22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival Brings Japanese Cinema to Frankfurt, May 24–29
After two online editions, the 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival, which will be held May 24 to 29, 2022, will bring the most exciting current Japanese films and culture programs to the city again. Around 100 short and feature-length films showcase the complete range of Japanese cinema – from newcomers to established directors, from anime to documentaries. The film program includes one world premiere, 24 international, eleven European and 30 German premieres. This year’s thematic focus “Stories Of Youth – Coming Of Age In Japan”, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, deals with the lives and challenges of young people in Japan.
The supporting program, which will include more than 60 workshops, concerts, lectures and performances, is more extensive than ever, promising a fascinating festival week outside the cinema as well. For snacks in between, there will be a wide range of Japanese foods and drinks available on the festival grounds.
The events take place at twelve locations in Frankfurt am Main. The festival centers are at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and NAXOS. Further locations are the Mal Seh’n Kino, the Cinema at the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and the International Theater Frankfurt. For the first time, screenings and events will also take place at Eldorado Arthouse Kino, Saalbau Bornheim, Museum Angewandte Kunst, Ruby Louise Hotel and Lindley Lindenberg.
The complete program and tickets will be available starting May 7, 2022 on the festival homepage NipponConnection.com. For the safety of the guests, the audience, and the staff, wearing a mask (medical or FFP2 mask) is mandatory in all indoor areas.
As a special addition, a part of the film program will be available under the title Nippon Connection On Demand from May 30 to June 6, 2022 on the festival’s platform Watch.NipponConnection. The streaming line-up will be revealed on May 29, 2022.
Nippon Cinema: New works from Japan’s most significant filmmakers
Recent works by Japan’s most significant filmmakers are presented in the Nippon Cinema section. In They Say Nothing Stays the Same, actor and first-time director Joe Odagiri stages a melancholic tale about stagnancy and change in late 19th-century Japan. Shinichiro Uedareturns with his latest film Popran, a fast-paced comedy about a man in search of his private parts. Cult director Takashi Miike presents the grand finale of his “Mole Song” trilogy. The Mole Song: Final starts off a non-stop firework of visual gags, wild action, musical interventions and memorable madness.
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy by Ryusuke Hamaguchi is a charming triptych about women who take their fate into their own hands, while Yuichiro Sakashita’s The Sunday Runoff is a turbulent political comedy in which a replacement candidate develops her own political strategy. Sho Miyake’s Small, Slow but Steady is a sensitive character study about a young, hard-of-hearing female prizefighter which was well-received at this year’s Berlinale. The winner of the Nippon Cinema Award, sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler, will be chosen by the audience and will receive a cash prize of 2,000 Euros.
Nippon Animation: Musicals, fantastic visual worlds and outstanding animation art
The Nippon Animation section has many visually-stunning stories to offer. The anime musical Belle is one of this year’s special highlights. With his adaptation of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast into a virtual world, Mamoru Hosoda proves once again he is one of the most important contemporary anime directors.
The sci-fi high school musical comedy Sing a Bit of Harmony by Yasuhiro Yoshiura is a colorful take on artificial intelligence. Shion, an AI-powered robot, joins a high school as a new student and transforms the life of the class underdog, Satomi. Masaaki Yuasa, who gained fame through his eccentric magnum opus Mind Game and the Netflix show Devilman Crybaby, returns to the cinema with Inu-Oh. This story about two outsiders who become famous with music and dance in feudal Japan delights with virtuosic animations and an outstanding soundtrack. Dozens of Norths is the first feature-length film by Oscar-nominated artist Koji Yamamura. Through expressionistic pictures, he copes with the trauma of the triple disaster that shook Japan in March 2011.
Nippon Visions: New discoveries, summer feelings and queer cinema
The Nippon Visions section is dedicated to up-and-coming directors and independent films. Young female director Rin Shuto proves to be one of the most intriguing new talents with Unlock Your Heart, a high school drama about avoiding gender clichés. A dreamy melancholic summer atmosphere pervades Song of a Dying Summer, the feature-length debut of Kohei Sengen about four friends embarking on their own journeys. In the deep action film Pure Japanese by Daishi Matsunaga, stuntman Tateishi tries to help rebellious Ayumi to save her grandfather’s land from yakuza gangsters.
Many queer films will once again be featured in this year’s festival program: Actor Ren Sudo delivers his directing debut with Backlight, a bittersweet summer film set in 1970s’ Southern Japan. Sudo, who also stars in the leading role, presents himself as a promising new voice of queer independent cinema. In Angry Son by Kasho Iizuka, teenager Jungo – half Filipino, half Japanese, and gay – is searching for his father, whom he never got to know. Let Me Hear It Barefoot by Riho Kudo is a sensitive LGBTQ drama and a tribute to Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together: Two young men develop an affection for each other while staging a trip around the world with audio recordings.
An international jury honors the best film with the Nippon Visions Jury Award. The winner receives a free subtitling, sponsored by the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) in Tokyo. The audience will choose the winner of the Nippon Visions Audience Award, sponsored by Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachzentrum in Frankfurt am Main and endowed with 1,000 Euros.
Nippon Docs: Employees under pressure, Kurds in Tokyo and artistic approaches
Fumiari Hyuga’s Tokyo Kurds tells the story of Ozan and Ramazan, two of about 2,000 Kurds living in Japan, suffering from the country’s rigid immigration laws. Salaryman, the debut documentary of Costa Rican artist and photographer Allegra Pacheco, dives into the peculiarities of Japan’s white-collar working world. The world premiere Origami accompanies painter Atsushi Suwa as he makes a portrait of a deceased young man. Filmmaker Tadasuke Kotani depicts the artistic approach and creates a meaningful film about the power of memories. From all nominated films, the audience will choose the winner of the third Nippon Docs Award, endowed with 1,000 Euros.
Nippon Retro: Stories Of Youth
For the first time, the focus of the Nippon Retro section matches the thematic focus of the festival. In cooperation with the Japan Foundation Tokyo, the retrospective Stories Of Youth presents eight works from five decades in the Cinema at the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, including A Town Of Love And Hope, the debut of nouvelle vague legend Nagisa Oshima, as well as Mikio Naruse’s overlooked drama The Approach Of Autumn.
Muddy River by Kohei Oguri offers almost neorealist impressions of a childhood in post-war Japan, while Pastoral Hide and Seek by avant-garde poet Shuji Terayama stages a surrealistic kaleidoscope of memories.
Nippon Honor Award
For the sixth time, the festival will present the Nippon Honor Award. The award is a tribute to outstanding personalities for their special contributions to Japanese cinema. This year’s awardee is renowned actor Masatoshi Nagase. Several of his films can be seen at the festival as German premieres. Nagase will participate in Q&As after the screenings and look back at his career in an extensive talk session. The award ceremony will take place at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm on May 29, 2022 at 7:45 p.m. in Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.
Nippon Culture: Discover Japan!
This year, the supporting program Nippon Culture offers more than 60 exciting events. One highlight of the festival will be the Shadow Play Theatre Kakashiza’s performance on the grand stage of the Saalbau Bornheim, telling stories full of humor and fantasy. The ensemble from Yokohama, the partner city of Frankfurt am Main, was established in 1952 and can look back on numerous international stage and TV performances. Pianist Shinnosuke Inugai and musical singer Mitsuru Kijo will present anime songs and music from the Final Fantasy video games for Nippon Live On Stage.
Exceptional talent Karin Nakagawa and her 25-string koto will fuse traditional and contemporary sounds into a powerful music experience. Furthermore, Rakugo artist Katsura Sunshine, who is celebrated in Japan and Off-Broadway in New York, will give a taste of his astute and sharp storytelling.
After two online editions, the infamous Nippon Heimkino will return to the stage of the Mousonturm. Filmmaker Jörg Buttgereit and film scholar Marcus Stiglegger take the reissue of Buttgereit’s standard work “Japan – Die Monsterinsel” as an inspiration to browse through the history of Japanese monster films.
Besides various lectures on Japanese art and culture, the panel discussion “Japanese Film Industry – Women Raising Their Voice” will shed light on the working conditions of women in the film industry, a topic that has also been brought up in the context of the #MeToo movement.
A large culinary program offers tasty soul food and exquisite Japanese delicacies. Visitors can join three cooking classes, on Japanese sweets, miso paste and bento, or learn about sake, Japanese liquor and green tea in tasting workshops.
In the festival centers Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and NAXOS, Nippon Food & More offers numerous market stalls with delicious Japanese food, as well as a variety of films, accessoires and much more. The entrance to the festival grounds is free.
On the virtual market place Nippon Online Market, fans of all things Japanese can find more interesting offers starting from mid-May 2022: NipponConnection.com/de/Market
Nippon Kids offers an exciting program for children and teenagers. Hayao Miyazaki’s classical anime My Neighbor Totoro is great fun for the whole family. In a calligraphy workshop, children can draw their very first Japanese words. Monsters and demons come to life in a manga course where young artists can try themselves with pens and paper. An online lecture gives insights into the lives of children and teenagers in Japan.
Complete program and tickets (from May 7, 2022) at the festival website.