Eight films released for free at the Japanese Online Film Festival

Korean drama could flood global streaming services, but 2022 is also shaping up to be a big year for Japanese filmmakers.

Next month, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s critically acclaimed drama drive my car will be featured at both the Baftas and the Oscars, including as one of 10 Best Picture contenders at the latter.

This is a reflection of the growing appeal of Asian film and television to Western audiences, which makes the arrival of the Online Japanese Film Festival to our shores even more exciting.

Until February 27, the platform supported by the Japan Foundation offers 19 feature films and documentaries, all available to stream for free. This is the festival’s first full online edition, following a successful short test run in November that included the 2019 musical crowdpleaser Dance with Me.

Rashomon, Aristocrats and It's A Summer Film are among the 19 titles available to stream as part of this year's Online Japanese Film Festival.

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Rashomon, Aristocrats and It’s A Summer Film are among the 19 titles available to stream as part of this year’s Online Japanese Film Festival.

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Part of a global initiative, New Zealand is one of 25 countries around the world that will be able to enjoy the lineup which includes international film festival winners, old Japanese Film Festival favorites and cult hits.

After looking at what is on offer, Things to watch put together this list of eight great titles that we think are worth checking out.

Artistocrats stands out for its non-sentimental approach to its characters.

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Artistocrats stands out for its non-sentimental approach to its characters.

Aristocrats (2020)

Based on the 2015-2016 serialized novel of the same name by Mariko Yamauchi, Yukiko Sode’s contemporary drama delves into the disparate but surprisingly intertwined lives of Hanako and Miki.

One is the recently kicked-out daughter of a wealthy doctor, the other is from a small town and a modest background, whose financial situation forces her to drop out of college and become a hostess.

“Provides an intriguing insight into the stuffy, rarefied world of girls raised to be the wives of powerful men,” wrote International ScreenIt’s Wendy Ide.

Kazuo Yamagishi is the God of Ramen.

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Kazuo Yamagishi is the God of Ramen.

The God of Ramen (2013)

Takashi Innami’s documentary is billed as a tantalizing examination of the life (and rise and fall) of Kazuo Yamagishi, whose legendary Tokyo ramen shop was immensely influential in shaping an industry later. around the beloved noodle soup.

“While not as cinematic as [the more well-known] Jiro dreams of sushi, god of ramen turns out to be a much more compelling movie,” wrote hawaii frolicit’s Ed Morita. “It’s a bittersweet film, but it’s one not to be missed.”

It's a summer movie!  was presented as

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It’s a summer movie! was billed as “the kind of movie that reminds you why you love movies”.

It’s a summer movie! (2020)

Sо̄shi Masumoto’s delightful coming-of-age flick centers on a young woman obsessed with samurai movies and her group of friends who decide to make their own movie, only to find that one of their actors is in trouble. makes a time traveler from the future.

“[It] has something for everyone: humor, drama, romance and a surprising sci-fi subplot; it’s the kind of movie that reminds you why you love movies,” wrote ComicBook.comIt’s Spencer Perry.

Komai Ren plays the eponymous Ito.

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Komai Ren plays the eponymous Ito.

It (2021)

Winner of the 2021 Osaka Asian Film Festival Grand Prize and Audience Awards, Satoko Yokohama’s charming drama is based on Osamu Koshigaya’s 2011 novel Itomichi.

This is the story of a young woman who, having struggled to fit in at school, may have found her calling when she accepts a part-time job in a maid café.

“Full of charm, without being stereotyped”, wrote the Osaka jury when presenting the Grand Prize. “Komai Ren, who played the heroine, provided a unique beat that moved us.”

Thriller Masked Ward is based on a 2013 novel written by real doctor Mikito Chinen.

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Thriller Masked Ward is based on a 2013 novel written by real doctor Mikito Chinen.

Masked Room (2020)

Set in the eerie confines of a hospital, this tense mystery centers on a chilling psychological battle.

A substitute doctor on call finds himself confronted by a criminal in a clown mask who asks him to treat an injured high school student. Based on a 2013 novel by real doctor Mikito Chinen.

“Director Hisashi Kimura’s deft cinematography creates dizzying tension, as the story unravels a series of intertwined mysteries,” the Australian wrote. limelight magazine.

Patema Inverted is one of the most underrated animated adventures of the past decade.

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Patema Inverted is one of the most underrated animated adventures of the past decade.

Inverted Patema (2013)

Originally shown here as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival, Yoshiura Yasuhiro’s sci-fi anime adventure is the story of a young girl who ventures out of her underground society. and meets a boy of the same age whose world on the surface has reverse gravity – the result of a science experiment gone wrong.

“Manages to be both exciting and charming,” wrote International Screenis Mark Adams. “It’s an assured and enjoyable piece of storytelling – and it looks great.

Rashomon helped put Japanese cinema on the international map.

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Rashomon helped put Japanese cinema on the international map.

Rashomon (1950)

Although it occasionally appears on Maori Television, it’s a rare chance to see a true cinematic classic for nothing.

Akira Kurosawa’s oft-imitated tale investigates the complexities of human nature, as four people tell different versions of a man’s murder and his wife’s rape.

“Innovative, experimental and brilliantly constructed, Rashomon is one of the greatest works of world cinema, questioning notions of truth and morality with its multiple perspective, a film that put Kurosawa and Japanese cinema on the international map,” wrote veteran film critic Emanuel Levy. .

Sumodo dives deep into the world of sumo wrestling.

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Sumodo dives deep into the world of sumo wrestling.

Sumōdo (2020)

Eiji Sakata’s documentary takes a revealing and rare behind-the-scenes look at the lives of some of Japan’s most famous sumo wrestlers.

Featuring interviews with sports stars and their coaches, it investigates their lifestyle, motivation and aspirations, as well as the importance of sumo to the country’s traditions and heritage.

“This is a long-awaited profile on a quintessentially Japanese phenomenon, with characters interesting enough to appeal far beyond the select audience of sports enthusiasts and Japan obsessives. make a fan of the game itself,” wrote fictional machineby Grant Watson.

The Online Japanese Film Festival is streaming now – via Watch.jff.jpf.go.jp – until February 27.

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