Category: 10th Japanese Film Festival

Japanese Film Festival Day Nine: The Stars Converge & Josee, the Tiger and the Fish

I missed days 6, 7 & 8 of the festival; I needed my down time. Day 6 was the student forum. By all accounts it was good. Day 7 saw the J-Horror Night, which nothing would have got me near. Its first movie, Ghost Train, was given rankings varying from “awesome” to “so bad it’s good” and its second, The Neighbour Number 13, was alternately ranked “arty and confusing” and “amazing”. Day 8 saw the movies Aegis (“made of boredom and lose”) and Ubume (“confused a complicated story for a good one”).

So I returned refreshed and ready to fight for Day 9, the penultimate day of the festival! Fortunately enough for me, it featured one of my picks of the festival. The other film wasn’t so bad either.

Japanese Film Festival Day Five: Glass Rabbit

This was the day billed as “children’s day”. I attended only one of the three films – although I did come back on Day 10 for the encore of Swing Girls. Sadly, I know no one who went to see Boy Meets Ghost; its quality shall forever remain a mystery.

The film I did see was a parade of recycled crying animation, but it was good nonetheless.

Japanese Film Festival Day Four: The Mamiya Brothers and La Maison de Himiko

Of the four movies offered on day four of the Japanese Film Festival, I attended only two. I am, after all, only human. Two of the films looked quite heavy. They were Face of Jizo (described by my comrade Oliver as “good, but more like a play than a movie”) and Castle of Sand (“excellent,” says Oliver). I would have liked to see Castle of Sand, but … until next time.

The two films that I did see were a combination of the distinctly strange and the powerful yet emotionally distant.

Japanese Film Festival Day One: Always – Sunset on Third Street

The tenth annual Japanese Film Festival is the fourth that I’ve attended, and it’s certainly grown since I first attended, one month out of high school. Featuring 19 films instead of the customary 8-10, this is the first time I’ve not been able to see all of them.

The opening night, at the Festival’s new Greater Union George Street location and open to the general public for the first time, was introduced by Japan’s Consulate General to Sydney. He spoke of the appeal of Japan’s films lying in that they are made specifically for Japanese people, as opposed to the determined worldwide demographics of Hollywood.
This is not solely the domain of Japan, of course; films where the characters truly belong to their surroundings have long been favourites of mine. That’s why a lot of independent films work: Little Miss Sunshine, despite featuring an Australian actress as one of its leads, had a quintessentially American feel. I’m a fan of the milieu film, and Japan has no shortage of those.

Always happens to exist in one of my favourite subgenres of Japanese film: nostalgic pieces about post-war Japan, presented in a fashion so romantic that it may never have even existed. This is a subject that I have managed to touch on with semi-frequency on Anime Pilgrimage.
Like many Japanese films, it’s extreme in its sentimentality. I don’t quite understand why “sentimental” became a negative adjective, because when the sentimentality isn’t false it can tug at your heart without making you feel manipulated (that manipulation of emotion was precisely why I couldn’t stand Finding Nemo).
It’s a film of broad characters, but of the variety that have become known and beloved all throughout Japan. Like so many of the films that they show at these festivals, I had the beginnings of tears in my eyes at the end. We call that a victory.