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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2019 comes to an end

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2019: People Still Call It Love: Passion, Affection and Destruction in Japanese Cinema

2 February – 28 March 2019

"Once more, we see the season snowballing in terms of size and reach, with a total of 18 films this year – two more than 2018 – based around such universal themes as passion, desire, affection, romantic love, young love, maternal love, paternal love, mad love, bad love, and all permutations thereof.Jasper Sharp (All the Anime)

Following 137 screenings nationwide over a two month period, the largest edition of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme to date draws to a close. Featuring a lineup of 18 works, ranging from blockbuster action, retrospective classics, anime, to boundary-pushing documentaries, the programme toured 19 cities around the country, including new partner venues in Halifax (Square Chapel), and Newcastle (Tyneside).

In this 16th edition of the programme, we were proud to bring more attention and prominence to the influence of women on Japanese cinema by including several films which have been directed by female filmmakers or adapted from literature written by female writers.

This year we also welcomed three very special guests, Keisuke Yoshida (director of Thicker Than Water), Hikaru Toda (director of Of Love & Law) and Yukiko Mishima (director of Dear Etranger), all of whom took part in post-screening discussions of their films in London and around the UK.

Below are some of this year’s highlights:

Director Keisuke Yoshida visited the UK to attend screenings of his film Thicker Than Water, one of two titles directed by him in 2018, being closely followed by his latest work, Come On Irene. Having been very well received at international festivals, including a sell-out screening at New York’s JAPAN CUTS festival, Thicker Than Water impressed our UK audience with shows in seven cities. Appearing at two London screenings of the film at ICA (which marked the UK premiere), Yoshida then travelled to Derby (QUAD), Chester (Storyhouse), Bristol (Watershed), and Sheffield (Showroom).

Another highly anticipated appearance as part of the season was that of rising female filmmaker Hikari Toda at the screenings of her documentary Of Love & Law at London (Curzon Soho), Sheffield (Showroom), and Manchester (HOME). Already popular within the film festival circuit having screened to large audience at BFI’s Flare and London Film Festivals, Toda’s sensitive exposition of LGBTQ issues and the lives of minorities in Japan was warmly received by the programme’s audience, ahead of the film’s theatrical release in the UK.

And then in late March, we were joined by Yukiko Mishima, director of poignant family drama Dear Etranger. Following the film’s widely popular screening at 11 cinemas nationwide, director Mishima joined us for an exclusive ‘Filmmaker Talk’ at The Soho Hotel in London where she discussed her work and career with Dr Irene González-López.

In addition to this standalone talk, Yukiko Mishima embarked on a mini-tour of the UK, attending special Q&A screenings in Edinburgh (Filmhouse), Nottingham (Broadway), and Exeter (Phoenix).

Among the titles, we were proud to bring to the audiences a brand new release, Born Bone Born, which premiered in the UK simultaneously with its Japan-wide roadshow. Based on an acclaimed short of the same title, this is the second feature from director Teruya Toshiyuki (a.k.a. Gori) which won him the Audience Award at JAPANCUTS. The film’s light-hearted and humanistic approach to family grief and regional traditions had universal appeal in the UK, while its London screening was supplemented by a delightful live performance of authentic Okinawan music.

ICA’s fastest selling screening of the season was that of viral sensation Dad’s Lunch Box, which was made all the better with a very special giveaway of cute Japanese lunchboxes (provided by Japan Centre) to one lucky winner of each screening across the country. Furthermore, all screenings of Born Bone Born were accompanied by a giveaway of limited Okinawa-themed goody bags, courtesy of the Okinawa Film Office.

The programme was also well received among critics and independent reviewers. Here's a few snippets of some reviews:

"It's a unique and sometimes once-only opportunity to see a selection of rare films that otherwise have a very limited distribution in the west." Noel Megahey (The Digital Fix)

"We always love to hear from the working acts behind the screens and this year’s tour is supported by some great-looking Q&As. Four films in the programme are directed by women, two of whom join the UK tourRadiant Circus

Since 2004, the Japan Foundation has organised a touring Japanese film programme in close partnership with distinguished film venues across the UK. Each year, a handpicked selection of films are carefully chosen to highlight trends in Japanese cinema and showcase the versatility and uniqueness displayed by Japanese filmmakers. … [A] beautifully curated programme …” Rob Aldam (Backseat Mafia)


And here are some lovely comments from our audiences!

“Keep up the good work! This is an excellent festival and I intend to keep coming back every year. I particularly enjoy seeing rarely (or never) shown classics - please do keep including them!”

The Japan Foundation does a remarkable job at promoting Japanese cinema.

“It is an excellent opportunity for a non-Japanese to get an idea of both Japan now and it's past - to understand the country better. For a Japanese person, more chance to see good Japanese films.”


Thank you to everyone who attended the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme this February and March! We look forward to seeing you again at the 17th edition in 2020!

Thank you also to our filmmaker guests, partner venues, our major supporters (Japan Airlines, Yakult and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation), sponsors in kind (Japan Centre and the Okinawa Film Office) and our cultural partners (the Japan Society and Modern Culture) who helped make this season a success!