Japanese Film Festival Comes to the Midwest

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

The virtual festival will present 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 are thrilled to bring the best of contemporary Japanese cinema to the Midwest,” Sakamoto said. “Our festival is designed to bring the American Midwest into dialogue 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 aims to spark conversations about culture and 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 focus on our common humanity.”

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

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

Other movies include “Videophobia,” a black-and-white cyber-thriller; “Yan”, filmed in Japan and Taiwan; “The House of Seasons,” a family drama about a teenage girl who overcomes her mental health issues; and “The Manga Master,” a film about the pioneering life of manga artist Kitazawa Rakuten.

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

The Chicago Japan Film Collective brings the best of contemporary Japanese films – which would otherwise be unavailable – to Midwestern audiences. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the inaugural edition will be held virtually; however, plans are underway to hold future in-person festivals.

Watchsite registration fee: $15 for all access, $10 for a film. Student discount codes and promotional discount codes 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 via Eventive and the award will be announced at the end of the festival.

Programming 2021

“All About Chiaki Mayumura (Provisional)” by Hajime Matsuura (feature film, 2019, 72 minutes), International Premiere. Who is Chiaki Mayumura? An artist? An entrepreneur? Do his clones play a big role in the world? A genderless indie idol that captures all 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 abandoned animals in Tomioka, a town evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Official FB: https://www.facebook.com/aloneinfuksuhima/

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

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

“House of the Seasons” by Yoshihiro Sakamoto (feature film, 2020, 105 minutes)> International Premiere. The story of a high school girl who locks herself up and nearly drops out of school but ends up in a youth support center called House of Seasons through meeting and living with kind people there. Official website: http://www.bitters.co.jp/mominoie/

“The Manga Master” by Moe Oki (feature film, 2019, 118 minutes). North American premiere. This biographical film, also screened at the British Museum, retraces 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 get permission to cover the story and two years to film it. It’s the first time a camera has entered a prison in Japan, and it’s a social and human documentary that delves into the lives and real faces of inmates. Official website: https://prison-circle.com

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

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

Marie A. Evans