Japan Film Festival 2013, LA


The 9th Annual Japan Film Festival returns to the Southland, with venues and events In Los Angeles, Torrance  El Segundo and Santa Ana. The Japan Film Festival – Los Angeles originally started out in 2003 as the Chanoma Film Festival, and has been a vanguard event dedicated to strengthening the general understanding of Japanese culture by providing American and Japanese audiences in Los Angeles cutting‐edge, original films depicting authentic representations of contemporary Japan.

This festival was originally based on the theme of “Chanoma” – a family gathering place in the living room, and showcased heart warming films that portray the everyday life of a Japanese family. But through time the festival has evolved to include a wider variety of genres for audiences to enjoy, all of which portray a different aspect of Japanese culture. To reflect these changes and highlight the festival’s evolution, the name of the festival has been changed to “Japan Film Festival – Los Angeles “since 2008.

The 2013 Japan Film Festival will provide a significant opportunity for American audiences to come and see what Japan is all about and for Japanese people themselves to look at their own culture from different perspectives and reflect upon what it means to be Japanese. Cinema is the bridge that connects us all! We are convinced that through this festival, we can help strengthen the understanding of contemporary Japanese culture within American shores as well as encourage communication and the exchange of ideas between Japan and the U.S.

“We hope to continue this event, not only for 2013, but for the coming years as well. We hope to uncover new talent in the Japanese film industry through this festival, develop and grow together, and promote the cultural exchange between the US and Japan. With these hopes in mind, we will be holding the Japan Film Festival – Los Angeles 2013.” Yuma Asakura / Japan Film Festival 2013 President

Special Screenings:
“Casting Blossoms to the Sky” (C) 2011「長岡映画」製作委員会 PSC
If all the bombs in the world were to change into fireworks, it would bring peace to this world
Drama/LA Premiere/160 mins
Endo Reiko, a reporter for the local paper in Amakusa, is a child of the Nagasaki Atomic Bombing. She goes to visit her former lover, Katayama Kenichi, a victim of the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake living in Nagaoka, aware of its association to the Nagaoka Fireworks. The film is Reiko’s travelogue as she is captivated by the wonderland of surprises and delights in Nagaoka. All of the characters are actual people from history (ie: Nagaoka air raid guide Lilico whose deceased infant is reincarnated as 18-year-old Hana) Historical elements are fictionalized with a semi-documentary touch. On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck by the Great Tohoku Earthquake. At this moment in time, Japanese cannot help but to ponder how they can exist now and in the future, as well as how have people existed up until now. This film also confronts these themes. I hope to reconsider Japan’s post-war history by gazing up at the Nagaoka Fireworks.

(C) “Nagaoka Film” Production Partners, PSC
Cast: Yasuko Matsuyuki, Masahiro Takashima, Minami Inomata
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Producer: Kyoko Obayashi
Japanese with English subtitle.

“Casting Blossoms to the Sky” & Director Nobuhiko Obayashi Talk Show
May 12th    2:30pm-6:30 pm at Miyako Hybrid Hotel (Torrance)
$20 (Only Torrance)
“Casting Blossoms to the Sky” Screening at Irvine and San Diego
Sunday May 19  2:00 pm at YAMAHA Music Center (Irvine)
Sunday May 26 2:45pm at Pi:K (San Diego)
$10 (No Talk Show Irvine and San Diego)

Happy! People in the Media (C) 丹南ケーブルTV/Rei23
Sunday May 19, Irvine 5:00 pm Ticket $10
Road Movie From Tannan!
Drama/US Premiere/85 mins
The film is set in the cable television station located in the city of Echizen, Fukui Prefecture. Newscaster Minoda Saburo (Hiroyuki Watanabe) moved there from Tokyo. He was hired to develop cable TV in Japan, following the “happy” Regional creed of cable TV. Minoda was once called a “high ratings” man.  Veteran newscaster Kaoru Sakurai (Akiko Takeuchi)  is opposed to new direction. However, encountering the warmth of Kaoru while working on building programs for the region, Minoda reconsiders their career roles and the direction of cable TV.  The “Road Movie” presents historic and natural sites and the emotional warmth of Tannan, blending local excitement and laughs.

Japanese with English subtitle
Cast: Hiroyuki Watanabe, Akiko Takeuchi
Director: Toru Ichikawa
Producer: Tokio Yoshida
Miss Mau Nishio will not be attending our Irvine Screening due to her busy schedule. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Heaven’s Story  (C) 2010 Heaven’s Project
Saturday May 18  YAMAHA Music Center (Irvine) 5:00– 9:50 pm  $10.00 USD
We touch the hatred in this world together. We asked for love and each other.
Drama/LA Premiere/278 mins
Heaven’s Story (C) 2010 Heaven’s Project
Heaven’s Story is told from the multiple perspectives of murderers, those who surround them and their murder victims. Their seemingly random encounters take the victims and perpetrators through a myriad of emotions ranging from anger, remorse, and vengeance to redemption and forgiveness. The complexity of these emotions lays bare the human condition, confronting the audience with the question; Can everything be polarized into good or evil? Throughout its 9 episodes, the movie explores various philosophical issues. What is the meaning of life, death, relationships, cause, effect, family, heaven, cosmos…and hope? At a mind boggling running time of 4 hours and 38 minutes, “Heaven’s Story” dares its audience to go where no conventional feature film has gone before.

Cast: Moeki Tsuruoka, Tomoharu Hasegawa, Hako Yamazaki, Jun Murakami, Syugo Oshinari, Nahana
Director: Takahisa Zeze
Planning Producer: Hirotaka Asano
Producer: Daisuke Asakura, Kazunao Sakaguchi
Japanese with English subtitles

Wednesday May 15 Japan Foundation Auditorium 7:00 pm
Free Screenings Reservation
Little Wing  (C) 2013 リトルウィング製作委員会
I want to be strong. In order to protect the mother, I want to become more stronger.
Drama/US Premiere
In March, the season to graduate. Each of us must rise to the occasion and overcome our challenges Young Yamato and his mother have been evacuated from Fukushima to Tokyo after the earthquake. Misaki was not allowed to study Karate. Yamato loves Karate and live study it. Misaki was once like this.
The Dojo opens Misaki’s mind, nurtures freedom in Yamato and gives strength to face the crisis of survival.  A freedom that has been nurtured in Yamato, carried on the strong wings “of the heart”, can change people bit by bit to produce a small miracle.
Cast: Nahana, Ryunosuke Kawai, Syun Sugata
Director: Kenji Kurata
Producer: Hirotaka Asano
Planning producer: Seigo Inoue
Japanese with English subtitles

Sunday May 12 Miyako Hybrid Hotel( Torrance)  10:30 am  $10.00 USD
The House of Rising Sun (C)「朝日のあたる家」事務局
I want to protect a beautiful home. Here is our beautiful home, Japan.
The Hirata family live in the beautiful town of Kosai in Shizuoka Prefecture, surrounded by nature.
Father Hirata Shiro Namiki) is an agriculturist, . Mother (Tomoko Saito) is a housewife. Eldest daughter Akane (Izumi Hirasawa) is a college student. Sister (Wakana Hashimoto) is a junior high school student.

The Hirata’s are an average Japanese family. Eldest daughter Akane doesn’t like this town. There is no shopping center, movie theater or concert hall. She has been accepted in both the local University and one in a larger city. She dreams of moving to the big city, finding work, and living on her own.

Another earthquake causes an accident at a nuclear power plant. The family must evacuate. They live in a shelter, hoping to return to their home.  But the Hirata family cannot return for many months. Mr. Harata loses his job. Mrs. Hirata becomes neurotic, and the youngest sister falls ill. Finally they are allowed a one-hour return to their beloved home, caught up in the vortex of great sadness.
Cast: Tomoko Saito, Wakana Hashimoto, Issei Ishida, Taro Yamamoto
Director: Takafumi Ota
Japanese with Japanese subtitles
World Premiere Screening !!
Director Takafumi Ota will appear in person.

“I Will Blaze A New Trail” (C) Heart of Miracle
Documentary/US Premiere
Until the day when miracles become commonplace –
Toshiya Miyata learns he suffers from brainstem hemorrhage.
Cast: Toshiya Miyata, Katsuko Yamamoto, Katsuko Kamiya, Yasuyuki Shibata
Director: Yasuko Iwasaki
Producer: Tomiko Irie
Japanese with English subtitles
Sunday May 12 Miyako Hybrid Hotel (Torrance)  1:00 pm
Sunday May 26 Pi:k (San Diego)  1:00 pm

Finding Refuge in Ishinomaki C) 2012 STANCE COMPANY, IN & OUT
Documentary/US Premiere/124mins
People who have lost their homes and families has become a big family here. Human documents up closure shelter.
in the wake of the March-11 disaster in 2011, as many as 50,758 survivors took shelter in public refuges in Ishinomaki, the second largest city in Miyagi Prefecture. Minato Public Elementary School, near Old-Kitakami River, was turned into one of the refuges. Filmmaker FUJIKAWA Keizo went to the refuge in April a month after the disaster. He stayed there by himself with no film crew for 6 months, living with the survivors, chronicling their day-to-day lives as they struggle to move forward. He recorded the victims speak their minds, the words that would never reach the broadcast news. He captured the tribulation and frustration of the life at the refuge. He also recorded how the life at the refuge unexpectedly empowered the survivors, bringing together the people whose lives had never crossed prior to the disaster. And how those who had lost their houses and families became one big family at Ishinomaki Minato School Refuge.
Director: Fujikawa Keizo  
Producer: Kazunao Sakaguchi, Takahisa Zeze   
Japanese with English subtitles
May 26(Sun) Pi:K (San Diego) 5:45pm

HAFU – the mixed-race experience in Japan (C) Hafu Film
Japan is Changing
Premium Documentary/OC Premiere/87mins
Previous Festival participation: Hapa Japan Festival / Lost Angelese Asia
With an ever increasing movement of people between places in this transnational age, there is a mounting number of mixed-race people in Japan, some visible others not. “Hafu” is the unfolding journey of discovery into the intricacies of mixed-race Japanese and their multicultural experience in modern day Japan. The film follows the lives of five “hafus”, the Japanese term for people who are half-Japanese, as they explore what it means to be multiracial and multicultural in a nation that once proudly proclaimed itself as the mono-ethnic nation. For some of these hafus Japan is the only home they know, for some living in Japan is an entirely new experience, and others are caught somewhere between two different worlds.
Cast: David Yano Sophia Fukunishi Edward Sumoto
Director: Megumi Nishikura, Lara Takagi Perez
Film Editor: Aika Miyake
Japanese with English subtitles
JFFLA2013 Screening Schedule
Saturday May 11  Japan Foundation Auditorium (LA)
12:00 pm ”Straw Berry Fields” (Free Screening)
2:00 pm  JFFLA 2013 Directors’ Talk
director: Nobuhiko Obayashi & Takafumi Ota (Free Event)

4:00 pm  “Suika3 Yggdrasil” Submission Screening -Feature Film  (Free Screening)

5:00 pm ”Control”, ”RUIN”, “My Hero”, ”Three Days in Kamakura”, Dusk”, Submission Screening -Short Films (Free Screening)
Free Screenings require reservations on the website)

Sunday May 12  Miyako Hybrid Hotel (Torrance)
10:30 am World Premiere “The House of Rising Sun”*
Director Takafumi Ota in Person!

1:00 pm “I Will Blaze A New Trail”

2:30 pm “Casting Blossoms to the Sky”*
Director will appear in person

5:30 pm Director, Nobuhiko Obayashi Talk Show

Wednesday May 15 Japan Foundation Auditorium (LA)
12:00  Living in Japan”
12:40 pm ”Japanese American History Unknown”
1:30 pm ”TOKYO Ainu”
7:00 pm ”Little Wing”
(Free Screenings require reservations on the website

Friday May 17  Chanoma House (El Segundo)
6:00 pm God and Atomic bomb” (Free Screening and event)
7:00 pm  Peace Net~Nagasaki⇔LA.Symposium (Free Screening and event)

Saturday May 18  Yamaha Music Center (Irvine)
 3:0「書くことの重さ」*(No English Subtitle)* 稲

5:00 pm “Heaven’s Story” 1
7:30 pm “Heaven’s Story” 2
(5 minute break between 1 and 2)

Sunday May 19 Yamaha Music Center (Irvine)
12;15 pm  “Hafu -the mixed-race experience in Japan”
2:00 pm “Casting Blossoms to the Sky”
5:00 pm “Happy! People in the Media”

Sunday May 26  Pi:K (San Diego)
1;00 pm “I Will Blaze A New Trail”
 2:45 pm “Casting Blossoms to the Sky”
 5:45 pm  “Finding Refuge in Ishinomaki”
* Schedule may change so please check our website for the latest info.                                    
 Free screenings need reservations on our web site.
Japan Film Festival 2013 Los Angeles Schedule

May 11th (Sat.) The Japan Foundation Auditorium
5700 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 100 Los Angeles, CA 90036
Parking: Street parking

May 12th (Sun.) Miyako Hybrid Hotel
21381 S. Western Avenue Torrance, CA 90501

May 15th (Wed.) Japan Foundation Auditorium
5700 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 100 Los Angeles, CA 90036
Parking: Street parking

May 17th Chanoma House
305 Indiana Street, El Segundo, CA 90245
Parking: Street parking

May 18th (Sat.) & 19th (Sun) YAMAHA Music Center (Wood Bridge)
4620 Barranca Parkway Irvine, CA 92604
Parking: Free

May 26th (Sun.) Pi:k San Diego
4683 Mercury St. Suite A, San Diego, CA 92111
Parking : Free or Street



About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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