Traveling” to Japan and showing Japanese culture through films are the goals of the annual Japanese Film Festival. For its 2022 virtual edition, festival director Masafumi Konomi also invited viewers to check out the “good-looking Japanese oppas.”
The free event, after all, started on Valentine’s Day, and is ongoing until Feb. 27 on the festival website (jff.jpf.go.jp). There are 20 films, and Konomi recommended watching “ReLIFE,” a 2017 Japanese live-action adaptation of a manga series, directed by Takeshi Furusawa. It stars actors Taishi Nakagawa, Mahiro Takasugi, Yudai Chiba, Kenshō Ono, and actresses Yūna Taira, Elaiza Ikeda and Sae Okazaki.
“It is a romantic comedy with a love essence, and it’s interesting how it discusses how one person would live one’s life again,” Konomi said during the recent Zoom launch. Singer Aisaku Yokogawa served as an interpreter.
For a date movie, Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) director Ben Suzuki suggested watching “Her Love Boils Bathwater,” a 2016 Japanese drama directed by Ryōta Nakano, which was the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, and a crowd favorite when the Eiga Sai festival was still held in cinemas before the pandemic.
“It is a heartwarming, deep movie about true love … and it brings the message of family love,” Suzuki said, adding that holding the Japanese film festival online since 2020 has also allowed JFM to reach new audiences and more viewers at home.
Each film can only be viewed once. To watch, visit jff.jpf.go.jp/watch/jffonline2022/philippines and create an account. Choose a film and make sure to finish it within 48 hours. The lineup is a mix of new movies and returning favorites, covering comedy, thriller, sci-fi, history, documentaries and anime.
“It’s a Summer Film!” by director Soushi Matsumoto is a coming-of-age film with sci-fi elements. It’s the story of a girl who loves samurai films so much that she convinces a mysterious boy to make a film. “Awake,” a 2020 movie by director Atsuhiro Yamada, discusses a game between an AI and a human.
“Under the Open Sky” is a yakuza drama directed by Miwa Nishikawa, but more on what happens to a yakuza member after being released from prison after 13 years. The multiawarded film is based on “Mibuncho,” a novel by Naoki Prize-winning author Saki Ryuzo.
Japanese food in films
Prepare some Japanese food while watching movies featuring delicious Japanese favorites, such as “The God of Ramen,” a 2013 documentary directed by Takashi Innami on how renowned ramen chef Kazuo Yamagishi started his legendary ramen shop in Tokyo.
“Bread of Happiness” is a 2012 Japanese film directed by Yukiko Mishima featuring the beautiful Hokkaido scenery across four seasons, and lots of delicious bread made with seasonal ingredients with “healing” properties.
A 2020 period movie by director Haruki Kadokawa, “Mio’s Cookbook” stars Mio an orphan who found her passion in the kitchen and became a cook, and her best friend Noe, who became a courtesan (geisha) in Yoshiwara, one of Japan’s red-light districts.
“The Chef of South Polar” is a 2009 comedy by director Shuichi Okita centered on members of a research expedition and how they were able to eat fine food in such snowy conditions.
Other movies to watch are “Masked Ward,” a 2020 thriller and book adaptation by director Hisashi Kimura; “Aristocrats,” a 2020 drama by director Yukiko Sode; and “Ito,” a 2021 movie by director Satoko Yokohama about a shy country girl who gets a job in a maid café.
Also check out the animations “Time of Eve—the Movie” and “Patema Inverted,” documentary “Sumodo: The Successors of Samurai” on sumo wrestlers, comedy films “Happy Flight” and “Ozland,” heartwarming fantasy “Until the Break of Dawn,” period film “The Floating Castle” and the classic film “Rashomon.”
Feb. 22 talk
JFM held on Feb. 14 the first part of the “Let’s Talk about Japanese Films!” series with professors Daisuke Miyao and Nick Deocampo, film director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo and moderator Tito Valiente. The second part on Feb. 22 will feature young film critics Skilty Labastilla, Princess Kinoc, Janus Nolasco and Stephanie Mayo, to be moderated by Richard Bolisay.
Apart from featuring the “elegance of the Japanese life” and promoting tourism, Suzuki said the festival also aims to pique the interest of new Filipino filmmakers into creating films set in Japan, such as the surprise hit “Kita Kita,” a 2017 independent rom-com directed by Bernardo.