Posted by Justin D Williams
Japan Society announces the full lineup of the 12th annual JAPAN CUTS:Festival of New Japanese Film. Described by The New York Times as “meticulously curated” and “an annual highlight of New York’s film calendar,” the summer festival brings a wide range of the best and hardest-to-see films made in and around Japan today—from blockbusters, independent productions and anime, to documentaries, avant-garde works, short films, and new restorations.
This year’s edition spans ten days — from July 19 through July 29 — and features 28 feature-length films and 9 short films across the Feature Slate, Classics: Rediscoveries and Restorations, Documentary Focus, andExperimental Spotlight sections. Among them are 3 World Premieres, 3 International Premieres, 11 North American Premieres, 8 U.S. Premieres, 3 East Coast Premieres, and 7 New York Premieres. In addition, JAPANCUTS 2018 boasts the most confirmed guest filmmakers, actors, and producers in the festival’s history, many visiting New York with films for the first time.
As previously announced, the festival is proud to honor the beloved actress Kirin Kiki with this year’s CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film. An industry veteran with over 50 years of screen credits behind her, Kiki is recognized today as one of her generation’s leading talents. She is best known internationally as a frequent collaborator of renowned auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda (After the Storm), with whom she worked this year on the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters (alongside actors Sakura Ando and Lily Franky, two previous recipients of the CUT ABOVE Award). In addition to the Centerpiece Presentation title Mori, The Artist’s Habitat, Kiki is featured in this year’s JAPAN CUTS with a 10th Anniversary 35mm screening of Kore-eda’s landmark family drama Still Walking.
For its tentpole Opening Film selection, JAPAN CUTS hosts the North American Premiere of Ramen Shop, a moving Japan/Singapore/France co-produced drama directed by Eric Khoo in which secret family recipes help bridge generations and cultures. Khoo and the film’s star Takumi Saitoh appear in-person for the July 19 screening, which is followed by an opening night party. The Centerpiece Presentation is the North American Premiere of Shuichi Okita’s Mori, The Artist’s Habitat, a fictionalized biopic centered on a single day in the life of reclusive Tokyo artist Morikazu Kumagai and his wife Hideko. The screening is preceded by the CUT ABOVE Award ceremony and is followed by a Q&A with star Kirin Kiki and post-screening party. Finally, the Closing Film is the epic Hanagatami, a meditation on youth and love amidst the backdrop of war, directed by pioneering filmmakerNobuhiko Obayashi, best-known for his cult classic House (1977). A Q&A with star Shunsuke Kubozuka follows the U.S. Premiere screening.
“JAPAN CUTS is dedicated to deepening appreciation of Japanese film culture in a transnational context,” says Japan Society Senior Film Programmer Aiko Masubuchi, who organizes the festival with Japan Society Film Programmer Kazu Watanabe and JAPAN CUTS Programmer Joel Neville Anderson. “This dynamic 12th edition includes more guests than ever before, offering unprecedented opportunities for intercultural exchange between New York audiences and an exciting new generation of creators alongside established masters. In putting together this year’s diverse slate of imaginative, daring work, we were continually energized by new discoveries that expanded our understanding of Japanese film culture as well as our own current historical moment. It is with that sense of excitement and spirit of discovery that we share this summer’s lineup.”