and Akahoshi gets into a car accident and is left lost in the wild.
JAPAN'S CRAZIEST TV GAMESHOWS
Clips & Shorts
Where did the idea for Battle Royale come from? Hole In The Wall, Silent Library, & American Ninja Warrior….. they aren’t American shows originally! Japanese TV Gameshows are insane and made to provide a weird, humor filled break for Japanese society. Rarely seen in the US, these shows will make you laugh for sure. They will also make you question the choices people make. But the real question is, would you go on one of these shows?
The program will be highlights & clips from a variety of game shows through the years. They have been expertly curated and put together in this wonderful compilation.