The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Singapore in a big way.
With more than 27 films, including all-new contemporary hits, indie films and must-see retrospectives, this year’s festival will be the longest-running yet. The shows, screening from now till Dec 20, are shown at Shaw Theatres Lido, Asian Film Archive at Oldham Theatre, The Projector (Golden Mile Tower and Picturehouse), Our Tampines Hub and ArtScience Museum (more details will be revealed soon).
There are live-action, animated, comedic films, as well as other film genres expressing uniquely charming, powerful, unsettling, and intimate stories of relationships.
Our top picks
The comedy film called MONDAYS: See You “This” Week!, director Takebayashi Ryo’s second film, may resonate with those overwhelmed by overflowing calendars and never-ending to-do lists. It follows Yoshikawa (Wan Marui, who also appeared in Kontora and Sadako D), an office worker who endures the worst week ever and teams up with her colleagues to end the endless Mondays.
Bring Min’yo Back is a documentary featuring the band Minyo Crusaders. Minyo is a traditional Japanese folk music genre in danger of extinction. Many Japanese consider it to be “lost music”. To bring Minyo back to contemporary audiences, the Minyo Crusaders, who played in Colombia and several European cities in 2019, fused Minyo with Latin beats in unique arrangements.
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro is the sequel to Lupin II: The Secret of Mamo (1978), also directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and part of the festival’s restored classics section. This story revolves around Lupin and Jigen, two gentleman thieves tasked with finding treasure and rescuing a princess. Lupin III first appeared in manga of the same name in August 1967 – 12 years before its film adaptation.
River is set in the Japanese inn of Fujiya during winter in Kibune, Kyoto. Mikoto, a waitress, is at the centre of the story. While standing behind the inn by the Kibune River, she is unexpectedly summoned back to work by the proprietress. Strangely, she finds herself back by the river two minutes later. Mikoto is not the only one affected by this peculiar phenomenon; the inn’s staff and guests are also affected.
Amiko, JFF’s coming-of-age drama, depicts a young girl who exhibits eccentric behaviour that affects others. Throughout the film, viewers are encouraged to consider their innate innocence and challenge social norms.
Have you ever had nightmares about characters from Ringu, Pulse, or Ju-on? Hear personal accounts from pioneers and film critics about the genesis of these iconic films, how they terrified audiences, and how influential and widespread this movement has become internationally in The J-Horror Virus.
As part of the programme, JFF is also launching its first-ever Short Film Competition until Nov 15. Sponsored by Pokka Singapore, it is inspired by the brand’s Power of a Pause campaign, which encourages us to take care of our mental health.
In addition to the events at Shaw Theatre Lido, the JFF has partnered with the Asian Film Archive at Oldham Theatre to present Retrospective: Seijun Suzuki. Watch vintage crime films and B-movie classics directed by Japanese filmmaker Seijun Suzuki, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 93.
Until 22 Oct, The Projector at Golden Mile Tower presents The Flower Of Carnage – A Meiko Kaji Double Bill of crime films of the 1970s that honour the career of actress and singer Meiko Kaji, who has starred in over 100 films and TV shows since the 1960s.
To commemorate this milestone anniversary, JFF is introducing a first-ever Surprise Screening of an iconic Japanese director’s film, which will be announced just days before the actual screening. Stay tuned on JFF’s socials as it reveals clues to the film’s title and release date.
Then there are masterclasses for those who want a deeper exploration of films. If you missed the masterclass by Jasper Sharp, author of The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Film (2011) and co-director of The J-Horror Virus, look out for our interview in SG Magazine as he breaks down the popularity of Japanese horror films.
The masterclass on independent filmmaking with director Lim Kah Wai on Oct 14 – one day before his M18 comedy Your Lovely Smile at Shaw Theatres Lido – should be an eye-opener. Lim will answer questions following the screening. Admission is free, but registration is required. It will be held at the Japan Creative Centre in Nassim Road.
All the films are shown in Japanese with English subtitles. Tickets and more information on the festival’s venues, line-up, and other events can be found on jff.sg. More screenings and events up to Dec 20 will also be revealed.
Tickets cost $12 for Japan Creative Centre and Singapore Film Society (SFS) members, $13 for The Projector, Asian Film Archive, and Marina Bay Sands Art Science Museum members, and $15 for non-members. Members may only claim their discounts from Shaw Theatre box offices, and must flash their dedicated eDMs to be eligible.