Returning for its 17th year running, the largest festival of Japanese Cinema in the UK is back with the theme of “happiness”.

The idea of happiness is such an individual concept, that it is hard to define the true meaning of the word. However difficult it is to describe what happiness means to us, there is one thing that we can all agree on, that being the importance of happiness to humans. For this year’s film festival, the Japan Programme has curated a line up with a long running theme that has existed in Japanese theatre; the search for happiness.

Seeking to represent the experiences of numerous individuals as they go on their pursuit of happiness, the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020 will showcase a number of stories covering love, hardships and achieving and maintaining happiness.

In addition to showcasing some of the finest Japanese films, this year’s programme will see two distinguished directors attend special Q&A screenings of their films. Ozaki Masaya, director of Her Sketchbook and Nobutomo Naoko, director of I go Gaga, My Dear will attend special screenings which can be found listed on the homepage of the film festival here.

About the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is an event which enables people to experience Japan through cinema. The Programme, which has been run by the Japan Foundation since 2004, sees notable film venues across the UK screen numerous contemporary Japanese film titles which have never had a UK release during the spring season. The organisation also takes pride in being one of the only Japanese film festivals that tours outside of London to other venues in the UK as well as showcasing inspirational and exciting works which may have slipped under the radar.

Each year a certain theme is chosen for the film festival, and six to seven Japanese titles are put together to form the programme for the event. Popular themes worth noting that the Japan Foundation have shown in the past include Comic Proportions: Japanese films adapted from Manga (2006), Girls on Film: Females in contemporary Japanese cinema (2010) and Back to the Future: Japanese cinema since the mid-90s (2011).

This year, the event has been programmed and produced by Junko Takekawa and Mayu Honda. Coordination is provided by Darian De La Cruz, with help by Yukino Ishimaru and Jessica Mancoo.

Shinohara Ryoko stars in The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps 人魚の眠る家 (poster is for Japanese domestic run) | © PR Times, Inc.

Films to be shown during the 2020 festival

This year's film programme consists of the following titles:

My Love Story!! - Director Kawai Hayato
Our Meal for Tomorrow - Director Ichii Masahide
Her Sketchbook - Director Ozaki Masaya
A Banana? At This Time of Night? - Director Maeda Tetsu
Organ - Director Hiramatsu Emiko
The Actor - Director Yokohama Satoko
Little Nights, Little Love - Director Imaizumi Rikiya
Jesus - Director Okuyama Hiroshi
Another World - Director Sakamoto Junji
Bento Harassment - Director Tsukamoto Renpei
My Dad is a Heel Wrestler - Director Fujimura Kyohei
Lying to Mom - Director Nojiri Katsumi
Shadowfall - Director Shinohara Tetsuo
And Your Bird Can Sing - Director Miyake Sho
Sea of Revival - Director Shiraishi Kazuya
The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps - Director Tsutsumi Yukihiko
Kakegurui Compulsive Gambler - Director Hanabusa Tsutomu
Ten Dark Women - Director Ichikawa Kon
I Go Gaga, My Dear - Director Nobutomo Naoko
Ride Your Wave - Director Yuasa Masaaki

Participating Film Venues

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme will be taking place on numerous dates at the following locations around the UK:

Aberdeen @ Belmont Filmhouse 10th March - 12th March
Belfast @ Queen’s Film Theatre 19th February - 29th March
Bristol @ Watershed 3rd February - 24th February
Cardiff @ Chapter Arts Centre 8th February - 15th March
Chester @ Storyhouse 2nd February - 23rd February
Colchester @ Firstsite 8th February - 28th March
Derby @ QUAD 7th February - 23rd February
Dundee @ Dundee Contemporary Arts 3rd February - 29th February
Edinburgh @ Filmhouse 13th March - 19th March
Exeter @ Exeter Phoenix 4th March - 25th March
Halifax @ Square Chapel 16th February - 29th March
Inverness @ Eden Court 5th March - 15th March
Kendal @ Brewery Arts Centre 7th February - 27th March
Leicester @ Phoenix Leicester 1st February - 24th March
Lewes @ Depot 17th February - 5th March
London @ ICA 31st January - 16th February
Manchester @ HOME 11th February - 29th February
Newcastle Upon Tyne @ Tyneside 15th February - 1st March
Nottingham @ Broadway 20th March - 26th March
Sheffield @ Showroom Cinema 2nd February - 25th February
Stamford @ Stamford Arts Centre 27th March only
Stirling @ Macrobert Arts Centre 24th February - 23rd March

More information regarding the event such as individual film screening locations, dates and timings can be found on the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme’s website.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.