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14th Japanese Film Festival at ACMI

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by Vanessa (subscribe)
WeekendNotes Chief Editor / Chief Writer / PR & Communications.
This December immerse yourself in the highly influential and eclectic cinema of modern Japan, at the 14th annual Japanese Film Festival, presented at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Melbourne. The internationally renowned Japanese film industry is one of the oldest and most productive and this year, many of the feature films presented in this travelling film festival are receiving Australian premieres.

Taking place between the 2nd of December and the 7th of December, the Japanese Film Festival will indulge audiences with grand scenes of epic battles, exquisite melodrama and alluring mystery which can only be found in modern Japanese cinema. The opening feature film is Otōto (About Her Brother) (2010) from acclaimed writer/director Yoji Yamada, starring comedian and rakugo artist Tsurube Shofukutei (who also stars in writer/director Miwa Nishikawa's Dear Doctor (2009), which is also screening as part of the festival), award-winning Japanese actress Sayuri Yoshinaga and Japanese actress and model Yū Aoi. The drama centred on the trials and tribulations of siblings features a score from prominent electronic music composer Isao Tomita.

Eighty-one year old Yamada has received international acclaim throughout his esteemed career, writing and directing Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi (The Yellow Handkerchief) (1977), Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai) (2002), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2003 and Kakushi ken oni no tsume (The Hidden Blade) (2004). The drama Kokô no mesu (A Lone Scapel) (2010), directed by Izuru Narushima whose action film Middonaito Îguru (Midnight Eagle) (2007) was released in the United States, will close the festival.

There is also a great assortment of feature films screening during the five day festival to suit all types of audiences – from epic action to intimate character dramas, to tightly knit thrillers. An example of the Japanese language films (presented with English subtitles) on offer include Shiawase no Kaori (Flavour of Happiness) (2008), a carefully-crafted drama situated in a restaurant from Mitsuhiro Mihara and the mystery/thriller from director Isshin Inudo Zero no shôten (Zero Focus) (2009).

Perhaps Norihiro Koizumi's melodramatic opus Flowers (2009) or the tense thriller Confessions (2010) from writer/director Tetsuya Nakashima of Kamikaze Girls (2004) fame may entice you. There is also the popular feel-good true story of Shodô Girls!! (2010) from director Ryuichi Inomat, the epic drama Hisshiken torisashi (Sword of Desperation) (2010) from director Hideyuki Hirayama and the acclaimed Bokkusu! (Box!) (2010) from Toshio Lee.

Writer/Director Daisaku Kimura's latest the adventure Ten no ki (Mt. Tsurugidake aka The Summit) is receiving attention and Soranin (Solanin) (2010), the debut film from Takahiro Miki, based on the popular manga Solanin by Inio Asano.

A festival event is the feature-length screening of Eve no jikan (Time of Eve) (2008), a special screening of six episodes of the sci-fi anime, with brand new scenes. Also screening at this event is the short film/music video Precious (2009) featuring music from Aya Miyahara and directed by Tomomi Masuda. Be sure to check the official Japanese Film Festival website for the full film listings and screening schedule.

Tickets for each of these feature films are currently on sale; a single adult ticket is $15 (Concession $13) per a session, while for Japan Foundation & ACMI Members tickets are $11 per a session. The film enthusiast can purchase a 5-Film Pass at the discounted fee of $60 (excludes opening and closing films). Purchase at ACMI in person or online now to avoid disappointment at the ACMI website.

Check individual ratings and advice for each film on the official Japanese Film Festival website.

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Why? Indulge in Japanese Cinema and Culture
When: 2-7 December
Where: ACMI
Cost: Tickets for each of these feature films are currently on sale; a single adult ticket is $15 (Concession $13) per a session, while for Japan Foundation & ACMI Members tickets are $11 per a session.
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