17-23 April 2020

Festivals & Events

HIFF Blog

October 27, 2019

HIFF39’s SPOTLIGHT ON JAPAN … Needs Another Spotlight

With a whopping 19 Japanese films at the Festival this year, Programming coordinator Lee Ngo offers a helpful guide to make up your mind to see what Japanese film fits your tastes with some unique genre groupings.

Mariko Tsutsui turns in an incredible performance in the mystery thriller A GIRL MISSING, the latest film from director Koji Fukada. 

We at the HIFF39 are very proud of our commitment to engaging with the Festival's very large fanbase for all things Japanese, consistently offering quality selections from the Land of the Rising Sun. This year’s Spotlight on Japan program features an astounding nineteen films (not including some placed in other categories), almost more than our selections from China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India and Southeast Asia ... combined. 

For those with only so much time to dedicate to this year’s HIFF, it’ll be difficult to choose among them to get the full experience. Our programming coordinator Lee Ngo offers a helpful guide to the Spotlight on Japan, rendering common themes among certain subgroups. For your consideration, here are five common themes explored:

Star-Crossed Love - So close, yet so far, the pains of romance are further complicated by, respectively, a tangled web of unrequited feelings, the strains of the performing life, the political divides of war, and … states of matter? These films are perfect for a date, or at the very least those who’d love a sharp tug on the heart strings. 

JUST ONLY LOVE 

FAREWELL SONG 

THE PRISONER OF SAKURA

RIDE YOUR WAVE

Into the Darkness - Those looking for a little taste of suspense (or a deep plunge into horror in the case of one film) will find no shortage in our lineup. Each film incorporates a supple layer of mystery into the story yet two apparent subthemes: (a) serial killers with unclear motives, (b) the odd disappearance (or ... re-appearance) of young women. Intriguing...

MASQUERADE HOTEL

THE WITNESS

A GIRL MISSING 

THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME

SIGNAL 100

Boys 2 Men - For some reason, we have three films potraying a man or a group of men who have some growing up to do, whether it’s a quest for a war-ending truth, a gangster seeking redemption, or a trio of old friends each with an axe to grind. Whether you’re looking to laugh at their antics, enthrall in some action spectacle, or walk through their mutual theory, there’s something for everyone below.

THREE NOBUNAGAS

THE FABLE 

ANOTHER WORLD

Do Dreams Come True? - We all have a deep desire inside ourselves, whether it’s to start a family, become a movie star (of sorts), discover one’s sexuality, or simply to express yourself without fear. The following films explore the price of pursuing one’s dream and the certain arduous journey that remains ahead.

THE HIKITA’S ARE EXPECTING!

TALKING THE PICTURES

37 SECONDS

CAN’T STOP THE DANCING (DANCE WITH ME)


Homecoming - The world may be a vast place worth exploring in-person or through the media of cinema, but there’s no place like home, and there’s no substitute for family. The following films examine the meaning of both.

OKINAWAN BLUE

TORA-SAN, MY UNCLE

TORA-SAN, WISH YOU WERE HERE

Agree with our categorization? See the full SPOTLIGHT ON JAPAN for yourself here.


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