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‘What Lies Beneath’ UK-wide Japanese Film Festival

What Lies Beneath
🔖 9 min read

For its UK-wide Japanese film festival dubbed “What Lies Beneath,” the Japan Foundation is excited to return to the big screen after temporarily going online due to the Covid-19 crisis last year.

Working with partner theatres the Japan Foundation presents an exceptional line-up of Japanese movies that Japanese film aficionados will not want to miss.

From criminal thrillers to charming dramas, the programme will exhibit the cinematic voices and abilities of both seasoned and young directors.

The Intricate Representations of a ‘Dark Mind’ in Japanese Cinema

Inspiration for the Japanese film festival

From recently released contemporary works to anime and rare classics, this programme aims to demonstrate how films, seemingly different in tone and style, have the same facet running through them and that all ultimately deal in human darkness. With an assortment of stories about people from different walks of life, this programme will showcase the cinematic voices and skills of both experienced and emerging filmmakers and aims to cater to the varied tastes of the UK audiences.

In the twenty-first century, what does it mean to have a mysterious “dark mind” lurking under the surface? What would happen if it became a driving factor in one’s life? Is it possible that a broader range of people would agree on what it means today that our society is more complex than ever before? Is such a state of mind fascinating to see in a film?

The Dark Side of the Human Mind

The human mind is very complex. Our minds are filled with a variety of emotions and sensations that may change from positive to negative depending on the situation we find ourselves in.

According to Christians, the seven deadly sins have been historically used to identify an “evil mentality,” which includes anything from wrath to jealousy to pride. We all have varying degrees of this attribute, and it is part of our nature, regardless of whether we are conscious of it or not.

Ironically, these gloomy feelings make life more intriguing and give a fascinating source of creativity since they frequently lend an unique flavor to works of entertainment. Because of this, thrillers have always remained a popular genre.

A ‘Dark Mind’ in Japanese Cinema

There is enough inspiration in the darkness that smoulders in our brains to make pictures that are acknowledged as relevant by viewers even when the films do not deal with illegal circumstances.

Vengeance Is Mine by IMAMURA Shohei, a Japanese ‘crime and punishment’ film, is an example of a successful crime film in Japan that has been popularised by film-makers for many years.

Keeping the theme in mind and posing these questions, the 19th Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme will select some of the very best films released in Japan: Spaghetti Code Love is a stylish film that faithfully explores the lives of contemporary young people in Tokyo who juggle a variety of feelings to survive.

I Shall Live by Myself is a rare film focusing on an aged woman living alone. This charming work is not only concerned with the strength of her personality but also subtly depicts the remorse and loneliness in her long life.

Ever the socially conscious director, ZEZE Takahisa explores the issues and problems that three contemporary mothers face in his recent work, Tomorrow’s Dinner Table.

Film Line-up

The film programme will be nationwide from 4 February – 31 March 2022. For London residents, all films will be played at the ICA from 4 – 13 February 2022 at the ICA.

Eternally Younger Than Those Idiots

YOSHINO Ryohei, 2020, 118 min

Eternally Younger Than Those IdiotsHaving various apprehensive feelings about her life, including being a virgin at the age of 22, yet seemingly indifferent, Horigai (SAKUMA Yui) finds some solace in the bond she forms with the reserved Inogi (Nao).

However, soon her life will face a new phase of sadness and violence.

First Love

TSUTSUMI Yukihiko, 2021, 119 min

First Love

A stylish psychological thriller revolving around the sessions between a clinical psychologist, Yuki (KITAGAWA Keiko), and a young woman, Kanna (YOSHINE Kyoko), who stabbed her father to death without an apparent motive.

The Voice of Sin

DOI Nobuhiro, 2020, 142 min

The Voice of Sin

An investigative journalist (OGURI Shun) on the hunt to solve a cold case of extortion dating back thirty years, meets a man (HOSHINO Gen) who has suddenly come into possession of a cassette tape exactly like the ones used in the blackmail plot all those years ago. Was he involved?

Will I Be Single Forever?

FUKUDA Momoko, 2021, 94 min

Will I Be Single Forever?Mami (TANAKA Minami) is a writer in her thirties, who once shot to fame for her essay glorifying singledom but has now begun to doubt if being single is what she wants. Three other women from different walks of life also come to crossroads of their own… Will they each find their own happiness?

Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction

YOSHIDA Daihachi, 2020, 113 min

Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction

When the president of a publisher giant suddenly dies, a power struggle ensues. Amid the crisis, Akira (OIZUMI Yo), the capable editor of a failing culture magazine, attempts to breathe new life into the publication. However, those around him may have some other ideas…

Tomorrow’s Dinner Table

ZEZE Takahisa, 2021, 124 min

Tomorrow’s Dinner Table

Three mothers unrelated to one another are inexplicably connected – all three of their sons share the same name, ISHIBASHI Yu. Each woman must grapple with her own feelings of anger and anxiety towards her respective child which soon bubble over…

Blue

YOSHIDA Keisuke, 2021, 107 min

Blue

Kazuki (HIGASHIDE Masahiro) seems to have everything. Glorious success on the boxing ring and a bright future in his love.

Nobuto (MATSUYAMA Kenichi) and his disciple Tsuyoshi (EMOTO Tokio), however, struggle in and out of the ring. Will the efforts and enthusiasm of all three men be enough to achieve what they want?

Ora, Ora Be Goin' Alone

OKITA Shuichi, 2020, 138 min

Ora, Ora Be Goin' Alone

An elderly housewife, Momoko (TANAKA Yuko), finds her hopes for peaceful twilight years with her husband dashed at his sudden death. In her enduring solitude, she starts hearing three ‘voices’ who attempt to liven up her life.

colorless

KOYAMA Takashi, 2019, 122 min

colorless

Shu (KANEKO Daichi), a fledgling photographer, finds his muse in the form of a young model, Yuka (ISHIKAWA Ruka).

As his career takes off, and he becomes romantically involved with Yuka, he gradually begins to suspect that she isn’t all that he believed her to be.

The Lone Ume Tree

WAJIMA Kotaro, 2021, 77 min

The Lone Ume Tree

The life of a middle-aged man with autism, Tadao (TSUKAJI Muga), goes through an unexpected transition when his ageing single mother Tamako (KAGA Mariko) decides to send him to a group home in the hope that he can live independently. However, the move isn’t free of trouble.

THE CONFIDENCE MAN JP

TANAKA Akira, 2019, 116 min

THE CONFIDENCE MAN JP

A gang of professional con men set their sights on a legendary diamond said to be in the possession of a ruthless Hong Kong mafia queen.

Will their best-laid plans for a grand heist be scuppered when other players unexpectedly enter the game?

Life: Untitled

YAMADA Kana, 2019, 98 min

Life: Untitled

In a ramshackle office of one of Tokyo’s inconspicuous, low-rent escort services, the lives of the call girls waiting for their next client intersect and are laid bare in all their day-to-day humdrum, with visits to local love hotels, and the inevitable rivalries and catfights.

Iwane: Sword of Serenity

MOTOKI Katsuhide, 2019, 121 min

Iwane: Sword of Serenity

A tragic incident forces SAKAZAKI Iwane (MATSUZAKA Tori), a hitherto well-respected samurai admired for his sword-fighting skills, to leave his town and his fiancée as he becomes a wandering ronin.

Soon after he picks up work as a bodyguard, he discovers a conspiracy is afoot and is determined to foil the plot.

Spaghetti Code Love

MARUYAMA Takeshi, 2021, 96 min

Spaghetti Code Love

A modern and stylish tale of fragile young lives under the pressures of ambition, love, and general existence, which weaves in and out of the perspectives of its multiple flawed protagonists in a series of vignettes.

Aristocrats

SODE Yukiko, 2021, 124 min

 

Aristocrats

When the paths of Hanako (KADOWAKI Mugi) and Miki (MIZUHARA Kiko), who come from different social backgrounds, are set on a collision course over the affections of aristocratic lawyer Koichiro (KORA Kengo), both women realise that there may be other paths available to them.

Liar x Liar

YAKUMO Saiji, 2021, 117 min

Liar x Liar

Toru (MATSUMURA Hokuto) runs into a disguised Minato (MORI Nana) and falls for her, unaware that she is really his stepsister. But Minato doesn’t like him and pretends to be someone else.

How long will Minato be able to keep up the ruse?

Shrieking in the Rain

UCHIDA Eiji, 2021, 102 min

Shrieking in the Rain

On the set of a film studio in the summer of 1988 and trying to realise her artistic vision without compromises, first-time director Hanako (MATSUMOTO Marika) is besieged by problems from all sides as she approaches the shooting of the film’s climactic love scene, which is heavy in eroticism.

The Sound of Grass

SAITO Hisashi, 2021, 116 min

The Sound of Grass

Suffering from poor mental health and unable to continue with his work, Kazuo (HIGASHIDE Masahiro), returns to his hometown with his wife. Following the advice of his psychiatrist, he begins to jog every day as part of his treatment.

During his new routine, he has unusual encounters with local teenagers and gradually something begins to change…

The House of the Lost on the Cape

KAWATSURA Shinya, 2021, 105 min

The House of the Lost on the Cape

Separated from their families and having no place to go, two young girls, Yui (voiced by ASHIDA Mana) and Hiyori (voiced by AWANO Sari), are given the chance to start afresh by a kindly but strange old lady who invites them into her home – a mayoiga (old Japanese folkloric concept).

The Hunter’s Diary

NAKAHIRA Ko, 1964, 123 min

The Hunter’s Diary

Trouble starts for misogynist and philanderer HONDA Ichiro (NAKAYA Noboru) when a string of women he has had sexual affairs with (details of which he meticulously recorded in his ‘hunter’s diary’) begin to die in mysterious circumstances with Ichiro as the only suspect.

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