Hidetoshi Nishijima (L) and Ryoko Hirouse (R) in Zero Focus
JAPAN CUTS 2010 screened its final film on July 16th and the numbers are in: over 5,500 tickets were sold, resulting in a record attendance in the four years Japan Society has produced the JAPAN CUTS film festival!
A number of films seem to have struck chords with audiences and critics alike. Twitch praised Parade’s “unsettling” tone and the “uniformly excellent” cast. Cinema Strikes Back loved One Million Yen Girl, and thought that writer-director Yuki Tanada’s work “hit all the right notes.” The Village Voice found Bare Essence of Life to be “unpredictable and occasionally astonishing.” Blogger J B Spins admired Zero Focus’ “lush production” and praises it as “an emotionally complex thriller that holds together quite well.” This Week in New York called out Dear Doctor as a “warm, tenderhearted film.” In regards to Confessions , whose two screenings were both sold out, Reel Talk says “Whatever the plot’s truth, of murder or revenge, Confessions crafts a chilling hundred-three minutes.”
A number of special events happened during JAPAN CUTS’ two-and-a-half weeks as well. Katie’s Japan Files reports from the Q&A with director Isao Yukisada and actor Tatsuya Fujiwara, after a screening of Parade. Cinema Knife Fight has a lengthy post from the Sushi Typhoon Party following the premiere of Mutant Girl’s Squad. In addition, Japan Society Film Program’s Tumblr has great wrap-ups of the films screened, with rare artwork and stills and insider photos from special events.
Kenichi Matsuyama in Bare Essence of Life
Samuel Jamier, chief film curator at Japan Society, predicts another big year for JAPAN CUTS in 2011. He wants to keep the focus on thoughtful, creative commercial films from innovative directors like Confessions’ Tetsuya Nakashima and One Million Yen Girl’s Yuki Tanada. Films based on original stories with strong scripts are a priority. He discusses in greater detail in a fantastic VCinema post-fest interview.
Female filmmakers will likely continue to make a strong showing. "There's definitely more visibility," Samuel told The Walls Street Journal about 2010's lineup, "and even when there isn't a female director, a lot of these films focus on dominant female roles." This year JAPAN CUTS showed new films from Tanada, Miwa Nishikawa (Dear Doctor) and Satoko Yokohama (Bare Essence of Life). These directors’ films have a fresh perspective on their respective genres and showcase the emergent and indelible power and skill of women making movies in Japan today.
One trend that does not seem to be happening in Japan, however, is 3D. Of course, in the U.S. we’re all about the 3D, but in Japan, the only major 3D film over the next year will be a digital re-release of the 2000 Tatsuya Fujiwara starrer Battle Royale.
Whatever the future of Japanese Cinema holds, one thing is certain. You will catch the best of it next year at JAPAN CUTS 2011!