The 2020 JFF Plus: Online Festival kicks off today with a free streamable program of the very best in contemporary Japanese cinema, available to audiences across Australia and New Zealand until Sunday 13 December.
Screening over 25 films, the 2020 festival features enchanting anime adventures, thought-provoking drama, breathtaking romance, mesmerising musicals and inspiring documentaries, as well as stop motion and animated shorts for audiences across Australia and New Zealand to enjoy online.
The program showcases an array of award-winning films including Tokyo International Film Festival Audience Award winner Tremble All You Want – a quirky rom-com about a young woman who must choose between her childhood crush or settle for her imperfect boyfriend.
Shanghai International Film Festival Best Screenplay winner Key of Life – an ingeniously scripted deadpan comedy that sees a struggling actor and an amnesic hit man exchange identities; and One Night – a torrid drama by director Kazuya Shiraishi where a family reunites fifteen years after a dramatic incident threw their lives into chaos.
Devotees of Japanese culture can look forward to favourites from JFFs gone by, such as Railways (JFF 2011) – a heart-warming film about a grief-stricken man who finds solace in his childhood dream of becoming a train conductor.
Nostalgic drama A Story of Yonosuke (JFF 2013) – which interweaves two timelines to paint a rich portrait of one man’s life story from his 1987 college days to present; and Lady Maiko (JFF 2014) – a musical comedy that interweaves elements of Broadway and geisha culture to explore a young girl’s aspirations of becoming a maiko (apprentice geisha).
Enchanting animated adventures abound in Sumikkogurashi: Good to be in the Corner, which chronicles San-X’s beloved Sumikkogurashi characters as they embark on an unexpected journey into a magical pop-up book; and Tokyo Marble Chocolate – an anime confection in which a miniature donkey acts as a catalyst for two lovers to confront their inner emotions.
Fans of inspiring documentaries will enjoy Hong Kong International Film Festival Best Documentary Winner Peace – a visual essay-style observational film that offers a glimpse into the daily lives of people and cats in Okayama city; Tora-san in Goto, shot over 22 years, chronicling the lives of a large family of udon noodle makers in the Nagasaki Prefecture; and Tsukiji Wonderland – a seafood odyssey focusing on the world-famous Tsukiji fish markets in Tokyo.
Additional program highlights include: Café Funiculi Funicula – a fantasy-infused tale about a mystical coffee shop which allows patrons to time travel; Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday – a captivating dramedy in which seven elderly women become lost in mountainous terrain during a wilderness tour gone awry; and Stolen Identity – a surreal thriller exploring the story of a woman who becomes the target of a serial killer.
Teen music romance Our 30-Minute Sessions, about a dead musician who attempts to reunite his old band and communicate with his former girlfriend when he is brought back to life in the body of a college student who plays his old recordings; and The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice, legendary director Yasujiro Ozu’s blissfully warm 1952 Japanese classic, about a middle aged couple who find common ground over a shared meal.
The program also comprises nine animated shorts from two powerhouse creators, legendary studio Production I.G. and award-winning stop motion animator Takeshi Yashiro. Highlights include Production I.G.’s 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival Best Animated Short Film winner Kick-Heart and Takeshi Yashiro’s 2016 Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, Japan Competition Best Short Award winning Moon of a Sleepless Night.
Presented by The Japan Foundation Sydney, JFF Plus can be streamed on supported browsers including Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer and Safari. Each film will be available to stream for free for 24 hours. For more information visit: www.watch.jff.jpf.go.jp for details.
Image: Lady Maiko (film still) – courtesy of Fuji Television Network, Toho, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, Dentsu, The Kyoto Shinbum, Kyoto Broadcasting System, Altamira Pictures