Listen up and listen good. Happiness is a state of mind, suckers. Which is our way of introducing the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme for 2020. And we don’t mind telling you, the whole prospect is making us glow from the inside for some great Japan touring cinema. Happy indeed.
The Japan Foundation touring programme is at the Exeter Phoenix from March 4 to March 25 for seven films and one director’s Q&A.
And you guessed it, central to the concept of this the 17th edition of Japanese cinema touring the UK, is happiness.
Subtitled ‘Joy and Despair in Japanese Cinema’, you can guess this isn’t going to be happy, happy, happy all the way through.
“Happiness, though universal in its importance, is felt so subjectively by humankind that the definition of the concept is still very elusive,” say the Japan Film Foundation people.
“And yet, the search for happiness has long provided Japanese cinema with a staple theme.
“Embracing the rich and complex spectrum of emotions that go hand in hand with this concept, the programme seeks to present the highs and lows experienced in pursuit of happiness in Japan, showcasing diverse cinematic voices as they shine a light on stories of love, social inclusion, the resilience of humankind through times of hardship, and non-conventional paths to achieving and maintaining joy.”
Get ready for a cinematic emotional roller coaster.
Bento Harassment (PG), Wednesday March 4
“This story of a mother’s love will ring true to all teens growing up and the mothers that stand beside them and offers a fresh twist on a real-life blog loaded with intergenerational strife.”
Jesus (12A) Wednesday March 4
Winner of the 66th San Sebastian International Film Festival New Directors Award. Having relocated from the big city to a rural town, timid Yura (SATO Yura) feels isolated in his new Christian school. Initially sceptical of the new worshipping practice, he begins to have apparitions of a tiny, mute Jesus who seems to answer his prayers. But he should be careful what he wishes for
Sea of Revival (15), Wednesday March 11
In a bid to rid himself of his crippling gambling addiction, Ikuo (KATORI Shingo) moves to his partner’s coastal hometown in an area recovering from the devastating 2011 earthquake. Initially adapting to the new environment, his vice soon catches up to him in a vicious cycle.
Little Nights, Little Love (15), Sunday March 15
Sato (MIURA Haruma) is a singleton in his late 20s, longing for the perfect meet-cute to kick start his love life. One day, he meets Saki (TABE Mikako) in an unlikely encounter on the street, sparking a romantic connection. Is it a miracle? Based on a story by one of Japan’s most popular novelists, the story asks what is necessary in attaining happiness in a relationship.
I Go Gaga, My Dear (PG), Wednesday March 18
Filmmaker Nobutomo begins to notice gradual changes affecting her nonagenarian mother. Turning the camera on her parents’ life, she presents an intimate portrait of the highs and lows of a family living with Alzheimer’s and the reality of geriatric care in Japan’s super aging society.
A Banana? At This Time of Night? (12A) + Q&A with director Maeda Tetus Sunday 22 March
Yasuaki (OIZUMI Yo) doesn’t let muscular dystrophy slow him down. A charming and eternally positive man, he is determined to live an independent life and fulfil his dreams with the help of coerced volunteers Misaki (TAKAHATA Mitsuki) and Tanaka (MIURA Haruma). Based on a true story.
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler (12A) Wednesday 25 March
At Hyakkaoh Private Academy students are ranked on their gambling abilities rather than grades. The coveted prize for becoming the ultimate gambling champion is a ‘blank future’ that will give the winner autonomy over their life after graduation. Who will win happiness by betting on their lives?
Get a full run down of the Japan touring cinema films, the times and the tickets at the Exeter Phoenix site.