Japan Film Festival L.A. Starts This Week


A scene from "The Billion Yen Jackpot."

The Japan Film Festival Los Angeles 2011 will be held this weekend and next weekend in Hollywood, Little Tokyo and Orange County.

To kick off the festival, a gala party will be held Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. at 16901 S. Western Ave. in Gardena. For information, email [email protected] or call (310) 497-6660.

Dates and venues:

Friday and Saturday, April 8-9, at New Beverly Cinema, 7165 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles

• “A Good Husband,” April 8 at 7 p.m.

• “Birthright,” April 8 at 9:40 p.m.

• “Minus by Minus,” April 9 at 11:30 a.m.

• “Asakusa Daydreams,” April 9 at 1:50 p.m. (Director Kinshiro Ogino is scheduled to appear)

• “The Knot,” April 9 at 4 p.m.

• “The Billion Yen Jackpot,” April 9 at 6 p.m.

• “The Neighbor,” April 9 at 8 p.m. (Directors Katsuhito Kobayashi, Kenji Kobayashi are scheduled to appear)

• Short Film Series, April 9 at 10:20 p.m. (Lisa Takeba, director of “Summer Bookmobile,” is scheduled to appear)

Sunday, April 10, at East West Players, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles

• “Ashes to Honey,” 10:15 a.m.

• “Takamine,” 1 p.m.

• “Shodo Girls: Blue Blue Sky,” 3:15 p.m. (Producer Shoichi Kawahara is scheduled to appear)

• “Takamine,” 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 16, at Starplex Cinema 5, 4626 Barranca Parkway, Irvine

• “The Back of Destiny,” “Twice Bombed, Twice Survived,” 12 p.m. (Director Hidetaka Inazuka is scheduled to appear at this screening and the following screening)

• “Twice Bombed: The Legacy of Yamaguchi Tsutomu,” 2:15 p.m.

• “Shodo Girls: Blue Blue Sky,” 4:15 p.m.

• “The Billion Yen Jackpot,” 6:50 p.m.

Sunday, April 17, at Yamaha Music Center, 4620 Barranca Parkway, Irvine

• “Ashes to Honey,” 12 p.m.

• Short Film Series, 2:30 p.m.

“This year we will be screening about 20 films, including movies that were offered from the general public,” said a festival spokesperson. “As we would like to have many people watching movies … we have added English subtitles to every film.”

Japan Film Festival Los Angeles will donate profits to earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan through the Japanese Red Cross Society. There will also be donation booths at each venue.

This year’s highlights include:

“The Billion Yen Jackpot” (U.S. premiere). Japanese celebrity Terry Itou finally advances into the film world, making his directorial debut with one large project: earning an income of one billion yen. This movie, which demonstrates how anyone has the chance to become rich quickly, encourages Japanese society to dream bigger.

“Shodo Girls: Blue Blue Sky” (U.S. premiere), directed by Takafumi Oota. The main characters are five high school girls: Mako (Karin Aiba), who hasn’t talked to her mother for over a year; Misato (Mayuu Kusakari), who dreams of becoming famous; Mimiko (Wakana Hashimoto), who is unsociable; Tonko (Manami Tanabe), who is engrossed to dieting; and Michiru (Izumi Hirasawa) who looks down on other people. Although their friendship is not deep, little by little they build small bond through the travails of school life.

“Twice Bombed: The Legacy of Yamaguchi Tsutomu” (Los Angeles premiere), directed by Ryo Aoki. A victim of the atomic bomb, 90-year-old Tsutomu Yamaguchi was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. With the loss of his beloved son from an illness caused by exposure to radiation from the bomb, he initially remained quiet because of continuing discrimination against survivors, but he decided to take action by talking about his experience and advocating the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Just before passing away from cancer, Yamaguchi entrusted his story to director James Cameron (“Avatar”).

“Birthright” (Los Angeles premiere), directed by Naoki Hashimoto. Abandoned at birth and and raised in an orphanage, Mika (Sayoko Oho) grows up searching for her mother, Naoko (Ryoko Takizawa). Mika finds out that her mother is now living happily with a kind husband and a high school-age daughter, Ayano (Miyu Yagyu). After several days of continuous observation from a distance, Mika makes a decision.

Descriptions of all the films are posted at www.jffla.org. Tickets can be purchased online.

Advance movie coupons are available at participating Japanese bookstores. These coupons can be exchanged for tickets at the box office.

General admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door; for children and seniors, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. For more information, e-mail [email protected].



Leave A Reply