The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme Returns with Intricate Representations of a ‘Dark Mind’ in Japanese Cinema, February 4 – March 31

First Love

After temporarily moving online last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme returns to the big screen, working together with partner cinemas to bring audiences an exciting line-up of Japanese films while keeping in line with public safety requirements from February 4 – March 31, 2022.

What constitutes an unfathomable ‘dark mind’ lurking beneath the surface in the 21st century? Would it stagnate one’s life or become a driving force? Would the definition of it now be more diverse when the society we are living in is more complicated than before? Does such a psychological state add to an interesting cinematic story?

From crime films to charming dramas, presenting an assortment of stories about people from different walks of life, this programme will showcase the cinematic voices and skills of both experienced and emerging filmmakers and aims to cater to the varied tastes of UK audiences. And most of the films have never been screened in the UK before!

The Voice of Sin

Human psychology is very complicated. Our minds have many layers of emotions and feelings which fluctuate and transform from good to bad depending on the circumstances we are in. In the world of Christianity, an ‘evil mind’ has been traditionally defined by the seven deadly sins and, from wrath to envy and pride, these emotions and human behaviours have been categorized as something to be rejected.

Yet, such emotion is part of our nature and, whether we are aware of it or not, it is a quality which all humans possess to varying degrees. Ironically, these dark emotions make life more interesting and provide a fascinating source of creativity as they often add a delicious flavour to works of entertainment. This is one of the reasons why thrillers have been ever-popular in literature.

In the world of cinema, crime films often derived from such darkness are an established genre and, historically, in Japan many ‘crime and punishment’ films, like Vengeance is Mine by Shohei Imamura, have been favoured by film makers and released to much success. Even when the films don’t touch upon unlawful situations, the darkness which smoulders in our minds is enough inspiration to be made into films which are appreciated as relatable by audiences. So, what constitutes an unfathomable ‘dark mind’ lurking beneath the surface in the 21st century? Would it stagnate one’s life or become a driving force? Would the definition of it now be more diverse when the society we are living in is more complicated than before? What kind of ‘dark mind’ leads to an interesting cinematic story?

Spaghetti Code Love

Keeping the theme in mind and posing these questions, the 19th Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme will select some of the very best films released in Japan: Spaghetti Code Love is a stylish film which faithfully explores the lives of contemporary young people in Tokyo who juggle a variety of feelings to survive. I Shall Live by Myself is a rare film focusing on an aged woman living alone. This charming work is not only concerned with the strength of her personality but also subtly depicts the remorse and loneliness in her long life. Ever the socially conscious director, Takahisa Zeze explores the issues and problems that three contemporary mothers face in his recent work, Tomorrow’s Dinner Table. There will also be a title focusing on a spectacular con based in Hong Kong, as well as a crime film inspired by a real incident in Japan.

From recently released contemporary works, to anime and rare classics, this programme aims to demonstrate how films, seemingly different in tone and style, have the same facet running through them and that all ultimately deal in human darkness. With an assortment of stories about people from different walks of life, this programme will showcase the cinematic voices and skills of both experienced and emerging filmmakers and aims to cater to the varied tastes of the UK audiences.

More details at the Japan Foundation website.

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is produced and organised by the Japan Foundation, London.

With Major Support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult, with Sponsorship in Kind from SUQQU and Athetia, and in Cultural Partnership with the Japan Society.