Japanese Film Festival 2017 Malaysia

Movie Summary

The Japanese Film Festival returns for its 14th instalment on 7 Sept - 1 Oct to serve up a slice of the best and boldest movies from Japan never before seen in Malaysia. Boasting a thrilling slate of box office favourites, trophy magnets, eye-opening documentaries, and highly-anticipated manga adaptations, the country's premiere showcase for new Japanese cinema promises a truly immersive cultural experience for audiences of all ages and tastes.

The month-long celebration will first make its rounds in the Klang Valley from 7 - 13 Sept at GSC Mid Valley, GSC 1 Utama, GSC Pavilion KL, and GSC Nu Sentral. Penang (GSC Gurney Plaza on 14 - 17 Sept) is the next city on the nationwide tour, followed by Kuching (GSC CityONE Megamall on 21 - 24 Sept) and finally Kota Kinabalu (GSC Suria Sabah on 29 Sept - 2 Oct).

The revelry will be enhanced with a generous helping of star power, courtesy of matinee idol SAITOH Takumi who is set to present a special preview of blank 13 at GSC Pavilion KL on 5 Sept. The family drama sees the in-demand actor sit in the director's chair for his first feature-length production as he depicts two brothers coming to terms with their absent father's death. Takumi will also attend the opening ceremony later the same evening, with him back in front of the camera for a supporting role in curtain-raiser The Projects.

All films are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

A complete listing of film synopsis, showtimes, and general information is available at jfkl.org.my and gsc.com.my 

Her Love Boils Bathwater (湯を沸かすほどの熱い愛 / Yu o Wakasu Hodo no Atsui Ai)

d. NAKANO Ryota 中野量太 • 2016 • 125 min • Drama

Futaba is a loving but strict single mother whose world is shaken when she discovers she has terminal cancer and has only a few months to live. Newly determined, she decides to use the brief amount of time she has left to bring back her husband, reopen their shut-down bathhouse, and set her teenage daughter on the path to independence. As she attempts to reconcile her splintered family before it is too late, long-repressed revelations rise to the surface.

  • The film swept acting awards for its two female stars, Rie Miyazawa and Hana Sugisaki, at the 40th Japan Academy Prize, 26th Japan Movie Critics Awards and 41st Hochi Film Awards
  • Won 26th Japanese Movie Critics Awards and 41st Hochi Film Awards for 'Best Picture'
  • Only director Ryota Nakano's second feature film after 2012's Capturing Dad. which collected 14 awards locally and internationally

Midnight Diner 2 (続・深夜食堂 / Zoku Shinya Shokudo)

d. MATSUOKA Joji 松岡錠司 • 2016 • 108 min • Drama

Every day from midnight till dawn, a Shinjuku alleyway restaurant becomes the watering hole for regulars from all walks of life. There is only one item on the menu, but as long as he can, the enigmatic proprietor known only as “Master” will make any request and provide a sympathetic ear and sage advice to all the night owls who come through his door in search of food and conversation. Everyone has a story, and all through the year they come to taste Master’s down-home cooking and leave feeling refreshed.

  • Second feature film of Yaro Abe's long-running manga, which has spawned a four-season television series as well as Korean and Chinese adaptations

ReLIFE (リライフ / Riraifu)

d. Takeshi FURUSAWA 古澤健 • 2017 • 119 min • Youth Drama, Romance, Comedy

27-year-old Arata Kaizaki languishes in the depths of unemployment having quit his job of five months. He meets the mysterious Ryo Yoake, who urges him to participate in an experimental social reintegration programmed called “ReLIFE” that enables him to rejuvenate his appearance by a decade for a period of one year. Arata reenrolls in high school, where he gradually forges a tight-knit camaraderie with a group of classmates, all the while knowing that when the effects of the drug wear off, he will be erased from their memory.

  • Based on the popular manga by Yayoiso, which has seen 1 million copies sold, 20 million downloads, and an anime series
  • Director Takeshi Furusawa's third big-screen manga adaptation, after 2014's Clover and 2015's Assassination Classroom
  • Co-stars Taishi Nakagawa and Yuna Taira's second movie together of the year after Closest Love To Heaven, also an adaptation of a manga

Rudolf the Black Cat (ルドルフとイッパイアッテナ / Rudorufu to Ippaiattena)

d. YUYAMA Kunihiko 湯山 邦彦, SAKAKIBARA Motonori 榊原 幹典 • 2016 • 89 min • Animation

Naive stay-at-home kitten Rudolf has always longed to roam the streets of his little neighbourhood. When his thirst for adventure inadvertently finds him lost in the big city, he meets Ippaiattena, a seasoned stray cat with the ability to read human language. The odd pair strike up an unlikely friendship, and Rudolf quickly discovers that he has a lot to learn about the world.

  • Based on a children's book series by Hiroshi Saito, which has sold over a million copies since it started in 1987
  • Co-director Kunihiko Yuyama has worked on all 20 instalments of the Pokemon movie franchise from 1998's Pokemon: The First Movie to 2017's I Choose You!
  • Co-director Motonori Sakakibara is best known for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the first big-screen adaptation of the iconic video game

Samurai Hustle Returns (超高速!参勤交代リターンズ / Cho kosoku!Sankin kotai ritanzu)

d. MOTOKI Katsuhide 本木克英 • 2016 • 119 min • Comedy, Action

In Edo-era Japan, feudal lords were required to perform expensive procession marches to pay respect to the shogun. Short on time and money, country simpleton Masaatsu Naito and his men barely managed to scrape by for their ritual visit. Before they can celebrate however, they receive news of a rebel uprising in their village instigated by rival samurai. Standing to lose more than just their land, the brotherhood must hike up their kimonos once more for another race against time fraught with danger and hilarity.

  • Sequel to 2014 smash hit Samurai Hustle
  • Spent three weeks in the top ten of the Japanese box office, raking in close to ¥1 billion (approx. RM37.8 million) to beat the first film’s total gross

Seto and Utsumi (セトウツミ / Setoutsumi)

d. OMORI Tatsushi 大森立嗣 • 2016 • 75 min • Youth Drama

Seto and Utsumi are two unlikely high school friends—an outgoing, sporty kid and an anti-social loner—who hang out by a river in the middle of the city and chat about anything that comes to mind: school, girls, potatoes, passers-by. Through their idle talk, the pair tries to come to grips with the world around them and their place in it, mulling over the myriad trials, puzzles, and odd facts of life.

  •  Adaptation of Kazuya Konomoto’s manga of the same name
  •  Ayami Nakajo was named Best New Actress at the 71st Mainichi Film Concours for her role
  •  The film’s conversational style will appeal to fans of Richard Linklater’s mumblecore flicks

Survival Family (サバイバルファミリー / Sabaibaru Famiri)

d. YAGUCHI Shinobu 矢口史靖 • 2017 • 117 min • Comedy

A middle-aged salaryman and his stay-at-home wife live a humdrum life in a typical Tokyo flat with their smartphone-addicted daughter and their son who shield his emotions behind technological gadgets. Safe and spoiled in their comfort zone, they are shocked to one morning wake up to a complete global blackout. As the electrical outage continues and supplies run low, the family flees to the countryside in an epic road trip filled with laughs and harsh lessons.

  • Directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, beloved for his trademark feel-good, zero-to-hero stories
  • Past directorial credits include Waterboys, Swing Girls, Happy Flight, and Wood Job!

Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High (帝一の國 / Teiichi no Kuni)

d. NAGAI Akira 永井聡 • 2017 • 118 min • Comedy

Teiichi Akaba has a singular dream: to crush the competition, become prime minister, and rule over his own empire. But first, his much-coveted reign of power must begin at his high school, an institute for the country’s elite and a springboard to politics. Sabotage, bribery, double-crosses, ritual suicide, fisticuffs, and more than a few unspoken crushes charge the all-out warfare between Teiichi and his rivals as they battle for student council presidency.

  •  Based on a manga by Usamaru Furuya, which has inspired three stage plays
  •  The movie is lead actor Masaki Suda’s second big-screen manga adaptation of the year and the tenth of his career
  • Suda is a rising star in the Japanese film industry, picking up three wins and four nominations at domestic awards in the last three years

The Long Excuse (永い言い訳 / Nagai Iiwake)

d. NISHIKAWA Miwa 西川美和 • 2016 • 124 min • Drama

Celebrated author Sachio shares a passionless marriage with the nonetheless supportive Natsuko. When she dies in a bus crash, he feels no sadness and is forced to play the part of a bereaving widower. His calculated displays of grief catch the eye of Yoichi, the genuinely devastated husband of another of the accident victims. For unfathomable reasons, Sachio volunteers to babysit Yoichi’s children while their father works, setting in motion his own road to recovery.

  • Helmed by Miwa Nishikawa, a protégé of Hirokazu Kore-eda, who has been named Best Director at multiple domestic awards and festivals
  • Adaptation of Nishikawa’s 2015 novel, which was nominated for the 153rd Naoki Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary award
  • Stars Masahiro Motoki in his first lead role since the Oscar-winning Departures

The Projects (団地 / Danchi)

d. SAKAMOTO Junji 阪本順治 • 2016 • 104 min • Comedy

An old couple closes their herbal medicine shop and moves into a public housing complex, eager to quietly rebuild their lives following a tragic loss. This is easier said than done, thanks to the prying eyes and loose lips of their neighbours. The community is soon thrown into a wild frenzy of rumours after the sudden disappearance of the husband. As the story spins out of control, attracting police and media attention, the truth turns out to be even stranger than gossip.

  • The film reunites director Junji Sakamoto with actress Naomi Fujiyama, 17 years after working together on indie blockbuster Face
  • Fujiyama’s first feature film appearance in a decade after 2007’s Three for the Road
  • Fujiyama was named Best Actress at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival

Tora-san of Goto (五島のトラさん / Goto no Tora-san)

d. OURA Masaru • 2016 • 114 min • Documentary

Filmed over a period of 22 years, this intimate portrait of family follows the Inuzuka clan who reside in the Goto Islands of Nagasaki. Tora rules the roost, running an udon noodle-making business with the help of his wife and seven kids. As time passes, the household endures various events—from childbirth and upbringing to separation and reunion—providing a remrkably in-depth and heartwarming look into the unique bonds that prevail over generations.

  • Named 2016’s third best cultural film by Kinema Junpo, Japan’s oldest and most influential film magazine
  • Walked away with the Magnolia Award for Best Documentary at the 22nd Shanghai International Television Festival
  • Fêted at the 53rd Galaxy Awards, 24th FNS Documentary Awards, and 20th JPPA Awards, three of Japan’s most sought-after honours of recognition in the television industry

Tsukiji Wonderland (築地ワンダーランド / Tsukiji Wandarando)

d. ENDO Shotaro 遠藤尚太郎 • 2016 • 110 min • Documentary

Tsukiji, known as the world’s largest fish market, has been at the heart of Japanese cuisine since opening almost eighty years ago. Boasting over 600 wholesalers who have dedicated their lives to supplying only the very best produce, the incredible scale of trade at Tsukiji is a testament to their pride and determination. Shot at the onset of speculation about its relocation, this enduring snapshot of an iconic national institution is a sumptuous feast for sushi lovers everywhere and a rare glimpse of Japan’s culinary legacy before it is altered forever.

  •  Features interviews with multi-Michelin star chefs Jiro Ono and René Redzepi
  • Tsukiji has been credited with maintaining the quality of washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine), which has been designated by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage
  • No exact date has been set for Tsukiji’s move three kilometres east to Toyosu, initially scheduled to take place in late 2016

Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections (アジア三面鏡2016:リフレクションズ / Asia Sanmenkyo 2016: Rifurekushonzu)

d. Brillante Ma Mendoza, YUKISADA Isao 行定 勲, Sotho Kulikar • 2016 • 118 min • Anthology, Drama

Filmmakers Brillante Ma Mendoza, Isao Yukisada, and Sotho Kulikar present three stories of interconnectedness in the Asian region. In SHINIUMA Dead Horse, a Filipino illegal immigrant is deported and forced to begin life anew in a homeland he has not visited in decades. Set in Penang, Pigeon focuses on the warm kinship between a Malaysian care worker and an elderly Japanese man suffering from dementia. Beyond The Bridge chronicles the doomed romance of a Japanese-Cambodian couple amidst a backdrop of civil war and reconstruction.

  •  The first in a biennial project bringing together renowned directors from Japan and neighbouring Asian countries to co-create omnibus films
  • Isao Yukisada’s segment, Pigeon, was fully shot in Penang with local cast and crew

blank 13
d. SAITOH Takumi 齊藤工 • 2017 • 70 min • Drama

Koji’s absent father of 13 years is found with cancer and given three months to live. A heavy gambler, he saddled the family with debt. While his mother and brother feel only hatred, Koji harbours a degree of sympathy and clings on to the memory of their shared love for baseball. When the inevitable day of their father’s funeral arrives, the siblings must confront the void left by his abandonment as well as a collection of odd acquaintances who have come to pay their last respects.

  • Based on a true story
  • Takumi Saitoh’s seventh directorial project and his first feature-length film
  • Won Saitoh the Asian New Talent Award for Best Director at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival

Movie Trailer



Venue: GSC Mid Valley, GSC 1 Utama, GSC Pavilion KL, GSC Nu Sentral 

Date: 7 - 13 September 2017 (in the Klang Valley)

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