Art & Design


Japanese Film Festival

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Don’t be bummed if you can’t afford an overseas trip because Japan will be coming to Melbourne in late November, sort of. The 15th annual Japanese Film Festival — running from November 29 to December 6 — will feature an eclectic mix of genres spanning samurai, anime, sci-fi, action and documentary.

The festival showcases the creme de la creme of recent Japanese drama. Star Watching Dog (December 3, 2pm @ ACMI), about a man and his dog as they embark on a road trip across eastern Japan, has already been likened by critics to Australia’s box office hit Red Dog. Audiences are invited to witness the depths of substance abuse and self-destruction in The Fallen Angel (December 4, 4pm @ ACMI), based on the autobiography of decadent writer Osamu Dazai. Railways is also based on a true story, as it follows the heart-warming story of Hajime Tsutsui, a hardworking family man whose dream is to be a humble train driver.

For those who prefer something a bit more lighthearted, Japan’s version of the Harry Potter phenomenon in Ninja Kids!!! (December 3, 2pm @ ACMI) is sure to charm parents and children alike as they’re taken inside the magical realm of a ninja school. A Boy and His Samurai (December 6, 10.30am @ ACMI) is a romantic comedy about a mother who enlists the help of a time-traveling samurai to babysit her son. Wackiness ensues when a couple’s honeymoon veers off course in A Honeymoon in the Hell: Mr. & Mrs. Oki’s Fabulous Trip (December 2, 6.30pm @ Hoyts Melbourne Central).

Besides the futuristic sci-fi flicks about black orbs and battles to save the planet from destruction are some achingly real accounts of two recent events that have shaken Japanese society. Yamakoshi: The Recovery of a Tiny Japanese Village (November 30, 6.30pm @ Hoyts Melbourne Central) explores the challenges faced by villagers who survived the Great Chuetsu Earthquake of 2004. Their spirited determination to rebuild their lives in the face of such adversity has inspired those who have been affected by catastrophe earlier this year. In a similar vein to Yamakoshi, The Town’s Children (November 30, 9.15pm @ Hoyts Melbourne Central) is an emotional documentary that follows two young survivors of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake and their return to the city that once lay in ruins.

For those who wish to learn more about Japan’s history, traditions and also the cinematic conventions that have defined Japan’s national cinema in recent times, the festival is sure to impress.

For session times, venue information and online ticket sales visit:

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