Join us for a series of virtual screenings featuring some of the latest film releases from Japan!
About the Film Series
This survey of recent films from Japan has something for everyone: new films from veteran masters Kiyoshi Kurosawa and the late Nobuhiko Obayashi, exciting new work from directors just breaking out with subjects as varied as the cenotes of Mexico and the maverick photographer Daido Moriyama, and more. All films are streaming for free.
This series is co-presented by the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art; and the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan.
Join us later for an interview with up-and-coming director Hirobumi Watanabe and film critic Mark Schilling!
The following films will be available to stream online beginning September 18, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT. Please refer to this page for more specific program dates and the latest lineup.
Please note that some films are unrated. Viewer discretion is advised.
To the Ends of the Earth | 旅のおわり世界のはじまり Japan | 2019 | 120 min | Drama, Feature | Directed by KUROSAWA Kiyoshi Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Tokyo Sonata) takes a detour outside of Japan in this film starring former J-Pop idol Atsuko Maeda (of AKB48) as Yoko, a television reporter filming a travel show in Uzbekistan. Between wading around a lake fishing with a grumpy, misogynist fisherman, repeatedly riding a nausea-inducing carnival ride, and pretending to enjoy a plate of uncooked rice at the behest of her sadistic director, Yoko explores the cities of Samarkand and Tashkent on her own.
Labyrinth of Cinema | 海辺の映画館 -キネマの玉手箱- Japan | 2020 | 179 min | Drama, Feature | Directed by OBAYASHI Nobuhiko
Best known in the US for his bonkers cult horror movie House, Nobuhiko Obayashi, who passed away in April, left Labyrinth of Cinema as his final statement. Shot and edited while he was being treated for the cancer that would kill him, the film is at once a passionate anti-war statement and a wacky romp through Japanese cinema history.
My Sweet Grappa Remedies | 陳腐な男 Japan | 2020 | 107 min | Drama, Feature | Directed by OHKU Akiko
Tender and wistful, with dashes of comedy and fantasy, Akiko Ohku’s film follows single, 40-something Yoshiko (Yasuko Matsuyuki) as she enjoys life’s simple pleasures—riding her beloved bike, indulging in a drink or two in the evening—as she narrates her thoughts through a hypnotic internal monologue.
Book-Paper-Scissors | つつんで、ひらいて Japan | 2019 | 94 min | Documentary | Directed by HIROSE Nanako
Now in his 70s, master book designer Nobuyoshi Kikuchi has designed over 15,000 books in a career lasting four decades. Happily anachronistic, he continues to use old fashioned scissors, rulers and pencils to create his designs.
Cenote | セノーテ Japan/Mexico | 2018 | 81 min | Documentary | Directed by ODA Kaori
Experimental documentarian Kaori Oda seems to thrive in extreme environments. Her previous film Aragone was shot in a Bosnian coal mine. In Cenote, she literally dives into the natural sinkholes unique to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula known as cenotes.
The Past is Always New, the Future is Always Nostalgic: Photographer Daido Moriyama Japan | 2019 | 108 min | Documentary | Directed by IWAMA Gen Daido Moriyama, whose work was included in the Sackler exhibition Japan Modern, made a splash in the 1960s with his blurry, high-contrast, shoot-from-the-hip style and uncanny ability to find arresting compositions and subjects on Tokyo’s bustling streets. Think Robert Frank crossed with Diane Arbus with a touch of Andy Warhol. Still at it today, he’s as close to a bad-boy artist as an octogenarian can be. This documentary follows him as he continues to find new ways of seeing the visual assault of Tokyo’s streets and reminisces about his life and work.
Get to Know Hirobumi Watanabe:
Despite festival awards and praise from critics, independent filmmaker Hirobumi Watanabe has managed to remain below the radar. A partial retrospective of his work was the surprise hit of the streaming Udine Far East Film Festival this year. F|S and JICC are proud to present three of his most charming films, followed by a live Q&A with Watanabe and film critic Mark Schilling, who programmed the Udine retrospective.
I'm Really Good | 私は元気 Japan | 2020 | 62 min | B&W | Directed by WATANABE Hirobumi
Clearly disregarding the old show business maxim not to work with children or animals because they will always upstage other cast members, Hirobumi Watanabe’s latest film is a delightful gem that follows a day in the life of adorable fourth grader Riko, her older brother Keita, and her best friend Nanaka (not to mention her scene-stealing pet cat). Like his other films, it is full of subtle visual and structural jokes.
Party 'Round the Globe | 地球はお祭り騒ぎ Japan | 2018 | 117 min | B&W | Directed by WATANABE Hirobumi
Like Hirobumi Watanabe’s other films, the plot of Party ‘Round the Globe is remarkably simple: two Beatlemaniacs drive to Tokyo to see a Paul McCartney concert. The guys in question are Honda (Gaku Imamura), a man so taciturn that he doesn’t utter a word during the entire film--partly because his companion and coworker Hirayama (Watanabe himself) never shuts up.
Life Finds a Way | 普通は走り出す Japan | 2018 | 127 min | B&W | Directed by WATANABE Hirobumi
In this semi-autobiographical comedy filled with self-deprecating humor, filmmaker Hirobumi Watanabe plays, well, filmmaker Hirobumi Watanabe, who bumbles around his hometown of Otawara struggling to come up with ideas (and money) for his next project.
These events are free and open to the online attendees in the US, however registration on Eventive is required in order to receive streaming access to the virtual screenings.
Screening periods vary by film. Please check the official listings here for the latest information.
The Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan reserves the right to use any photograph/video taken at any event sponsored by JICC, without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. JICC may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by JICC including but not limited to: brochures, invitations, newspapers, magazines, television, social media, websites, etc. To ensure the privacy of individuals and children, images will not be identified using full names or personal identifying information without written approval from the photographed subject, parent or legal guardian. A person attending a JICC event who does not wish to have their image recorded for distribution should make their wishes known to the photographer/videographer, and/or the event organizers.