Press Release Mar 16, 2022
22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival: first program highlights
May 24 to 29, 2022, Frankfurt am Main // Actor Masatoshi Nagase will receive Nippon Honor Award // First highlights of the film and supporting programs
From May 24 to 29, 2022, the 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt am Main will present an exciting cross-section of Japanese filmmaking with around 100 short and feature-length films. The supporting program offers insights into Japanese culture with numerous workshops, lectures, and concerts. Whereas the last two editions took place exclusively online due to the pandemic, this year the festival will return to on-site venues. Additionally, a portion of the film program will be available via video-on-demand from May 30 to June 6, 2022.
Nippon Honor Award
For the sixth time, the festival will present the Nippon Honor Award. The award is a tribute to outstanding personalities for their special contributions to Japanese cinema. This year’s awardee is renowned actor Masatoshi Nagase, who has become famous for his reserved portrayal of close-lipped and torn characters ever since his first role in P. P. Rider by Shinji Somai (1983). Nagase gained international recognition with films like Mystery Train (1989) and Paterson (2016) by Jim Jarmusch, as well as Cold Fever (1995) by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. Besides working with filmmakers such as Sion Sono, Gakuryu Ishii, and Yoji Yamada, he has also collaborated with Japanese female director Naomi Kawase. For his role in Kawase’s Sweet Bean (2015), he was awarded the prize for Best Leading Actor at the 37th Yokohama Film Festival.
This year, several films with Nagase can be seen at the Nippon Connection Film Festival as German premieres, among them Under The Stars (2020) by Tatsushi Omori, in which Nagase plays a family father who has joined an esoteric sect. In Keita Fujimoto’s Just The Two of Us (2020), he portrays a paraplegic finding new hope through his blind nurse. Jim Jarmusch’s cult film Mystery Train will be shown as a 35mm copy at a special screening in the Cinema at the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum. Nagase will participate in Q&As after the screenings and look back at his career in an extensive talk session. The award ceremony will take place at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm on May 29, 2022.
An ode to cinema; Yakuza gangsters & the art of animation
Nippon Connection celebrates its return to the big screens with an ode to cinema: Talking The Pictures (2019) by Masayuki Suo is a racy comedy about Japanese silent film narrators (benshi) at the beginning of the 20th century, in which Nippon Honor awardee Masatoshi Nagase can be seen as an alcoholic rogue. Fans of genre films will enjoy Last of the Wolves (2021). In his gripping yakuza thriller, director Kazuya Shiraishi introduces the audience to the criminal underworld of Hiroshima. The festival will also present numerous animation films, for which the Japanese film industry has long garnered international reputation. Masaaki Yuasa, known for the eccentric masterpiece Mind Game (2004) and the Netflix series Devilman Crybaby (2018), returns to the cinema with Inu-Oh (2021): the story of two outcasts gaining fame in feudal Japan by their musical and dance performances offers virtuosic animation, as well as an outstanding soundtrack. Dozens of Norths (2021), the first feature-length film by Oscar-nominated animation artist Koji Yamamura, will have its German premiere. In expressionistic images, Yamamura deals with the trauma that the triple disaster of March 2011 has caused in Japanese society.
Stories of Youth
This year’s thematic focus Stories of Youth, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, offers insights into the lives of young people in Japan and the various experiences and challenges they are facing. Shogo Kusano’s drama What She Likes (2021) illustrates how difficult it still is to come out in conservative Japanese society: In order not to attract attention, a teenage boy pretends to be in love with a girl from his class. Director Yuya Ishii, who recently won the Japanese Academy Film Prize, also tells the story of an adolescent: In A Madder Red, a boy is confronted with the loss of his father against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time he has to defend himself against bullying.
Concerts, workshops & lectures
The supporting program Nippon Culture gives the audience a chance to explore Japanese culture – both on-site in Frankfurt and online. In addition to concerts with renowned koto musician Karin Nakagawa and the German-Japanese duo Die Yamasakis, various workshops on arts and crafts will be offered. Paula Nishikawara presents artistic printing with real fish, and Michiyo Yamashita will teach Kintsugi: a skillful way of repairing broken ceramics with gold-colored lacquer. Foodies can learn how to prepare a bento box or Japanese sweets. Ursula Gräfe, translator of Haruki Murakami’s novels, will give insights into professional literary translation. The program of the Nippon Kids section includes an online lecture on the everyday life of Japanese children and teenagers, as well as a manga drawing course.
The complete program and tickets are expected to be available on the festival homepage NipponConnection.com from mid-May 2022.
Besides the festival centers in the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and the Theater Willy Praml at Naxoshalle, further venues will include the Cinema at the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, the Mal Seh’n Kino and the International Theater. For the first time, screenings and events will also take place at the Eldorado Arthouse Kino and the Bürgerhaus Bornheim.
Following the festival, from May 30 to June 6, 2022, a portion of the film program will be featured on the festival’s streaming platform Watch.NipponConnection.com under the title Nippon Connection On Demand (in Germany only).
The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized by the 70-member, largely voluntary, team of the non-profit association Nippon Connection e.V. It is under the patronage of Angela Dorn (Hessian Minister for Science and Art), Peter Feldmann (Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main) and the Consulate General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main. Since its founding in 2000, Nippon Connection has become the world’s largest platform for Japanese cinema and the most popular film festival in Hesse.