17th Annual Japanese Film Festival Line Up Announced

One of our absolute favourite film festivals returns this year with a ridiculously awesome line up. There's something for everyone this year at Japan Foundation's 17th annual Japanese Film Festival. 

Over the last couple of years Geek of Oz has brought you a whole bunch of JFF reviews and 2013 is no different, expect reviews to start popping up over the next couple of weeks. 


The 17th Japanese Film Festival is proud to present a national program for the first time in festival history. 12 of the latest box office hits plus 5 classics will tour all 5 cities: Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. 11 of these are Australian premieres. 

Opening + Closing Films 

Opening the festival is a tribute to the world of words. The Great Passage is a celebration of a vision to create the best Japanese dictionary starring two of Japan’s leading actors, Ryuhei Matsuda and Aoi Miyazaki. Matsuda plays an unsuccessful salesman whose dedication and love of reading finds him the perfect editor for the task. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, this drama is infused with a touch of romance, won the Japan Bookseller's Prize last year. 

The festival will close with Fruits of Faith, a drama encapsulating the Japanese spirit of dedication in the quest for the perfect and near impossible organic apple crop. Based on a true story and best- selling novel, it stars funny man Sadao Abe in a more solemn role, who goes to lengths to follow his dream to secure the livelihood of his family. 

The Latest from Japan 
From the director of Gantz comes the live-action movie Library Wars, starring heart-throb Junichi Okada. This adaptation of Hiro Arikawa’s best-selling novel has sold more than 2.8 million copies since its publication in 2006. Hospitality Department, also written by the same author, is a heart- warming drama demonstrating the love for one’s own hometown. 

At last, the long-awaited 40 year old TV cartoon Gatchaman, also known as Battle of the Planets/G-Force, comes to Australia. Destined to become one of the biggest Japanese blockbusters this year, the live-action adaptation of Tatsunoko's classic anime joins forces with screen writer Yusuke Watanabe (Dragon Ball Z). 

Fans of Japanese thrillers will be excited to see two highly anticipated titles. Director Hideo Nakata returns with his latest J-horror in almost a decade, The Complex, which promises to be more frightening than Ring, and more agonising than Dark Water. Kiyoshi Kurosawa blurs the line between subconscious and reality in spine-chiller Real, which was awarded Special Presentation in the Toronto Film Festival 2013 and has been nominated for Official Selection at the 51st New York Film Festival 2013.

Anime fans will be excited to see Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods hit the screen, featuring the legendary voice of Masakazu Morita (Bleach, Tiger & Bunny, One Piece). For the first time in Dragon Ball history, original creator Akira Toriyama adds his name to the script, story and character design – a must-watch for any anime fans! 

Based on a journalist’s reportage, Reunion is a sober look into the immediate 10 days following Japan’s Great East Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011. For documentary lovers, The God of Ramen tells the story of charismatic noodle shop owner Kazuo Yamagishi, who owns a quaint store in East Ikebukuro. See why customer’s queued regularly for over two hours a day for a bowl of ramen – what is the secret to his success? 

A Boy called H, from Kappa Senoh’s best-selling autobiographical novel, a movie capturing the love and truth of a Japanese family in Kobe during WWII. Follow the story of a boy filled with curiosity and a sense of justice in a time when growing up happened all too quickly. This film received Special Prize at the 35th Moscow International Film Festival 2013. 

For some light-hearted romance, Blindly in Love is an innocent take on two out-casted individuals who fall madly in love with each other despite opposition. 


Silver screen enthusiasts will enjoy the line-up from the Japanese masters. Lightning by director Mikio Naruse and The Elegant Beast by director Yuzo Kawashima are both historical titles about Japanese cinema’s principal post-war themes: the breakdown of the Japanese family and the difficult living conditions. The Grand Master by director Daisuke Ito is based on the true story of Sakata Sankichi, a shogi genius, and his real rival, Sekine Kinjiro, also a shogi master. Children Hand in Hand directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, who until 1948 was a sword-drama specialist, shows a story of young school student coping with a learning disability. The Life and Times of Ichi the Masseur, also known as Tale of Zatoichi brings samurai to the screen with the adventures of Ichi, a blind and humble masseur who is a master swordsman. 

All classic titles will be free admission and will be on the website from Tuesday, 17th September 

A free abridged program traveling to regional cities Broome (17 – 18 September), Townsville (26 October), Hobart (13, 14 & 16 October), Cairns (3 November) and Darwin (TBC) include titles from the 2012 major city line-up including Arrietty, A Ghost of a Chance and A Boy & His Samurai

Sydney and Melbourne will both host an extended program to be announced during September. Please refer to the Japanese Film Festival website in the lead-up for weekly updates on additional titles. 

Major city festival dates and locations 

BRISBANE: 16 – 20 October Events Cinema Brisbane Myer Centre
PERTH: 23 – 27 October Hoyts Westfield Carousel & State Library Theatre
CANBERRA: 30 October – 3 November Capital Cinema Manuka
SYDNEY: 14 – 24 November Event Cinemas George Street
MELBOURNE: 28 November – 8 December Hoyts Melbourne Central & ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image 

Facebook: japanesefilmfest
Twitter: @japanfilmfest / #jff17


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