Japanese Film Festival Comes to the Midwest

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CHICAGO — Coyote Sun Productions and Mar Creation announced the inaugural Chicago Japanese Film Collective, the first-ever Japanese film festival to be held in the Midwest.

The virtual festival will feature nine films (seven narrative features and two documentaries), including two North American premieres.

Organized by Yuki Sakamoto (president of Coyote Sun Productions) and Hiroshi Kono Hiroshi (president of Mar Creation), the Chicago Japanese Film Collective will take place from May 25 to 31.

“We’re excited to bring the best of contemporary Japanese cinema to the Midwest,” said Sakamoto. “Our festival is designed to bring the American Midwest into conversation with Japanese culture.”

Supported by Catch Us Performing Arts (CUPA) and the Japan Foundation New York, the festival will use the Eventive platform for ticketing and screenings and is intended to spark conversations about culture and to facilitate understanding between Japan and the Midwest region.

According to Kono, “With the ongoing pandemic, we hope the Chicago Japanese Film Collective can provide a space where people from diverse backgrounds come together to appreciate art and to focus on our shared humanity.”

Among the festival’s highlights is Kaizo Hayashi’s “Bolt,” a drama about the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that rocked Japan and resulted in the Fukushima nuclear disaster starring Masatoshi Nagase.

“All About Chiaki Mayumura (provisional)” is a genre-bending drama about a musical celebrity who is much more than meets the eye.

Other films include “Videophobia,” a black-and-white cyber thriller; “Yan,” shot on location in Japan and Taiwan; “The House of Seasons,” a family drama about a teenager who overcomes her mental health challenges; and “The Manga Master,” a film about the life of manga artist pioneer Kitazawa Rakuten.

In documentaries, the festival will feature “Alone Again in Fukushima,” a deeply human story about a man who stayed in the evacuation zone in order to care for animals left behind following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and “Prison Circle,” which provides an intimate look into one of Japan’s most notorious prisons.

The Chicago Japan Film Collective introduces the best in contemporary Japanese films — that would otherwise be inaccessible — to Midwestern audiences. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the inaugural edition will be held virtually; however, plans are in motion to hold future festivals in person.

Watchsite registration fee: $15 for all access, $10 for one film. Student discount codes and promotional discount code are available; contact [email protected]

Film Festival platform: https://cjfc.eventive.org

Official website: https://www.cjfc.us

Votes for the Audience Award will be cast through Eventive and the award will be announced at the conclusion of the festival.

2021 Lineup

”All About Chiaki Mayumura (provisional)” by Hajime Matsuura (feature, 2019, 72 minutes), International premiere. Who is Chiaki Mayumura? An artist? An entrepreneur? Are her clones playing a big role in the world? A genre-less idol indie that captures every bit of her charm. Official website: http://spotted.jp/2020/02/all_about_mayumurachiaki/

”Alone Again in Fukushima” by Mayu Nakamura (documentary, 2020, 95 minutes). North American premiere. A sequel to “Alone in Fukushima” (2015) in which Naoto continues to live with the animals left behind in Tomioka, a town evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Official FB: https://www.facebook.com/aloneinfuksuhima/

”Bolt” by Kaizo Hayashi (feature, 2019, 80 minutes). North American premiere. Based on a true story that the director heard about the Great East Japan Earthquake, this human drama depicts men risking their lives with overwhelming visual beauty. Starring Masatoshi Nagase, an ally of Hayashi. Official website: http://g-film.net/bolt/

”Dynamite Graffiti” by Masanori Tominaga (feature, 2019, 138 minutes). Midwest premiere. A film adaptation of an autobiographical essay by Akira Suei, the charismatic magazine editor who led the Showa era subculture. Starring Tasuku Emoto, Atsuko Maeda. Official website: https://dynamitemovie.jp/

”House of Seasons” by Yoshihiro Sakamoto (feature, 2020, 105 minutes)> International premiere. The story of a high school girl who shuts in and almost drops out of school but regains herself at a youth support facility called House of Seasons through encounters and living with kind people there. Official website: http://www.bitters.co.jp/mominoie/

”The Manga Master” by Moe Oki (feature, 2019, 118 minutes). North American premiere. This biographical film, which was also screened at the British Museum, depicts the life of Rakuten Kitazawa, the pioneer of modern manga in Japan. Official website: https://www.mangatanjo.com

”Prison Circle” by Kaori Sakagami (documentary, 2019, 120 minutes). It took six years to obtain permission to cover the story, and two years to film it. This is the first time a camera has been inside of a prison in Japan, and it is a social and human documentary that looks at the lives and true faces of the inmates. Official website: https://prison-circle.com

”Videophobia” by Daisuke Miyazaki (feature, 2019, 88 minutes). U.S. premiere. A cyber-thriller about a woman who gives up her dream of becoming an actress and returns to the Korean town of Osaka, only to suffer a psychotic break when her one-night stand is exposed on the Internet. Official website: http://videophobia2020.com

”Yan” by Keisuke Imamura (feature, 2019, 86 minutes). North American premiere. The first feature film by a top young cinematographer. In this family drama, Yan visits his brother 20 years later to see why his mother abandoned him. Official website: https://tsubame-yan.com

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