“THE LANGUAGE of friendship is not words but meanings,” goes a famous quote from the author Henry David Thoreau.
Those words ring true for the annual Eiga Sai Japanese Film Festival, which was launched in Manila in 1997. Festival organizer Japan Foundation Manila (JFM) was inspired by film as an accessible platform to share an appreciation of Japanese culture, language and way of life.
The latest edition commemorates two milestones: 60 years of friendship between our two countries, as well as the 20th anniversary of JFM, the language and cultural arm of the Japan Embassy in the Philippines.
Not only will a dozen recently released films be screened over a longer period (six weeks) in six key cities, but the festival has also forged an invaluable alliance with Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.
In a press statement, Cinemalaya said the partnership aims to provide both festivals with film exchange opportunities, promotional support as well as help build and educate a wider audience.
The education component involves two guest Japanese filmmakers, the esteemed director-actor Masato Harada and young talent Hiroshi Shoji. Both will have Director’s Talk sessions right after the debut of their films at the festival.
Here are three films to watch out for in this year’s Eiga Sai:
Genre: Period drama-comedy
Director: Masato Harada
In brief: The film set in the final years of the Tokugawa era, during which austerity measures have affected much of society, depicts the lives of abused women taking shelter in a Buddhist temple complex.
“Kakekomi” kicks off the festival with a by-invitation-only screening on July 7 at Shangri-La Plaza Cineplex.
2 “The Boy and the Beast”
Genre: Action-adventure animé
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
In brief: A labor-intensive piece of hand-drawn animation, the film is about an unlikely partnership between the characters in the title, whose journey toward friendship transpires against visually spectacular realms.
3 “Ken and Kazu”
Genre: Crime drama
Director: Hiroshi Shoji
In brief: Shoji’s first feature-length film, which won the Japanese Cinema Splash award at the 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival, delves into the world of drug trafficking. Critics say the director’s camerawork has flair, capturing gun-free brutality in close quarters.
The 2016 Eiga Sai will run July 7-Aug. 21. Screenings will be at Shangri-La Plaza Cineplex, Mandaluyong (July 7-17); Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay (July 8 and Aug. 6, 9, 10, 12); Abreeza Mall Cinema, Davao (July 22-24); FDCP Cinematheque, Davao (July 26-30); SM Baguio Cinema (Aug. 11-14); FDCP Cinematheque Baguio (Aug. 15); UP Film Institute, Quezon City (Aug. 17-20); and Ayala Center Cebu Cinema (Aug. 17-21).