What to Watch

Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2022: 5 Must-See Films

As the 19th edition of the programme returns to the UK, we highlight our picks for this year's most essential features...

This week marks the start of this year's exciting edition of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme, which runs throughout the UK and celebrates some of the best and brightest films hailing from Japan. Now in its 19th edition, the festival runs from 4 February to 31 March and gathers together movies both contemporary and classic. Presented under the banner of “What Lies Beneath,” these films, in one way or another, each attempt to probe the darkest depths of the human mind.

In anticipation of the festival's opening, we've combed through this year's offerings and selected five must-see titles from the eclectic line-up. It's not an exhaustive list, by any means, and there are plenty more films worth checking out than the ones highlighted here (for a full list of titles and showtimes, visit our dedicated festival page). In partnership with the festival, we're also offering a discount on tickets – but hurry, there are only a limited number available!

 

Iwane: Sword of Serenity

Based on a series of popular period novels in Japan, this evocative, unpredictable action-adventure from filmmaker Katsuhide Motoki stars Tori Matzusaka as a samurai whose career is derailed after he's caught up in a tragic incident involving a couple of old friends. Disgraced, he's forced to leave his fiancé and become a ronin – a wandering samurai without a master. After finding work as a bodyguard, though, he finds himself drawn into a dark and violent world of murder and conspiracy (get screening info).

 

The House of the Lost on the Cape

Japanese animator Shinya Kawatsura helms this colourful feature, adapted from Sachiko Kashiwaba’s best-selling novel of the same name, about two young girls who are taken in by a mysterious old woman after being separated from their families. But her house, a Japanese folkhome – or “mayoiga” – is not quite what it seems. A life-affirming animation about finding a place to call home, made in honour of those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake ten years ago (get screening info).

 

Ora, Ora Be Goin' Alone

This wholesome ode to staying young well into your later years hones in on a widow whose plans for retirement are ambushed when her husband unexpectedly dies. Unsure of what to do next, she's spurred to keep going by the arrival of several mysterious figures, often through the power of song and dance. Directed by Shuichi Okita and starring Yuko Tanaka, it's a thought-provoking but utterly entertaining mediation on what it means to make every day count (get screening info).

Eternally Younger Than Those Idiots

The adaptation of the novel by Kikuko Tsumura earns points for its strange title alone! Directed by Ryohei Yoshino, it's a coming-of-ager that follows an anxious young woman – played by Yui Sakuma – who begins to come out of her shell after she forges an unlikely connection with another, enigmatic young woman, played by the single-named actor Nao. But just as things seem to be getting better, a revelation from the past upends the present (get screening info).

 

The Voice of Sin

Inspired by true events, this murky crime-thriller might well be billed as Japan's answer to Spotlight. Directed by Nobuhiro Doi, it's a tale of obsession that stretches back thirty years, as a newspaper reporter (played by prolific Japanese actor Shun Oguri) delves into a cold case involving the blackmail of several confectionary companies by a criminal syndicate, and whose investigation leads him to a tailor whose own past might hold all the answers. A gripping mystery, earning several Japanese Academy Prize nominations, including Picture of the Year and Screenplay of the Year (get screening info).

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2022 runs from 4 February to 31 March. For more information, visit the official site.

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