This year, due to covid-19 pandemic, the Nippon Connection Film Festival has become an online event. From June 9 to 14, 2020, Cinema lovers can discover over 70 short and feature-length films from the comfort of their own homes.
All movies will be available via Nippon on Demand using the Video on Demand platform Vimeo. While various films are limited to the German public, more than half of the films are available for international audiences. During the festival epriod, films and short-film programs can be accessed for a full 24 hours after paying the small fee of 5 euros.
With the online festival already in full swing, we gladly introduce our readers to nine movies we recommend.
My Sweet Grappa Remedies is, when all is said and done, a peaceful and serene exploration of female subjectivity. What makes this narrative so heartwarming (and for some really relatable) is the very externalization of thoughts/diary-entries that structures the narrative. Beyond been given an insight in her life-style as such, we are allowed to hear her thoughts and feel her doubts and fears. Moreover – and this is the most wonderful part of the narrative, we are able to hear Yoshiko’s desire, a desire not yet assumed, speaking and subtly guiding her in her subjective trajectory.
Even if the acting is unpolished and some cinematographical choices hurt the overall narrative flow, House still remains, beyond any doubt, one of the most creative and figurative ghost narratives ever made. And while this is already an exceptional achievement, the fact that Nobuhiko Ōbayashi’s eccentric visual composition also turns out to be one of the most pure and disturbing confrontations with the uncanny transforms this narrative into nothing other than a classic, a classic that will long linger in one’s mind.
Labyrinth of Cinema is Obayashi’s magnum opus. It is a gift to the spectator, crafted in full consciousness it may be his final gift to give. It is a feverish presentation of facts about cinema, a fierce explication of his pacifistic philosophy, and, above all, an honest plea for love and a future without war and atom bombs – after a pika (flash) then a don (boom). Obayashi’s Labyrinth of Cinema is not only the most important movie made by Obayashi but also the most important Japanese movie of the last decade.
A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic is a moving narrative about the impact alcoholism can have on one’s coming-into-being as subject as well as a subtle societal commentary on the way the consumption of alcohol in Japan is viewed. Whereas Katagiri in his previous narrative forgot to give Miko’s subjective change the emotional power it needed, Katagiri’s perfectly executed tonal shift turns Saki’s subjective journey into a truly touching experience.
F Is For Future (2019) by Teppei Isobe [Full review released in the coming weeks.]
F is For Future is restraint exploration of the impact of death, the difficulty to act upon one’s desire seriously, and the problem some subjects have in finding a direction in their life. Isobe’s restraint is evident in his composition as well as in the a-dramatic way he approaches his subject matter. It is due to these two aspects that Takuya’s trajectory of minimal subjective change becomes pleasingly sensible and succeeds in resonating with the struggles of desire the spectator might have endured in the past. In short, an impressive debut by Teppei Isobe.
While it seemed impossible to make a compelling and touching narrative about menstruation, Little Miss Period proves, in a convincing way, that it is possible. Little Miss Period succeeds in captivating the spectator not because of the quirky way bodily phenomena are visualized as such, but because these visualizations enable a more visual and emotionally rich experience of what it means to experience the period or a flaring sexual drive.
Chihiro Amano’s Mrs Noisy is a narrative that, via a balanced mixture of comedy and drama, succeeds in confronting the spectator with the problematic imaginary aspect that ever threatens inter-subjective relationships. With her narrative, Amano urges the spectator to be more considerate of someone else’s subjective position. Such kind of consideration does not consist in projecting one’s own interpretation on the other, but, as the narrative underlines, to grasp the coordinates by which the life of another is structured – i.e. to get an understanding of the logic of another subject.
Shell And Joint is a true showcase of Hirabayashi’s talent as director and screenwriter and proof that he has a clear artistic vision. Full of visually enticing imagery and strong scenes, Hirabayashi offers a truly compelling exploration of what human existence and non-existence is. By concatenating a multitude of slice-of-life sequences – some dead-serious, some hilarious, and some touching, Hirabayashi succeeds in showing the spectator with the fact that within our physical existence language problematizes the way we sexually relate with the other sex as well as the fact that language enables our existence to persist beyond our death.
Kawaki is a narrative that, beyond being a story about the disappearance of Kanako, concerns the real. Nakashima explores that aspect that drives us as well as how an infringement by the real traumatically affects the speaking being. While some style choices are odd, Kawaki nevertheless proves to be very engaging, subversive exploration into the various effects this irrational real can have on speaking subjects.