It’s all about heartwarming films and inspiring documentaries in this year’s Eiga Sai, the annual Japanese film festival to be held in Manila, Cebu and Davao.
Eiga Sai is presented by Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) this July in celebration of Philippine-Japan Friendship month and the 40th year of Asean-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. The festival will run July 3-14 in Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, and Aug. 19-25 in the University of the Philippines Diliman Film Institute, Quezon City.
Outside Metro Manila, Eiga Sai will be held July 19-28 in the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Cinematheque, and July 20-28 in Abreeza Mall, both in Davao; and Aug. 7-11 in Ayala Center Cinema, Cebu. All screenings are for free.
Rolando Samson, JFM project coordinator, said the films are mostly light-hearted comedies and dramas that appeal to the youth market. These were chosen by a panel composed of Samson, JFM director Shuji Takatori and FDCP’s Bono Olgado, who attended the Eiga Sai press launch at the Shangri-La Plaza Cineplex.
According to Olgado: “Cinema has the capability to connect us, to push the creativity and capacity of the human spirit, to move us to continuously strive to do better.”
The festival also aims to strengthen cultural and diplomatic ties through cinema.
The launch featured the screening of “Always—Sunset on Third Street,” part three of the heartwarming series that tells the postwar story of Chagawa, a comic-book writer, and his colorful community. Parts one and two will also be shown in the film fest.
Eiga Sai’s lineup includes 15 films and two documentaries.
One of the animated films is “Japan, Our Homeland” by Nishizawa Ako. Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of kids Akira, Gon and Hakase who join a singing competition.
“Mai Mai Miracle” by Katabuchi Sunao is a full-length animated adaptation of the autobiographical novel of Akutagawa Prize winner Takagi Nobuko. Also set in the ’50s, the film shows the warm friendship between Shinko and Kiiko, two girls “who started on a project to stop the canals and build a lake to take care of a goldfish they had discovered.”
“Brave Story” by Chigira Koichi is an animation based on the best-selling manga by Miyabi Miyuki. It is about the adventures of Watari, a boy who “travels in search of a hidden treasure that has the power to change fate.”
“Kamui” by Sai Yoichi is live-action adaptation of a comic by Shirato Sampei. Kamui is a poor boy living in the 17th century who has to become a ninja to survive.
Shangri-La Plaza screening
The Shangri-La Plaza leg of the film fest opens with the by-invitation screening of “About Her Brother,” directed by Yamada Yoji. It is a homage to legendary director Ichikawa Kon’s film of the same title. The family drama depicts “the bond between a hardworking older sister and her younger brother, a failed performer who shows up drunk in her wedding.”
“Rinco’s Restaurant,” directed by Tominaga Mai, is based on lyricist Ogawa Ito’s debut novel. It is a fantasy with animation and musical scenes about Rinco, a woman who loses her voice and turns into cooking as source of happiness—which she passes on to her diners.
“Castle Under Fiery Skies” is an action movie by Tanaka Mitsutoshi. It is a period film set in the 1570s which shows the battles of Oda Nobunaga, a warrior who aspires to build an enormous castle on Mount Azuchi after beating the Takeda clan.
Nishikawa Miwa makes a film based on her own novel. “Dear Doctor” tells the tale of Dr. Ino, a doctor loved by mountain villagers who suddenly went missing after meeting with a terminally ill patient.
“Parade” by Yukisada Isao is a “dark, coming-of-age ensemble piece adapted from Yoshida Shuichi’s novel, which won the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize.” It is a story of a group of five young men and women and how their “peaceful communal life starts to go awry when male prostitute Satoru comes into their lives.”
Takatori explained that some of the selections will be shown only in Davao because of their different format.
Among these are “Haru’s Journey” by Kobayashi Masahiro. This 2009 family drama shows the story of Tadao, a grandpa who takes care of his granddaughter Haru, after his only daughter kills herself.
For dog lovers, there’s “Wanko—The Story of Me, My Family and My Dog.” Nakae Isamu’s film chronicles the story of Rock, a dog that goes missing after an earthquake, and how he touches the lives of the family that adopts him.
Documentaries “Light Up Nippon—Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake” and “Fukushima Hula Girls” both feature recovery efforts of the Japanese people after the 2011 tsunami.
Shangri-La Plaza will also have Japanese cultural, pop-art and photo exhibits, plus workshops throughout the month, said marketing manager Marline Dualan.
Another related activity is the Anime Film Showing featuring “5 cm per second” and “A Place Promised in Our Early Days,” on July 20-21, in SM Mall of Asia Cinema 1.
Jazz fans can watch the Unit Asia group with guest artist Noel Cabangon on July 9 at Music Museum in Greenhills, San Juan City.
“Passion and Persistence: The world of Yayoi Kusama from the Collection of Lito and Kim Camacho” exhibit of paintings, prints and sculptures will be mounted July 15 to Sept. 1 in Ayala Museum, Makati. This will be complemented with a talk by critic and curator Akira Tatehata on Aug. 10, 4 p.m.
For the full schedule, visit www.jfmo.org.ph.
Visit www.shangrila-plaza.com; call tel. 3702597 or 3702598.