SAN FRANCISCO – The Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, the first fully dedicated annual Japanese film celebration for the Bay Area, will launch on Saturday, July 27, at New People Cinema, located inside of the New People J-pop entertainment complex in the heart of the city’s Japantown.
Kicking off in conjunction with the 2013 J-Pop Summit Festival and running through Sunday, Aug. 4, the JFFSF will screen more than 15 acclaimed live-action and anime films representing some of the best in recent Japanese cinema. Several guests of honor, including directors Miwa Nishikawa and Shinsuke Sato as well as architect Kyohei Sakaguchi, will also appear for the premieres of their latest projects.
Tickets are $13 per film. New People Cinema is located at 1746 Post St. (at Webster Street). A complete schedule is available at www.jffsf.org.
The 2013 J-Pop Summit will take place July 27 and 28 across the historic Japantown district to celebrate the phenomenon of Japanese pop culture with a colorful array of live bands and artists, panel discussions, film premieres, edgy fashion shows, electronic dance events, celebrity appearances and more. Full details are available at www.J-POP.com.
Notable film premieres include:
• “Dreams for Sale” (San Francisco premiere), co-presented with the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, on Saturday, July 27, at 7 p.m. Written and directed by Miwa Nishikawa (“Sway,” “Dear Doctor”), who will appear in person. In this drama, a couple run a small eatery in a corner of Tokyo, but on the fifth anniversary of its opening, a fire erupts in the kitchen and burns the place to a cinder. Having lost everything and in desperate need of cash, the pair attempts to make a fresh start by swindling others. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/dreams-for-sale
• Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo” (U.S. premiere) on Saturday, July 27, at 11 a.m. Also known as “Evangelion: The New Movie: Q,” this is the third of four feature films released in the “Rebuild of Evangelion” saga by famed anime director Hideaki Anno. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/evangelion3
• “How to Build a Mobile House” (U.S. premiere), presented by Muji USA, on Saturday, July 27, at 1:30 p.m. This documentary delves into the roots of dwelling and living through the unique activities of famous “Zero Yen” artist/architect Kyohei Sakaguchi, who “does not build.” Sakaguchi will appear in person. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/kyohei-sakaguchi
• “Library Wars” (U.S. premiere) on Friday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 3, at 1:10 p.m. Directed by Shinsuke Sato, who will appear in person, and based on the bestselling novel by Hiro Arikawa, this film is set in the year 2019 in Japan, where a new law is passed to crack down on free expression. To oppose this oppression, the Library Force is created to protect libraries, and a fierce battle soon ensues. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/shinsuke-sato
• “Platinum Data” (U.S. premiere) on Thursday, Aug. 1, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. J-pop artist Kazunari Ninomiya (“Gantz,” “Letters from Iwo Jima”) stars as Ryuhei Kagura, a forensic scientist who has solved a series of complex cases and is assigned to investigate the murders of several people. Evidence analyzed through a new DNA system soon identifies him as the killer. With no such memory, he decides to flee and the pursuer becomes the pursued. Is Kagura guilty or innocent? Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/platinum-data
• “Rent a Family Inc.,” co-presented with the San Francisco Film Society, on Wednesday, July 31, at 7 p.m. This funny documentary by Danish filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder (“The Invention of Dr. Nakamatsu”) follows Ryuichi, a Japanese family man who operates a professional stand-in business called I Want to Cheer You Up Ltd., which rents out fake relatives (including spouses and parents) to customers that desperately need to cover up a secret. But Ryuichi himself leads a double life by not telling his family about the business he is running. Will he come clean in order to cheer up his own family situation? Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/rent_a_family_inc/
Additional live-action premieres:
• “Helter Skelter” (San Francisco premiere), co-presented with the Center for Asian American Media, on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 4:20 p.m. “Sakuran” director Mika Ninagawa’s live-action adaptation of the shojo manga by Kyoko Okazaki utilizes brilliantly colored visuals to depict the descent of an outwardly perfect but inwardly unstable star who reigns over the entertainment world. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/helter-skelter
• “Himizu” (San Francisco premiere), co-presented with the Center for Asian American Media, on Sunday, Aug. 4, at 1:10 p.m. Sion Sono’s award-winning masterpiece is set after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and follows the attempts by a 14-year-old boy to escape his dismal surroundings and a strange string of events that set him on a new course. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/himizu
• “Lesson of the Evil” (San Francisco premiere) on Saturday, July 27, at 4:20 p.m. and Tuesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. Takashi Miike directed this twisted psycho thriller based on a bestselling novel by Yusuke Kishi. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/lesson-of-the-evil
• “Rurouni Kenshin” (San Francisco premiere) on Sunday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 1, at 4 p.m. A new live-action film adaptation of creator Nobuhiro Watsuki ‘s smash-hit samurai manga. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/rurouni-kenshin
• “Space Battleship Yamato” (West Coast premiere) on Sunday, Aug. 4, at 3:20 p.m. A stunning live-action adaptation of the famed space saga, originally created by Leiji Matsumoto, that laid the foundation for the entire Japanese science fiction anime genre. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/space-battleship-yamato
Additional anime screenings:
• “Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II” (special encore presentation) on Sunday, July 28, at 3:50 p.m. The exciting second film in the “Berserk Golden Age Arc” trilogy based on the bestselling manga series. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/berserk2
• “Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge” (U.S. premiere) on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 11 a.m. Based on the mega-hit manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi, which has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/hunter-x-hunter
• “Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Lost Tower” (U.S. premiere) on Saturday, July 28, at 1:30 p.m. The latest feature film action/adventure featuring the world’s most popular ninja. Info and tickets available at: http://jffsf.org/2013/naruto-shippuden-the-lost-tower
• “Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning” (special encore presentation) on Friday, Aug. 2, at 4 p.m. The hero-inspired big-screen action of the smash-hit anime property returns to the Bay Area. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/tiger-bunny-the-beginning
• “Wolf Children” (San Francisco premiere) on Sunday, July 28, at 11 a.m. and Sunday, Aug. 4, at 6:15 p.m. From Mamoru Hosoda, the visionary and award-winning creator of the acclaimed anime films “Summer Wars” and “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” comes a beautiful tale of love and triumph. Info and tickets available at http://jffsf.org/2013/wolf-children/
New People Cinema, which has 143 seats and is equipped with a cutting-edge HD digital projection and THX-certified sound system, is a home for several local film festivals. Info: www.newpeoplecinema.com