The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s annual festival has become one of the largest of its kind in the world. In keeping with its motto, “Friendship through Culture,” the fest uses cinema to create bridges between Japan and Canada.

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Photos: © 2016 Fueled: The Man They Called “Pirate” Film Partners ©Naoki Hyakuta/KODANSHA LTD

Three thousand ninjas at war with an army of ten thousand samurai? Cowardly manga artists battling zombies at the foot of Mount Fuji? Tokyo paparazzi who will stop at nothing to scoop the next celebrity scandal? That can mean only one thing: the Toronto Japanese Film Festival is back.

The world of Japanese film

The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival will be held from June 8 to 28 and feature over 25 films, including many international, North American and Canadian premieres. From moving drama to epic action and everything between, the films on offer at this year’s festival are sure to delight audiences of all kinds.

Japan has one of the world’s biggest film industries and a huge appetite for domestic product. But beyond arthouse festival fare and scatterings of anime, much of this diverse and exciting output is never seen by Canadians. The TJFF works hard to remedy that situation and cast a light on Japanese culture, society and taste.

Now in its sixth year, the TJFF showcases some of the finest Japanese films that have recently been recognized for excellence by Japanese audiences and critics, international film festival audiences and the Japanese Film Academy.

Much to appreciate

The festival’s program includes popular genres such as historical (samurai) jidaigeki, contemporary dramas, comedies and action, literary adaptations, children’s, arthouse and anime films. All of the films that are being screened at the festival are international, North American, Canadian or Toronto premieres—all the more reason to come enjoy a viewing experience you won’t find elsewhere.

Screenings will be accompanied by further celebrations of Japanese culture, including musical performances, sake tastings, martial arts demonstrations, art exhibitions and, of course, lots of sushi. For an unforgettable exploration of Japanese entertainment, this year’s TJFF is a must-see event.

 

JCCC Executive Director: James Heron

James has been the executive director of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre for 17 years. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Toronto Japanese Film Festival (with Chris Hope) and co-programmer (with Aki Takabatake).


The Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2017 lineup

Take a closer look at some of the compelling films that will be showcased at this year’s TJFF.

www.torontojff .com

Fueled–The Man Called “Pirate” 【海賊と呼ばれた男】

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©2016 Fueled: The Man They Called “Pirate” Film Partners ©Naoki Hyakuta/KODANSHA LTD

An epic tale of Japan’s postwar rebuilding from the creator of some of Japan’s most popular films, such as The Eternal Zero and Always: Sunset on Third Street.

Maverick businessman Tetsuzo Kunioka believes Japanese resurgence must be fueled by oil, not coal. With a workforce decimated by the war, and with foreign governments sealing oil transportation routes, a desperate Kunioka risks international incident by commandeering an oil tanker and secretly sending it to Iran, earning himself the moniker “pirate.” A thrilling true story and study of the Japanese spirit of resiliency featuring an all-star cast.

Thursday, June 8, 7:30 pm
Canadian Premiere
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Starring: Junichi Okada, Haruka Ayase, Hidetaka Yoshioka and Shota Sometani

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Opening night reception

Director Takashi Yamazaki will be in attendance to introduce the film and take questions following the screening.

James’s recommendation

“A big, bracing old-school adventure about the best of the Japanese spirit from the master of the Japanese historical epic.”

 

Her Love Boils Bathwater【湯を沸かすほどの熱い愛】

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Both pictures above © “Her Love Boils Bathwater” Film Partners

This touching drama was the winner of the Japan Academy Prize for best female lead as well as supporting performances. Futaba, a young mother with terminal cancer, decides that she needs to make sure everyone she loves will be OK after she is gone. In her final months, she must find her husband, who has been absent for a year, so they can reopen the family business—a traditional small-town bathhouse. Futaba must also teach her bullied daughter Azumi to stand on her own two feet. An impossibly moving story of forgiveness, death and love.

Tuesday, June 13, 7 pm | Canadian Premiere Director: Ryota Nakano
Starring: Rie Miyazawa and Joe Odagiri

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Special guest: Actor Joe Odagiri

Joe Odagiri will be in attendance at HER LOVE BOILS BATHWATER as well as at his award-winning film OVER THE FENCE on June 14. At both screenings, he will introduce the films and take part in a Q&A.

James’s recommendation

“A powerful story of a dying woman’s effort to reunite her family and rebuild a traditional bathhouse in her final months. Bring Kleenex!”

 

 

Mumon–The Land of Stealth【忍びの国】

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© 2017 Mumon Film Partners

A spectacular ninja vs. samurai battle epic based on Ryo Wada’s popular novel Shinobi no Kuni. Warlord Nobunaga Oda’s campaign to pacify and unify Japan under his rule faces one terrifying obstacle: the ninja stealth warriors of Iga Province. When Mumon, Iga’s deadliest warrior—and the laziest, according to his wife—kills a ninja from a rival family for a reward, his actions trigger a deadly war between Nobunaga’s army and the ninja of the Iga Province. The resulting battle explodes with political intrigue, violent action and questions of morality. A film full of spectacular swordplay, playful humour and gorgeous photography.

Wednesday, June 28, 7 pm
North American Premiere
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Starring: Satoshi Ohno, Satomi Ishihara, Jun Kun- imura and Yusuke Iseya

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Closing night reception

Director Yoshihiro Nakamura will be in attendance to introduce the film and take questions following the screening.

James’s recommendation

“A TJFF favourite, director Nakamura brings his fifth lm to the fest, delivering another winner with ninja, samurai and Arashi too!”

 

Hirugao 【 昼 顔】 –Love Affairs in the Afternoon

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© 2017 フジテレビジョン 東宝 FNS27社

Three years ago Sawa lost everything—her family, friends and career—after an illicit affair with a married teacher, Yuichiro. When fate reunites them, their grand, tragic passion is reignited.

Thursday, June 22, 7 pm
North American Premiere
Director: Hiroshi Nishitani
Starring: Aya Ueto and Takumi Saitô

James’s recommendation

“A breakout role for Aya Ueto who delivers a passionate, career-best central performance.”

 

Flower and Sword【花戦さ】

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© 2017 「花戦さ」製作委員会

A battle fought not with swords but owers. Under the new shogun’s strict rule, the monk Senko Ikenobo tries to bring peace to the people through ikebana ower arrangement. When Rikyu, innovator of the Japanese tea ceremony, is ordered to commit hara-kiri, Senko issues a challenge to the ruler.

Wednesday, June 21, 7 pm

International Premiere Director: Tetsuo Shinohara
Starring: Mansai Nomura, Kiichi Nakai and Koichi Sato

James’s recommendation

“Combines the most sophisticated elements of Japanese culture with political intrigue and humour. Great fun.”

 

 

In This Corner of the World【この世界の片隅に】

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© FUMIYO KOUNO/FUTABASHA/KONOSEKAI NO KATASUMINI PROJECT

Winner of the Japanese Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. A young woman moves to a small town near Hiroshima to marry. The bombings shatter her world but through perseverance and courage she continues living life to the fullest.

Tuesday, June 27, 7 pm
Canadian Premiere
Director: Sunao Katabuchi
Voiced by: Rena Nōnen, Daisuke Ono and Yoshimasa Hosoya

James’s recommendation

“This award-winning anime is an indelible, dream-like masterpiece.”

 


Schedule of TJFF events

Tickets are available at the JCCC reception, at 416-441-2345 or www.ticketweb.ca

Monday June 19

Traces of Sin 愚行録 7 pm | 120 min

Tuesday June 20

Survival Family サバイバルファミリー 7 pm | 117 min

Wednesday June 21

Flower and Sword 花戦さ 7 pm | 127 min

Thursday June 22

Hirugao—Love A airs in the Afternoon 昼顔 7 pm | 125 min

Monday June 26

Rage怒り7pm|141min | MediaPartner:BentoBoxMagazine

Tuesday June 27

In This Corner of the World この世界の片隅に 7 pm | 126 min

Wednesday June 28

Mumon—The Land of Stealth 忍びの国
Guest: Director Yoshihiro Nakamura 7 pm | 125 min Closing Night Reception

Chihayafuru Part II and Midnight Diner 2 will be screened on Saturday, July 22 at 2 pm and 4 pm respectively. Hirune Hime—Ancien and the Magic Tablet is scheduled to screen on Sunday, August 20 at 2 pm.