Line-up for 6th Japan Film Festival of San Francisco Announced

2018JFFSFThe 6th Annual JAPAN FILM FESTIVAL OF SAN FRANCISCO will be held at NEW PEOPLE Cinema on September 28-October 7, 2018. Premiere screenings of the latest Japanese live-action and animation films, special appearances (Director Masato Harada, Actor Kaori Momoi, Director Yui Kiyohara), and Q&A sessions with filmmakers are planned.

Tickets are $15 unless otherwise noted. Festival Passport is $170 (this passport allows full priority access to all films at the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco). Limited quantities are available.

For additional ticket information, please visit the www.jffsf.org or email info@jffsf.org. Tickets will be available at Will Call located at the entrance of NEW PEOPLE during festival week. Bring your confirmation e-ticket with barcode and a valid photo ID.

The complete festival program is below.


(San Francisco Premiere)
September 28, 7:15 PM
2018 | 90 min | with English Subtitles

Directed by Naoko Yamada

LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD is the latest film by director Naoko Yamada from Kyoto Animation with the main staff of her critically-acclaimed film, A SILENT VOICE. As a spin-off feature film of the ‘Sound! Euphonium’ series based on Ayano Takeda’s bestselling novel, LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD revolves around Mizore and Nozomi, two best friends in their senior year of high school. With Mizore on the oboe and Nozomi on the flute, as members of the school’s brass band club, they spend their time happily together — until the club begins to practice songs inspired by the fairy tale Liz und ein Blauer Vogel (Liz and the Blue Bird).


(San Francisco Premiere)
September 29, 12:00PM
2017 | 149 min | with English Subtitles

Directed by Masato Harada

Supported by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco

★Special appearance by Director Masato Harada! ★

A film adaptation of Ryotaro Shiba’s best-selling novel which depicts a new interpretation of “The Battle of Sekigahara,” the greatest conflict of the Warring States Period in Japanese history. Daimyo Ishida Mitsunari (Junichi Okada) has doubts about the Shogun’s self-interest-based rule. Shima Sakon (Takehiro Hira) is a brave general and Hatsume (Kasumi Arimura) is an Iga ninja who serves Mitsunari. Meanwhile, the ambitious Tokugawa Ieyasu (Yakusho Koji) persuasively wins over military commanders to his side. On the October 21st in the year 1600, Mitsunari battles Ieyasu at Sekigahara.


(San Francisco Premiere)
September 29, 3:30PM
2017 | 49 min | with English Subtitles

Presented by NHK World – Japan


Within Japan, there’s a place that seems to transport visitors to another world: Gion, in Kyoto. When night falls in this historic district, nearly 100 geiko, or traditional entertainers, make their way to teahouses to perform classical arts, such as music and dance, for carefully selected guests. Kimi Ota, 77, is the proprietress of a 200-year-old teahouse. Throughout its history, it has always been run by a woman. The proprietress cannot marry, and must have a daughter who can someday take over. Peer behind the curtain into the unique and alluring world of Kyoto’s teahouses.

Cinema Kabuki: THE TALE OF BUNSHICHI (Ninjobanashi Bunshichi Mottoi)

(San Francisco Premiere)
September 29, 4:50PM
2008| 87 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Yoji Yamada

Kanzaburo Nakamura XVIII, Japan’s kabuki legend known for breaking from tradition to bring the stylized art form to younger generations and audiences overseas, teams up again with director Yoji Yamada to bring one of the most popular but difficult kabuki plays to the big screen. Chobei, a skillful plasterer, blithely gambles his family into poverty. To feed the family, his daughter Ohisa turns to prostitution. Touched by Ohisa’s selfless love for her parents, a Madam arranges a loan for Chobei. On the way home, Chobei gave his money to save a young man who, having lost a large sum that belongs to his master, is about to commit suicide. Surely Chobei has gambled away the family’s last chance.

NAMIE AMURO FINAL TOUR 2018 – FINALLY (Final Performance)

(North American Premiere)
September 29, 7:00PM
2018| 163 min | Japanese language only

J-POP living legend, Namie Amuro’s final live tour, “Finally”, will be revealed on the big screen exclusively at JFFSF! Since she shocked the world by announcing her retirement from the industry last year, her much anticipated final tours became one of the biggest events ever in Japan. Giving her fans the pleasure of picking her setlist (comprised of 24 songs voted on by fans, plus 6 new songs), this 2.5 hour long concert at Tokyo Dome proves that she is truly the “Queen of J-POP” and will be so forever. Don’t miss the rare chance to witness her evergreen performance that will remain in our memory for a long long time! We will miss Amuro-chan greatly!
NOTE: This is a screening of a live concert, not a live performance.


(San Francisco Premiere)
September 30, 12:00PM
2017 | 70 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Takumi Saitoh

BLANK 13 is actor Takumi Saitoh’s feature-film directorial debut that has also won multiple awards including the Best Director in the Asian New Talent Awards at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival. Family members learn the whereabouts of their father (Lily Franky) who vanished without a trace 13 years ago. However, he dies of cancer three months later, leaving Koji (Issei Takahashi) and his family members without closure. Koji and his family think they can’t reclaim the lost 13 years, but the stories told about their father by mourners at the funeral reveal the truth that was unknown to the family.


(North American Premiere)
September 30, 1:40PM
2017 | 99 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Maris Martinsons
Supported by Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco

★Special appearance by Actor Kaori Momoi! ★

Co-produced in Japan and the Republic of Latvia, the unusual reunion between a woman who has withdrawn into herself and her husband is depicted in this drama helmed by Latvian up-and-coming director Maris Martinsons. It stars Kaori Momoi of GHOST IN THE SHELL and Issey Ogata of SILENCE. Keiko (Kaori Momoi), who lost everything in the Great Hanshin Earthquake, has lived a lonely life alone for the past 20 years. She reluctantly takes part in a kimono show in the Latvian capital of Riga. Backstage during the show, she is confronted by a man who appears to be her husband (Issey Ogata) who had been reported missing after the earthquake.


September 30, 4:30PM
2017 | 129 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

J-horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa brings the Japanese popular theatrical play BEFORE WE VANISH to life in this feature film adaptation. Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) is bewildered by the behavior of her husband Shinji (Ryuhei Matsuda), who disappeared for a few days and has come back a changed person. Meanwhile, a family is brutally murdered in their neighborhood. Journalist Sakurai (Hiroki Hasegawa) meets a young man named Amano (Mahiro Takasugi) while investigating the story and goes on a search for high school girl Tachibana Akira (Yuri Tsunematsu), who holds the key to explaining the murders.


October 1, 7:15PM
2017 | 93 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa

Award-winning anime director Yuasa Masaaki paints the most mesmerizing romantic comedy adapting Morimi Tomihiko’s novel of the same name. Set in the enchanting city of Kyoto, Senpai (senior), a male university student is secretly in love with Otome (girl) with the black hair. He searches for her everywhere he goes: into the night alley of Pontocho, at the used book market at Shimogamo Shrine, and at the annual university fair… But she never realizes how he feels, and each time he “happens” to run into her, she simply says “What a coincidence!” Will Senpai ever get her to realize his love?


October 2, 7:15PM
2017 | 93min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Koki Shigeno

This documentary gives an intimate look at enthusiastic fans of ramen and the chefs who make it. Over a 15-month-long shoot, Chukasoba Tomita proprietor Tomita Osamu and his customers are interviewed revealing the history of ramen’s evolution while also painting a portrait of Japan’s distinct ramen culture. The camera captures Tomita’s virtually apprentice monk-like daily life: the obsessive caution exercised toward his soup and noodles; the care and precision practiced toward the ingredients; the severe scolding toward his pupils; the extraordinary care toward his customers; and his exploration of ramen shops on his days off.


October 3, 7:15PM
2016 | 129 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Naoko Yamada

The animated adaptation of Oima Yoshitoki’s multi-award-winning comic about the association between a hearing-impaired girl and the toughest boy at school. It is directed by Yamada Naoko, whose TAMAKO LOVE STORY won the New Face Award at the 2014 Japan Media Arts Festival’s Animation Division. Ishida Shoya (voice: Irino Miyu), the leader of a group of mischievous elementary schoolboys, is ostracized by those around him on account of an incident involving transfer student Nishimiya Shoko (voice: Hayami Saori). Five years later, Shoya, now an emotionally hardened high schooler, once again pays Shoko a visit.


October 4, 7:15PM
2017 | 102 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Stephen Nomura Schible

One of the most important artists of our era, Ryuichi Sakamoto has had a prolific career spanning over four decades. From techno-pop stardom to Oscar-winning film composer, the evolution of his music has coincided with his life journeys. Following Fukushima, Sakamoto became an iconic figure in Japan’s social movement against nuclear power. As Sakamoto returns to music following a cancer diagnosis, his haunting awareness of the ephemerality of life gives birth to a resounding new masterpiece. RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA is an intimate portrait of both the artist and the man.

DigiCon6 ASIA Awards: The Wonders of Animation Shorts

(North American Premiere)
October 5, 7:15PM
83 min | with English Subtitles | Featured directors: Kaori Iwase, Shinya Hashizume, Takahiro Miyauchi,Takuya Okada, Tomoki Misato, Honami Yano, Woohyun Kim, Sayaka Kihata, Yantong Zhu, Yoko Yuki, Q-rais,
Manabu Himeda

DigiCon6 ASIA Awards is an annual competition held each fall, which seeks and recognizes talented creators throughout Asia (ex: Japan, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand) for their outstanding works. JFFSF and DigiCon6 collaborate to showcase 11 award-winning animation shorts to share the wonders of imagination colorfully expressed in a variety of forms and styles of animation. DigiCon6 also provides creators with opportunities to expand their creative ground by supporting their innovative minds and activities year-round internationally.


(San Francisco Premiere)
October 6, 12:00PM
2017| 73 min | with English Subtitles
Presented by NHK WORLD-Japan


LIFE Magazine calls Japan’s Edo era master painter Katsushika Hokusai one of 100 people who left the most important achievements of the past millennium. Assisting him behind the scenes, however, was a woman: his daughter, O-Ei. Since her childhood, O-Ei was captivated by painting. When she returns to the family home after her divorce, she began assisting her father. O-Ei was by his side as he completed his iconic “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” series. When Hokusai grew too old to wield his brush freely, O-Ei became his “brush” and painted on his behalf. It was during this time that she began to cultivate a strong fascination with colors as she finally developed her own painting style.


(San Francisco Premiere)
October 6, 1:45PM
2017| 80 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Yui Kiyohara

★Special appearance by Director Yui Kiyohara! ★

Director Yui Kiyohara makes a memorable debut with this poetic, slow-moving chiller about an otherworldly collision of parallel lives — a girl who has lost her father and a woman who loses her memory intersect in the same house. Seri (Nodoka Kawanishi) has been living together with her mother Kiriko (Yuriko Yasuno) ever since her father vanished and has conflicting feelings about Toko’s new boyfriend. Meanwhile, Toko (Mei Fujiwara) meets amnesiac Sana (Mariwo Osawa) and allows her to stay in her house. Official Selection at NY MOMA’s New Directors New Films 2018 & Berlin International Film Festival 2018.


(San Francisco Premiere)
October 6, 4:15PM
2018 | 49 min | with English Subtitles
Presented by NHK WORLD-Japan


Take an up-close and personal behind-the-scenes look at Japan’s leading electro-pop trio Perfume’s live concert, “Reframe”. As part of the “This is NIPPON Premium Theater” project aimed towards spreading Japanese culture around the world during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, this show was formed by breaking down past Perfume shows and rebuilding them into a brand-new, unforgettable stage performance. Get ready to be blown away by performances that use cutting-edge technology unlike anything you’ve seen before.


(San Francisco Premiere)
October 6, 5:45PM
2017 | 96 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Shinichiro Ueda

Director Shinichiro Ueda’s marvelously inventive indie flick has been lighting the box office on fire in Japan. The film opens in a run-down, abandoned warehouse where a film crew are making a zombie film…Yet, this is no ordinary warehouse. It’s been said that it’s the site of military experiments…Out of nowhere, real zombies arrive and terrorize the crew! This may sound like the plot of a clichéd zombie film, but ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is something completely different! Starting off with a nonstop one-take 37-minute shot, the film then completely switches direction and turns the zombie genre completely upside down into a charming, audience-friendly comedy!

Tokyo Short Shorts 2018

(West Coast Premiere)
October 7, 12:00PM
2017 | 70 min | with English Subtitles
Featured directors: Genevieve Clay-Smith, Akira Boch, Tsuguhisa Tanaka, Hiroki Horanai
Co-presented by the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia

Our popular collaboration with Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia came is back to exclusively premiere a collection of award-winning short films directed by a new generation of filmmakers! SHAKESPEARE IN TOKYO directed by Genevieve Clay-Smith, MICHI’S SUBURBAN COMMUTE directed by Tsuguhisa Tanaka,  TOKYO COMET directed by Hiroki Horanai, andOUR MAN IN TOKYO directed by Akira Boch


(North American Premiere)
October 7, 1:45PM
2018 | 35 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Brad Kremer & Christopher Frey
Presented by Cross Media International


THM: ILLUSTRATION OF AN ICON follows Takahashi Hiroyuki-Mitsume as he strives to bring his fresh and vividly futuristic artwork from the backstreets of Tokyo across the Pacific to an international audience at the J-Pop Summit in San Francisco. With the help of an American “otaku” writer (Patrick Macias), a pioneering anime executive (Vince Shortino), and a new Japanese talent manager (Yuichi Kawakami), can Takahashi’s unbound and undefined form of creative and personal expression resonate with a global audience, or will it simply be lost in translation?


October 7, 2:45PM
2018 | 74 min | with English Subtitles
Directors: Xiaoxing Yi, Yoshitaka Takeuchi, Haoling Li

From CoMix Wave Films, the creative visionaries behind the international phenomenon Makoto Shinkai’s YOUR NAME, comes Netflix’s new anime feature film FLAVORS OF YOUTH, in association with Chinese studio Haoliners. Memories in a bowl of steaming noodles, a fading beauty finding her way and a bittersweet first love — all in these stories of city life in China. This triptych anthology film explores the simple joys of life through sensual memories and how the beating heart of love cannot be defeated by the flow of time.

DEAR ETRANGER – Closing Film

(San Francisco Premiere)
October 7, 4:30PM
2017 | 127 min | with English Subtitles
Directed by Yukiko Mishima

Directed by up-and-coming female director Yukiko Mishima, the film has won the 2017 Montreal World Film Festival, World Competition, Special Grand Prix of the Jury. Makoto (Tadanobu Asano) is unable to get along with the daughter of his second wife, Nanae (Rena Tanaka). With Nanae now expecting their first child, Makoto can no longer say he looks forward to meeting with his daughter from his previous marriage to Yuka (Shinobu Terajima). As Makoto begins to feel suffocated by his current family, he decides in desperation to have his stepdaughter meet with her father, Sawada (Kankuro Kudo).


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