Friday, February 7, 2014

Bangkok Cinema Scene special: Japanese Film Festival, February 20-23, 2014

One of Japan's most-loved film mediums – animation – takes centerstage in this year's Japanese Film Festival from February 20 to 23 at the Lido cinemas in Bangkok.

"From Classic to Contemporary: A Lively Animation Collection" features eight screenings, opening with The Garden of Words, the latest work of Makoto Shinkai. The romantic fantasy is about an aspiring shoemaker who keeps meeting a mysterious woman whenever it rains.

Feel-good anime is in store with Chibi Maruko-chan: Ono Kun and Sugiyama Kun, a 1990 feature adaptation of the popular manga and long-running TV series about Momoko Sakura, a nine-year-old schoolkid.

Swashbuckling adventures await in 1982's Arcadia of My Youth, an origin tale of Space Pirate Captain Harlock.

Short subjects are offered in a package that comprises Koji Yamamura's 2007 adaptation of Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor, 2008's The House of Small Cubes, about an old man who adds blocks to his house as his town is flooded, and 1993's Karo and Piyobupt, a colorful mix of drawing and clay animation by Koji Yamamura.

Popular studio Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, Kill Bill Volume I) chips in with 2011's sentimental drama A Letter to Momo, about an 11-year-old having trouble coping with the death of her father.

From 1968 comes the classic Little Norse Prince Valiant, a.k.a. Hols: Prince of the Sun, about the epic fantasy adventures of a Viking boy. It's the debut film of Isao Takahata, who later co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki and made the grim war drama Grave of the Fireflies.

Another popular entry is The Girl Who Lept Through Time, the award-winning 2006 feature by Mamoru Hosoda, about a 17-year-old schoolgirl who mysteriously gains magical abilities.

The closing entry is 2010's Mainichi and Japan Academy award winner Colorful, a drama adapted from a novel by Eto Mori. Directed by Keiichi Hara, it's about about a soul that is given a second chance at life, only to be placed in the body of a suicidal 14-year-old boy.

Tickets are 50 baht – a departure from past Japanese Film Festivals that have featured lengthy queues for free tickets – and can be purchased at the Lido box office from February 13 (no booking by phone).

The Japanese Film Festival will also take place in Chiang Mai, at the Major Cineplex Chiang Mai Airport Plaza from February 27 to March 2.

For the schedule and other details, please see the Japan Foundation website.

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