The Japanese Film Festival Singapore (JFFS) begun in 1999.
1999 was also the year Takashi Miike’s devastating slow-burn thriller Audition and Takashi Koizumi’s After The Rain, a samurai film based on a script by Akira Kurosawa, was released. The two award-winning films exemplify the diversity and flavour that Japanese cinema has to offer – something that has audiences returning every year to JFFS for more.
Here’s a taste for what’s in store for audiences at this year’s JFFS.
Made with a shoestring budget over a period of 7 years, director Kenji Iwaisawa’s oddball anime distinguishes itself at once from your typical anime with its look. Though the backgrounds may be beautifully painted, its character design has been compared to Beavis and Butthead. On Gaku: Our Sound is centered on 3 teenage misfits who accidentally discover a powerful outlet in music, which propels them to start a band. There is a rival school, a chance for a breakthrough at an upcoming musical festival and even a girl who happens to like their music. Adding to the anime’s strange charm are voices that may be familiar to Japanese pop culture aficionados. Rock veteran Shintaro Sakamoto, 53, voices one of the trio and the rival school gang leader is voiced by comedian Naoto Takenaka, 63.
Watch On Gaku: Our Sound on 19 December, at 6:45pm.
Get your tickets here for $13.00.
Remember SMAP? Remember how the Japanese boyband took over Asia in the late nineties to the early aughts? Its most popular member, Takuya Kimura, stars in Masquerade Hotel, a whodunnit set in Hotel Cortesia, a posh European-style hotel in Tokyo. He plays a disgruntled, brash Inspector from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police tasked with solving a string of murders. Starring opposite him is actress Masami Nagasawa, who has been in the movie business since she was a teenager. She plays a strait-laced, dutiful hotel receptionist who is determined to provide guests with only the best service. Because the next murder is ostensibly slated to occur in the Cortesia, the Inspector is forced to go undercover as a front desk clerk. Will their inevitable scuffles get in the way of crime-busting? Or will it result in sparks that may set off an ill-timed romance?
Watch Masquerade Hotel tonight at 9:15pm.
Alternatively, an online version will be available shortly.
Get your tickets here for $15.00.
Like many immigrants all over the world, Chen Liang (Yulai Lu) hopes for his apprenticeship to blossom into a stable full-time job, so he can send money back home. But because he doesn’t have the proper documents, his legal status in Japan is shaky. When one of his Chinese friends is arrested for unlawful activity, he decides to stay on the straight and narrow. Liang takes on the role of a kitchen assistant to a soba chef. The grizzled soba chef (Tatsuya Fuji) is exacting and strict but he keeps his head down and works hard. A surrogate father-son relationship develops and he even makes some new friends.
But the pressures of being away from home are strong, especially when he cannot see his ailing mother, who is being looked after by his grandmother. He later learns that if he were to return home, travel back to Japan would be impossible. This sets him up for some tough decisions, especially as a family tragedy occurs. Whatever he chooses to do, there can be no looking back.
Rent Complicity here to watch it online for $9.99.
A gentle reminder to anyone who is planning to go to JFFS this year to either bring along a TraceTogether token or download the app. It’s a must if you’re planning to watch the films on the big screen!
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