Japan Foundation Los Angeles provides high-quality Japanese film screenings every second and fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the JFLA Auditorium, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles. This month’s schedule:
• March 8 — “A Day on the Planet” (110 minutes, 2003), a slice-of-life film captivating in its mundane glory. Seven friends gather at Masamichi’s (Shuji Kashiwabara) house in Kyoto, where he’ll soon begin graduate studies. All of them college students: Nakazawa (Satoshi Tsumabuki), his adorable girlfriend Maki (Rena Tanaka), Nakazawa’s best friend Keito (Ayumi Ito), insecure handsome guy Kawachi (Toshinobu Matsuo), the scruffy Nishiyama (Masaki Miura) and the seemingly detached Sakamoto (Atsushi Ishino). Bottles are emptied, but the night is still young. Breaking news about a whale stranded on a beach and a man (Koji Okura) stuck between two buildings are broadcast live on TV.
It is just another day in their lives, and yet so many things happen; short precious moments, fleeting thoughts, mundane events, unusual incidents, both trivial and significant, whether they’re experienced in their hearts or in the real world around them. The night slowly progresses and when they cross that hazy line between today and tomorrow, they find themselves greeted by the new morning of a new day.
Talk session after screening with original author Tomoka Shibasaki.
Japanese title: “Kyou no Dekigoto” (きょうのできごと)
• March 22 — “Persona Non Grata” (139 minutes, 2015), which is about a decision that changed the world. Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara (Toshiaki Karasawa) hopes to be posted in the Soviet Union with using his mastery of the Russian language and intelligence but is denied entry into the country and sent to Lithuania. In Kaunas, he continues gathering intelligence on European affairs with his Polish partner.
In 1939 when Germany invades Poland and incites World War II, hordes of Jewish refugees oppressed by the Nazis turn to Sugihara for visas. With no approval from the Japanese government and despite putting career and family at great risk, he decides to start issuing transit visas to the refugees.
Handsomely mounted by Japanese American director Cellin Gluck, this film is long overdue recognition of “Japan’s Schindler,” the only Japanese recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government and honored at Yad Vashem.
Q&A after screening with the director.
Japanese title: “Sugihara Chiune” (杉原千畝)
Both films are in Japanese with English subtitles. Free admission. Reservations not required. Street parking available. Info: (323) 761-7510, www.jflalc.org