The 2022 Japanese Film Festival opened tonight in Sydney and is on until Wednesday 14 December. Films are in Japanese with English subtitles.
Opening the festival this year, the historical drama Dreaming of the Meridian Arc 大河への道 is a witty rewriting of Japanese history by director Kenji Nakanishi. This comedy uncovers the true story behind the man who completed the first ever map of Japan. With a cast that features in both the contemporary TV studio and parallels their characters to the surveying team of the early 19th century, we think it is an absolute gem. Apparently the other screening of this opening night film is sold out, but if Dreaming of the Meridian Arc is anything to go by you must get yourself along to some of the other films. 2022 marks the 26th year of the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) in Australia, and offers newly-released Japanese titles along with rare 35mm film screenings including free tickets. And the JFF website shows many of these terrific films sold out or selling fast. Be quick.
Documentary The Pursuit of Perfection directed by Toshimichi Saitō follows four chefs on a quest for culinary excellence, and is a must-watch for international foodies, providing a rare behind-the-scenes look of some of Tokyo’s most exclusive and acclaimed restaurants. Tickets are still available for this Saturday 10 December.
We spotted film reviewer Rolmar Baldonado from Film Critik tonight at the Japanese Film Festival opening night and he has finished our five with his 2022 top festival picks, two of them by the same director.
BLUE/ブル uses the unforgiving sport of boxing to cast a quiet and kind gaze on human life that has no clear winner. Keisuke Yoshida’s splendid direction exudes unvoiced emotions tucked away inside, including frustration at the gap between ability and passion, fear of punch drunk syndrome and feelings of camaraderie. Audiences will undoubtedly be profoundly moved by the in-depth character development, especially Urita’s emotional state as performed by acting maestro Kenichi Matsuyama. With his consecutive masterpieces in recent years, Keisuke Yoshida is at present one of Japan’s leading directors.
Intolerance 空白 captivates viewers with shocking plot developments and intricate portrayals of the behaviour and psychology of people caught in extreme situations. This unique drama deals with sublime themes that question absolution and spiritual restitution. Director and screenplay writer Keisuke Yoshida has delivered numerous masterpieces in recent years and won the script prize at a prestigious film festival. The performances are outstanding, with popular stage actor Arata Furuta capturing the father’s frightfulness and leading young actor Tori Matsuzaka portraying the void felt by the store manager.
And So The Baton Is Passed そして、バトンは渡された directed by Tetsu Maeda skillfully intertwines mysterious Rika’s story with the process of Yūko and Miitan’s maturation. The film is based on a bestseller that won the grand prize selected by Japan’s booksellers. Mei Nagano (Yūko) and Satomi Ishihara (Rika) are among Japan’s leading actors and bring brilliant charm and acting talent to the production.
While the Japanese Film Festival screens nationally, here are the details for Sydney.
Latest Releases: 7-11 December at Palace Central, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona
Special Series: 12-14 December at The Chauvel