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Preview – Nippon Connection 2017

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From May 23 to 28, 2017, the seventeenth edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival will take place in Frankfurt am Main. With more than 100 short and feature length films, it is the biggest festival for Japanese film worldwide, offering a varied and exciting insight into Japanese cinema. Many directors and actors are present to introduce their works to the local audience for the first time. Apart from the films, a diverse supporting program gives visitors the chance to delve into the multi-faceted culture of Japan. The main venues are at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and at Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle.

Focus on documentary films

At this year’s festival a special attention will be directed at documentary films. Among others, Atsushi Funahashi will present his film Raise your Arms and Twist, in which he observes the everyday life of Japanese pop idol singers of the group NMB48. The director skillfully combines social and media critique without degrading the stars or their fans. In her film 95 and 6 to Go young American filmmaker Kimi Takesue explores the history of her Japanese ancestors who emigrated to Hawaii, taking the conversations with her grandfather as a starting point. Steven Okazaki’s Mifune: The Last Samurai portrays the life and work of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, who has written film history through his cooperation with Akira Kurosawa.

Numerous German premieres

Once more, many films can be seen for the first time on German screens. Nippon Honor awardee Kiyoshi Kurosawa mixes love drama and subtle horror in his latest work, Daguerrotype. It is the first film the renowned director shot outside of Japan. A tough and uncompromising approach is chosen by 35-year-old director Tetsuya Mariko in his drama Destruction Babies, awarded at last year’s Locarno Film Festival. The film tells the story of Taira, a youth without prospects, and his descent into a spiral of violence.

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Filled with tender humor, Ryota Nakano’s award-winning drama Her Love Boils Bathwater unfolds the story of Futaba, who is terminally ill and tries to reunite her scattered family during her last days. In the drama The Long Excuse by Miwa Nishikawa, a lonely writer must get a grip back on his life after a heavy blow of fate. In his family drama Harmonium, director Koji Fukada shows how the appearance of an old acquaintance can turn an ordinary family life upside down. Harmonium received the Jury Prize in the section “Un certain regard” at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

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As a highlight of the Nippon Animation section, Nippon Connection presents the German premiere of Naoko Yamada’s anime A Silent Voice in cooperation with Kazé. Based on the manga of the same title by Yoshitoki Oima, the film centers around the character of Shoya Ishida, who had bullied his deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya in school. A couple of years later, Shoya, stricken by remorse, starts looking for Shoko to apologize for his behavior.

Reboot of Nikkatsu Roman Porno films

In the 1970s and 1980s the so-called Roman Porno films from the Japanese film studio Nikkatsu served as a field of experimentation and a stepping stone for young directors. For the 45th anniversary of that genre, the Nippon Connection Film Festival shows two installments of the “Roman Porno Reboot Project” as German premieres. Kazuya Shiraishi’s Dawn of the Felines deals with three young women and their work as prostitutes in Tokyo. Akihiko Shiota’s Wet Woman in the Wind depicts the relationship between theater author Kosuke, who lives as a recluse in the woods, and the nymphomaniac waitress Shiori.

Extensive cultural program

Apart from the films, the festival offers a wide variety of workshops, lectures, and exhibitions, inviting the audience to get to know more about Japanese culture. Interested visitors can participate in the manufacturing of kyogen masks in a wood carving workshop, or they can learn about vital points of the human body and their application in the martial arts in the kyusho jitsu workshop. In cooperation with Weltlesebühne e.V., Ursula Gräfe, known as a translator of the works of Japanese star author Haruki Murakami, will give insight into various aspects of her work.

Again, there are also many exciting events for the youngest visitors in the Nippon Kids section. The wonderful puppet animation film Chieri and Cherry by Makoto Nakamura will be shown as a children’s film with German live dubbing. Kids can have a go at traditional Japanese drums in the taiko workshop or they can try out preparing tasty Japanese sweets in the panda dango cooking class. Taruto Fuyama, professor at Tokyo University of the Arts in Yokohama, will show in his workshop how to create handmade painted animation films.

The complete program as well as tickets will be available from April 29, 2017 at the festival website.

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