Preview – Nippon Connection 2018, May 29-June 3, Franfurt am Main

From May 29 to June 3, 2018, the eighteenth 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. About 60 filmmakers and artists from Japan are present to introduce their works to the local audience. Apart from the films, a diverse supporting program gives visitors the chance to explore the multi-faceted culture of Japan. The main venues are at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and at Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle.

Cinema Highlights

At the Nippon Connection Festival, numerous films can be seen for the first time on German screens. In Hanagatami, veteran director Nobuhiko Obayashi draws a multi-layered and stylistically extraordinary panorama about a group of adolescents in 1940’s Japan. In Hirokazu Koreeda’s crime drama The Third Murder, 2017 Nippon Honor Awardee Koji Yakusho shines in his role as a murder suspect who is sentenced to death.The small-town comedy Enokida Trading Post by Ken Iizuka convinces with both laconic humour and charming local color. Leading actor Kiyohiko Shibukawa will be a guest at the film’s world premiere in Frankfurt. In Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura, director Takashi Yamazaki takes the audience to a fantastic world full of romance and adventure.

Further highlights include Isao Yukisada’s dark coming-of-age-drama River’s Edge, which won a FIPRESCI-Award at this year’s Berlinale. Favorite of the public Takeshi Kitano delivers Outrage Coda, the long-awaited third part of his Yakuza saga. In Bamy, up-and-coming director Jun Tanaka unfolds a visually impressive and atmospheric horror story.

Animated Films

Fans of the exceptional animated film will be curious for Masaaki Yuasa’s most recent films: Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk On Girl take up mysterious and fairytale-like stories, expressing them in ecstatic images. Both films are shown at the festival as German premieres.

The Japanese-French co-production Mutafukaz by Shojiro Nishimi and Guillaume Renard also avoids current anime clichés and provides an action-loaded scenario with undertones of social criticism.

Historical Rarities

The Japanese silent film Kurama Tengo by Teppei Yamaguchi will be shown at the Nippon Connection Festival not only with a live-performed score, but also with narrative accompaniment by benshi (film narrator) Ichiro Kataoka. A further rarity of cinema is the screening of the erotic Pink Film Blue Film Woman by Kan Mukai in a newly restaurated version by Rapid Eye Movies.

New Program Section NIPPON DOCS

A special focus of the film program is directed at the new program section NIPPON DOCS, which is supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain. In their productions, dedicated documentary filmmakers present their critical perspectives on social and political developments in Japan. In her award-winning film Of Love & Law, Hikaru Toda examines the situation of people who are diverging from socially accepted standard norms because of their sexual orientation or their family history. For her film Trace of Breath, Haruka Komori has visited the owner of a market garden in a small town in the northeast of Japan which was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Out of these visits emerged a heartwarming portrait of a man who never gave up hope. Kazuhiro Soda traveled to the province for his film project as well: in Inland Sea, the director observes the life of a small Japanese harbor town primarily inhabited by the elderly because of the migration of the younger generation to metropolitan regions.

Diverse Supporting Program

Apart from the films, the festival offers a wide variety of workshops, concerts, performances, and exhibitions, inviting the audience to get to know more about Japanese culture. Interested visitors can try out making their own ornate silhouettes in a papercut workshop with artist Michiyo Arakawa from Okinawa, or they can learn what unknown possibilities for folding and knotting a square cloth has to offer in the furoshiki workshop. Photographer Matthieu Zellweger presents his photo project “The Art of Sake Brewing” at the showroom of Ausstellungsraum Eulengasse. Elaborate electro-pop music comes from the Japanese-Swiss combo Tim and Puma-Mimi. At Nippon Heimkino, cult director and writer Jörg Buttgereit presents a selected gem of Japanese genre film, going well with chips and beer. The Nippon Filmfrühstück and the Nippon Filmdinner also offer a chance to combine cinema and culinary enjoyment. Whoever craves for more Japanese specialties or handicraft should try the catering and merchandising stalls.

Culture for Kids

The events of the NIPPON KIDS program provide a lot of excitement for the youngest visitors of the Nippon Connection festival.

The magical animation film Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Hiromasa Yonebayashi will be shown as a children’s film. At a koinobori workshop, children can create big Japanese carps from cloth and many different colors. The kamishibai performance presents a special kind of paper theater.

The Festival

The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized on a voluntary basis by the 70 members of the non-profit Nippon Connection registered association. The festival is under the patronage of Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main, and the Consul General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main (to be confirmed). Festival centers are located at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle. Additional events take place at Mal Seh’n Kino, the German Film Museum, and Ausstellungsraum Eulengasse.

The complete program as well as tickets will be available from May 5, 2018 via the festival website.

Overnight stays during the festival are bookable at several hotel partners in Frankfurt offering special conditions.