A Guide to Eiga Sai 2014

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Eiga Sai returns this year with the theme “Family”. The Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) is slated to present 16 contemporary Japanese films that deal with various stories of families. This year's festival will take place at the Shangri-La Cineplex from July 3 – 13, Abreeza Mall Cinema, Ayala (July 25 to 27), FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City (July 29 to August 3) and Ayala Center Cinema 4, Cebu City (August 6 to 10).

Here's a list of this year's lineup:

Homeland (家路)

The feature directorial debut of Kubota Nao, a television documentary veteran with a career spanning over 25 years. Set in Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake, it tells a story of family members who rediscover their connections with one another. In post-nuclear accident Fukushima, Jiro (Matsuyama Kenichi) returns to his hometown for the first time in twenty years and begins tending to fields at his family's farm, located within the radiation caution zone. Meanwhile, his mother Tomiko (Tanaka Yuko), older half-brother Soichi (Uchino Seiyo) and sister-in-law Misa (Ando Sakura) live together in a temporary housing unit.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 3 (Thursday) – 7:00pm
July 12 (Saturday) – 7:30pm

Abreeza Mall Cinema 2, Davao City
July 26 (Saturday) – 1:30pm

Ayala Center Cebu Cinema 4
August 6 (Wednesday) – 7:00pm
August 10 (Sunday) – 7:00pm

Hospitalité (歓待)

A comedy screened in the section “Japanese Eyes” at the 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival. The director, Fukada Koji, is a member of the production team of the theatrical troupe Seinendan (Artistic Director: Hirata Oriza) who has received high praise for human comedy in Tokyo (Tokyo Ningen Kigeki) (2009). This film comically depicts the inevitable transformation of an ordinary family upon the arrival of a certain visitor. Kobayashi Mikio (Yamauchi Kenji) runs a small printing factory in downtown Tokyo and lives a quiet life with his wife Natsuki (Sugino Kiki) and his family until one day a man appears claiming to be the son of a wealthy man who once provided financial support for Kobayashi's factory.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 4 (Friday) – 1:30pm
July 10 (Thursday) – 7:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
August 1 (Friday) – 1:30pm
August 3 (Sunday) – 10:30am

Tamako in Moratorium (もらとりあむタマ子)

Tamako (Maeda Atsuko) graduates from college and returns to the sports clothing shop run by her father Zenji (Kan Suon), and spends her days listlessly, not even looking for a job. One day, there's talk of Zenji going on a blind date, and Tamako flies into a tizzy. Will Tamako be able to take a step forward in her life?

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 4 (Friday) – 4:30pm
July 8 (Tuesday) – 7:30pm
July 12 (Saturday) – 1:30pm

Abreeza Mall Cinema 2, Davao City
July 25 (Friday) – 1:00pm

Ayala Center Cebu Cinema 4
August 8 (Friday) – 7:00pm
August 10 (Sunday) – 4:30pm

Momoiro sora o (ももいろそらを)

A coming-of-age drama that was awarded Best Picture in the Japanese Eyes section of the 2011 International Tokyo Film Festival, and was also an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. This feature debut from director Kobayashi Keiichi is a fresh evocation of a high school girl’s adolescence with beautiful black and white cinematography.

Kawashima Izumi (Ikeda Ai), a high school student with a habit of grading newspapers, pick up a wallet containing a large sum of cash that she finds lying on the side of the street. This arouses her curiosity, which drives her to begin a search for the wallet’s owner.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 4 (Friday) – 7:30pm
July 8 (Tuesday) – 4:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 29 (Tuesday) – 10:30am
July 31 (Thursday) – 4:30pm

Symphony in August (8月のシンフォニー ―渋谷 2002~2003)

Singer-songwriter Kawashima Ai's autobiography, “Last Words,” made film. It took second place in the Animated and third in the Children's film sections at the 15th Lyon Asian Film Festival. The film has also gained recognition for its ambitious fusion of cell animation, live action film, and computer graphics. Ai (voiced by: Fukuen Misato) moves to Tokyo, alone, to fulfill the promise made to her mother (voiced by: Takahashi Keiko) to become a singer. However, reality is cruel, and she just can't seem to make her debut. Feeling her hopes crushed, Ai sets her mind to do “1000 roadside live shows” to inspire herself.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 5 (Saturday) – 1:30pm
July 7 (Monday) – 7:30pm

Abreeza Mall Cinema 2, Davao City
July 25 (Friday) – 10:30am

Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪)

A feature animation directed by Hosoda Mamoru, whose “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and “Summer Wars” won numerous awards in Japan and abroad. It follows thirteen years in the lives of a mother and her “wolf children.”

College student Hana (voice: Miyazaki Aoi) meets a young “wolf man” (voice: Osawa Takao), and falls in love with him. Eventually, she gives birth to two “wolf children,” Yuki and Ame, but tragedy strikes the family soon after when the “wolf man” dies. Left to care for their two young children, Hana makes up her mind to raise them in the remote countryside so that they may choose whether to live as humans or wolves.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 5 (Saturday) – 4:30pm
July 13 (Sunday) – 1:30pm

Abreeza Mall Cinema 2, Davao City
July 26 (Saturday) – 10:30am

Ayala Center Cebu Cinema 4
August 7 (Thursday) – 7:30pm
August 9 (Saturday) – 4:30pm

Until the Break of Dawn (ツナグ)

A heartwarming fantasy adapted from the eponymous novel by Naoki Prize-winning author Tsujimura Mizuki. A young man becomes an apprentice “Tsunagu,” an emissary who can reunite the living with the dead for one time only, and grows through learning about the bonds between people.

Ayumi (Matsuzaka Tori) seems to be just an ordinary high school student, but he is actually being trained by his grandmother Aiko (Kiki Kilin) to take on the role of “Tsunagu.” As he facilitates reunions for a diverse range of clients - an arrogant middle-aged man who lost his mother to cancer, a high school girl whose friend died in a bicycle accident, and an office worker who has been waiting seven years for his missing fiancée to return - he develops various doubts. Can the living be saved by meeting their deceased loved ones again? And what of the dead? These doubts lead Ayumi to seek the truth regarding the mysterious deaths of his own parents.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 5 (Saturday) – 7:30pm
July 13 (Sunday) – 7:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 30 (Wednesday) – 4:30pm

The Kirishima Thing (桐島、部活やめるってよ)

Directed by Yoshida Daihachi, whose FUNUKE Show Some Love, You Losers! was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival's Critic's Week, The Kirishima Thing is an adaptation of Asai Ryo’s bestselling novel. It became an extraordinarily long-running hit in Japan as it was spread around as being coming-of age movie for a new generation of filmgoers, and it also went to win numerous film awards.

A rumor that Kirishima, the most popular student in school, is going to withdraw from after-school activities sends the other cool kids into an uproar. This has little effect on uncool film club member Maeda (Kamiki Ryunosuke), who begins to shoot a zombie movie. The emotions of the school’s various student factions gradually intersect, and during the shooting of Maeda’s movie, little incidents occur that sway their hearts.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 6 (Sunday) – 1:30pm
July 11 (Friday) – 4:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
August 2 9Saturday) – 4:30pm

FLY, DAKOTA, FLY! (飛べ!ダコタ)

A drama based on a true incident that occurred in the aftermath of World War II. It depicts a friendship that transcends national borders between the crew of a British Air Force plane that makes an emergency landing on Sado Island and the local residents who helped it take off again. Experience television series drama director Aburatani Seiji makes his first foray into filmmaking.

January 14th, 1946. A British Air Force “Dakota” VIP transport plane headed for Tokyo makes an emergency landing in a small village on Sado Island. The islanders have mixed feelings about the stranded crew, but decide to come to their aid. Chiyoko (Higa Aimi), the daughter of the village headman, also does her best to help.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 6 (Sunday) – 4:30pm
July 10 (Thursday) – 1:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 30 (Wednesday) – 1:30pm
August 1 (Friday) – 10:30am

A Story of Yonosuke (横道世之介)

A coming-of-age drama based on a serialized newspaper novel by Yoshida Shuichi. It nostalgically depicts the interactions between a good-natured young man and his friends, while interweaving the past and present. The lead roles are played by Kora Kengo and Yoshitaka Yuriko, who previously starred together in Snakes and Earrings.

In 1987, a youth named Yonosuke (Kora) who is unable to decline the requests of others leaves his hometown of Nagasaki to start university life in Tokyo. One day as he is juggling classes and extracurricular activities, he goes to a driving school and meets Shoko (Yoshitaka), the daughter of a company president, who takes a liking on him.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 6 (Sunday) – 7:30pm
July 9 (Wednesday) – 4:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
August 1 (Friday) – 4:30pm

Hearts Together (心をひとつに)

A two-time Grammy Award-winner smooth jazz keyboardist Bob James and a Japanese renowned pop singer Seiko Matsuda performed in a charity concert together with local jazz band in Ofunato, Iwate, praying for recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This documentary film portrays the scene behind the concert such as the message concentrated in their new song “Put our hearts together”.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 7 (Monday) – 1:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 30 (Wednesday) – 10:30am

Casting Blossoms to the Sky (この空の花 -長岡花火物語)

Drama by “Exchange Student” director Obayashi Nobuhiko, set in Niigata Prefecture’s Nagaoka City. A female newspaper reporter undergoes a number of unusual experiences as she covers the people of Nagaoka. It elicits Nagaoka’s beautiful landscape and history of overcoming numerous wars and disasters through a fantastic tale.

Out of the blue, local newspaper reporter Reiko (Matsuyuki Yasuko) gets a letter from her former lover Kenichi (Takashima Masahiro) saying that he wants her to see the Nagaoka fireworks and a stage performance. With news coverage in mind as well, Reiko decides to visit Nagaoka.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 7 (Monday) – 4:30pm
July 10 (Thursday) – 4:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 31 (Thursday) – 1:30pm
August 2 (Saturday) – 10:30am

Things Left Behind (ひろしま 石内都・遺されたものたち)

Documentary about photographer Ishiuchi Miyako’s attention-grabbing exhibition “Hiroshima,” held at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, Canada. Photographs of dresses, shoes and other clothes of those who perished in the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Ishiuchi has continually photographed the mementos of Hiroshima atomic bomb victims. This film documents the new stories woven together by Ishiuchi's photographs, transcending time and national borders. Directed by Japan-raised American director Linda Hoaglund.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 8 (Tuesday) – 1:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 31 (Thursday) – 10:30am
August 3 (Sunday) – 4:30pm

Tug of war! (綱引いちゃった!)

A warmhearted comedy directed by Mizuta Nobuo (No More Cry!!!) about the struggles of a women’s tug-of-war team that attempts to promote their hometown through sports. Its screenplay is provided by Pacchigi! series scribe Habara Daisuke.

Chiaki (Inoue Mao), who works in the public relations department of the Oita City government, is tasked with organizing a women’s tug-of-war team to generate publicity for the city. She ropes in the idiosyncratic employees of a school lunch center on the verge of being shut down, and together they strive to win a national tug-of-war tournament with the center's future at stake.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 9 (Wednesday) – 1:30pm
July 11 (Friday) – 1:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 29 (Tuesday) – 1:30pm

Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる)

Popular actor Fukuyuma Masaharu (Suspect X 2008) takes on his first role as a father, under the direction of Kore-eda Hirokazu (Nobody Knows 2004). It questions the definition of a true family through a story about children swapped at birth. Winner of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s Jury Prize and Ecumenical Jury Prize and Audience Award at San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Ryota (Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Ono Machiko) learn that their son was swapped at birth with another boy at a maternity hospital. They enter into talks regarding an “exchange” with the other parents involved, Yudai (Lily Franky) and Yukari (Maki Yoko), but Ryota becomes uncertain.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 9 (Wednesday) – 7:30pm
July 11 (Friday) – 7:30pm
July 13 (Sunday) – 7:30pm

Abreeza Mall Cinema 2, Davao City
July 27 (Sunday) – 1:00pm

REUNION (遺体~明日への十日間~)

Labor of love that sincerely takes on the truth of the 3.11 disaster through in-depth research by Kimizuka Ryoichi of “Nobody to Watch Over Me”, based on author Ishii Kota’s writing about the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in “ITAI, SHINSAI TSUNAMI NO HATENI.” World premiere screening held at the 36th Montreal World Film Festival.

In the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, a junior high school gymnasium in Iwate Prefecture’s Kamaishi City is used as a morgue. Aiba (Nishida Toshiyuki) worked in the funeral business, and offers to volunteer at the morgue.

Screening dates:

Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall
July 12 (Saturday) – 4:30pm

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
August 2 (Saturday) – 1:30pm

ROBO-G (ロボジー)

The latest from writer-director Yaguchi Shinobu, who has produced a string of hits including Happy Flight with his unique viewpoint and outstanding comedic sensibility. Mickey Curtis (KAMIKAZE TAXI), credited as Igarashi Shinjiro, gives a wonderful performance as a stubborn old man in his first starring role.

Consumer electronics company employee Kobayashi (Hamada Gaku) is ordered to develop a bipedal robot, but fails miserably. He comes up with a plan to pass off a human in a suit as a robot, and finds elderly man named Suzuki (Igarashi) who fits inside the suit perfectly.

Screening dates:

FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City
July 29 (Tuesday) – 4:30pm
August 3 (Sunday) – 1:30pm

Event Info

Eiga Sai 2014

The Philippines and Japan have a lot of things in common. In the recent past, the two countries have experienced devastating disasters - loss of countless lives and resources. In times of difficulties, we all come to realize the value the family, not only the immediate members but also extended families - neighbors and communities. The value of the family is an example of commonalities for both Japan and the Philippines so with the fact that both countries are disaster-prone.

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