Toronto Japanese Film Festival Highlights

The 5th annual Toronto Japanese Film Festival is set for June 9 to 23, 2016 at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. The Festival will showcase the finest Japanese films that have been recognized for excellence by Japanese audiences and critics, international film festival audiences and the Japanese Film Academy.  The Festival’s program includes popular genres such as historical (samurai) jidaigeki, contemporary dramas, comedies and action, literary adaptations, children’s, art-house and anime films.  There will be 24 premieres including international, North American, Canadian, or Toronto.

“For our 2016 festival, we have worked hard to find a wide range of films that represent the broad spectrum of great cinema created in Japan.”, said James Heron, Executive Director of the Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre.  “We have an exciting line-up this year; we invite you to be a part of this stunning festival, and enjoy some of the best that Japanese film has to offer”.

Some highlights of the 2016 Japanese Film Festival include:

OPENING NIGHT FILM: The festival will open with the North American Premiere of Yoji Yamada’s NAGASAKI – MEMORIES OF MY SON: the story of a mother who is visited by the ghost of her son, a young medical student killed in the atomic bombing.  The film was nominated for 12 Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film and the top acting awards; one of the Top Ten films for the Year by Kinema Jumpo.  Featuring a haunting score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, the film stars Sayuri Yoshinaga, Kazunari Ninomiya, Haru Kuroki, Tadanobu Asano.

Persona Non GrataThe Canadian Premiere of PERSONA NON GRATA: the true story of the Japanese Consul in Lithuania who saved 6000 Jewish lives in WWII at extraordinary personal risk. Director Cellin Gluck will attend the festival to introduce this major international co-production.

The Canadian Premiere of THE EMPEROR IN AUGUST: Voted best film of the year at the Association of Japanese Film Journalists Awards, Masato Harada’s (Kakekomi, Chronicle of My Mother) powerful political drama tells the little known story behind Japan’s surrender in the Pacific War. Starring Koji Yakusho, Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki

The Canadian Premiere of award-winning director Mipo O’s (The Sun Shine Only There) moving and unforgettable contemplation on child raising and compassion: BEING GOOD.

Being good

The International Premiere of NOBUNAGA CONCERTO: Hiroaki Matsuyama’s adaptation of the mega-hit manga and television series beat Star Wars at the Japanese box-office and asks the question: “What if one of Japan’s most important historical figures was in fact a time traveling teen from the present?” Spectacular action, gorgeous visuals and an all-star cast enliven this wild mix of samurai drama, comedy and time travel. Starring Shun Oguri, Kou Shibasaki, Takayuki Yamada, Kiko Mizuhara.

The Canadian Premiere of PARASYTE (Parts 1 and 2):  Takashi Yamazaki’s hit adaptation of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s popular manga in which a high school student and his alien-inhabited shape-shifting right hand battle to save humankind from extinction by an alien invasion of cannibalistic parasites. The new film from the director of The Eternal Zero is a big-budget sci-fi thriller with a healthy dose of humour, an all-star cast and some mind-blowing special effects. Starring Shota Sometani, Eri Fukatsu, Sadao Abe, Ai Hashimoto, Masahiro Higashide, Nao Omori, Kazuki Kitamura, Tadanobu Asano

The International Premiere of Nobuo Mizuta’s SING MY LIFE: a charming remake of the Hwang Dong-hyuk’s Korean box office smash comedy about a 73 year-old women who, mysteriously finding herself in the body of her 20 year-old, decides to pursue a childhood dream. Starring Mikako Tabe, Mitsuko Basho, Satomi Kobayashi.

The International Premiere of SAILOR SUIT AND MACHINE GUN – GRADUATION: a blood-soaked, tongue-in-cheek “spiritual sequel” to Hiroko Yakushimaru’s cult 1981 yakuza satire. High school student and yakuza mob boss Izumi Hoshi (J-pop star Kanna Hashimoto) attempts (unsuccessfully) to resume ordinary student life after wreaking bloody revenge on the people who murdered her yakuza boss father.

Hana's Miso SoupOther films include Yoshihiro Nakamura’s THE INERASABLE, Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s THREE STORIES OF LOVE, Keishi Otomo’s RUROUNI KENSHIN – KYOTO  INFERNO and  RUROUNI KENSHIN – THE LEGENDS ENDS, Nobuhiro Doi’s FLYING COLOURS, Haruhiko Arai’s WHEN I WAS MOST BEAUTIFUL, Tomoake Akune’s HANA’S MISO SOUP and Yukihiro Tsutsumi’s THE BIG BEE.

All films at the Japanese Film Festival are screened at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. All films are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

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Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

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