An Eastern Focus

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Ken Watanabe reinterprets Clint Eastwood's emotionally scarred former gunslinger in the remake of "Unforgiven."

Ken Watanabe reinterprets Clint Eastwood’s emotionally scarred former gunslinger in the remake of “Unforgiven.”

NEWPORT BEACH — On Monday, April 28, the 15th annual Newport Beach Film Festival will present its Japanese Spotlight, an evening celebration of Japanese cinema and culture.

The event will feature the regional premiere of the highly-anticipated film “Unforgiven” (“Yurusarezaru mono”), followed by a festive post-screening gala.

A remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western, “Unforgiven” is set in 1880 as Japan is abolishing the samurai class. Many samurai are forced into poverty, and this is true of Jubei Kamata (Ken Watanabe), who lives with his two young children on a small farm beside the sea, but has failing crops and little money.

He’s visited by an old friend, who asks him to join him as he seeks a 1,000-yen reward, offered by a group of prostitutes after two men viciously attack and scar one of the girls. Having previously sworn to his wife that he would stop drinking and never kill again, he is reluctant to go, but eventually decides that he has no choice, and joins his friend on his journey to kill the two men and collect the reward.

“Unforgiven” is directed by Sang-il Lee, written by Lee and David Webb Peoples. The film also stars Koichi Sato, Akira Emoto, Yuya Yagira, Shiori Kutsuna, Eiko Koike, Yoshimasa Kondo, Jun Kunimura, Kenichi Takitoh, Yukiyoshi Ozawa and Takahiro Miura.

“The festival continues a proud tradition of presenting the very best in Japanese cinema. ‘Unforgiven’ is a bold and powerful film. This remake stands on its own as a truly original Japanese western,” stated Gregg Sch­wenk, CEO of the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The spotlight film will screen Monday at 7:15 p.m., at the Edwards Big Newport, 300 Newport Center Drive in Newport Beach. The post-screening celebration will take place during the Pacific Rim Gala, held at Jaguar/Land Rover Newport Beach, 1540 Jamboree Road.

The evening will include hosted bar by Tito’s Vodka and Stella Artois Beer, several top Orange County restaurants serving signa­ture tastings, multiple DJs and live entertainment.

Admission to the Japanese Spot­light film and the post-screening party is $40. A discount is available when purchasing at the festival web­site by entering the code JPN2014 at checkout.

The Newport Beach Film Festival Japanese Spotlight is supported by the Orange County Japanese Ameri­can Association, Asiance Magazine, Japan Film Society and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles.

The 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival will present over 350 films from around the world. Blending the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking, the Newport Beach Film Festival is proud to showcase an ex­clusive selection of award-winning independent and studio films repre­senting a truly unique mix of culture and genre. Everyone is invited to be a part of this cinematic adventure that attracted over 53,000 film devotees in 2013.

The festival runs through May 1. More information can be found at www.newportbeach­filmfest.com.

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