Press Release May 06, 2020
20th Nippon Connection Film Festival Online
From June 9 – 14, a special edition of the Japanese film festival Nippon Connection will be held in honor of its 20th anniversary. In the course of six days, Nippon Connection Online will present a selection of current and classic films from Japan and bring them into your home. The program will contain over 70 short and feature-length films from all kinds of different genres and will offer a unique and exciting insight into Japanese cinema. The films featured in this year’s program will be available via the video-on-demand platform Vimeo in exchange for a small fee. Under the title Nippon on Demand, the films can be viewed for a full 24 hours after purchase during the duration of the festival. Numerous filmmakers from Japan, who will not be able to attend in person this year, will be in contact with the audience via video messages, discussions and live broadcasts. In addition to the films, the supporting program Nippon Connected invites visitors to discover Japan's multifaceted culture with a variety of online events, including workshops, lectures, performances, and concerts. In addition, a virtual marketplace presents a wide range of offers related to Japan.
Nippon Connection Online will be presenting a multitude of outstanding productions, including Werner Herzog’s docu-fiction Family Romance, LLC, which celebrated its premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Caught somewhere between fiction and reality, Herzog tells the story of the Japanese “rent-a-friend” phenomenon by example of a real-life agency in Tokyo, in which clients are able to book paid actors to impersonate a friend, lover, or family member for a day or any given period. In honor of the renowned Nobuhiko Obayashi’s recent passing, we are proud to present his latest work Labyrinth of Cinema, an anti-war film that transports three men back in time to the year of 1945 shortly before the atomic bomb hits Hiroshima. Cult director SABU’s newest film Dancing Mary successfully moves between the genres of comedy, ghost story, and Yakuza action. J-pop performer NAOTO, in his first leading role as an actor, plays a young civil servant trying to organize the demolition of a dance theater and ends up going on a ghost hunt instead. In his captivating drama Forgiven Children, Eisuke Naito tells the story of a crime committed by a child and blurs the boundaries between perpetrator and victim. In honor of the occasion of the anniversary edition, the Best of Nippon Connection program will also feature cinematic highlights from our previous festivals.
Female Futures? – New Visions of Women in Japan
Under the title: Female Futures? – New Visions of Women in Japan, a special focus of our program will be directed towards films reflecting the roles of women not just in front of, but also behind the camera in current Japanese cinema with special support from the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain. In her dark drama Shape of Red, Yukiko Mishima challenges traditional gender roles. In her romantic comedy My Sweet Grappa Remedies, Akiko Oku portrays the life of a stern but likeable woman in her mid-40s. In documentary films especially, women are currently strongly represented. In This planet is not my Planet, Miwa Yoshimine gives an insightful character portrayal of author and feminist Mitsu Tanaka, who is widely considered to be a pioneer in fighting for women’s rights in Japan since the 1970s. Kaori Oda, who was presented with this year’s Nagisa Oshima Award, explores the myths surrounding the mysterious cave systems used by the Mayans on the Mexican peninsula Yucatán in her experimental documentary Cenote. In her documentary film Ainu: Indigenous People of Japan, Naomi Mizoguchi devotes herself to the manifold efforts of the indigenous people of northern Japan to preserve their cultural identity. The program also includes films with strong female characters in front of the camera. With i -Documentary of the Journalist-, director Tatsuya Mori provides cinematic insights into the everyday life of critical reporter Isoko Mochizuki, who defies the prevailing attitudes and conceptions in media culture. Mochizuki is also the role model for the screenplay for the feature film The Journalist by Michihito Fujii, which won three Japanese Academy Awards.
Apart from the film program, there will also be an online lecture on the role of women in Japanese film by Chantal Bertalanffy (University of Edinburgh) and a live streamed panel discussion with Japanese women directors, moderated by journalist Maggie Lee (Variety).
In addition to the variety of films, the wide-ranging supporting program under the title Nippon Connected will be offering a selection of virtual workshops, lectures, concerts, and performances that will bring a piece of Japan into your home. The program ranges from a performance by Rakugo narrator and comedian Katsura Sunshine, who regularly appears in London's West End and on Off-Broadway in New York, to a tea workshop with Yumiko Wiesheu Ono. Film expert Jörg Buttgereit will comment live on a Japanese surprise film for the audience at Nippon “Heimkino” at Home, and of course the ever-popular karaoke will be hosted online this year as well. A fantastic atmosphere and high spirits are guaranteed for the digital anniversary edition.
Of course we also thought of our youngest festival visitors for this year’s online edition of Nippon Connection. In a digital workshop, manga artist Katharina Sato will teach children how to draw cute animals in manga style. Storyteller Walburga Kliem presents an exciting fairy tale with the Japanese paper theater kamishibai, Lina Zivanovic will prepare colorful dango dumplings in a virtual cooking class, and in addition, Japanese animated films for children will be featured in the German dubbed version.
The Japanese film festival Nippon Connection is organized by a 70-person team of the non-profit association Nippon Connection, and is mainly organized by volunteers. It is under the patronage of Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main, and Angela Dorn, Hessian Minister for Science and Art.