[dropcap letter="I"]t is that time of the year again when otakus and film lovers head to the cinema to catch the best Japanese movies for free. Eiga Sai, the Japanese film festival, is back with a vengeance. This year, the festival revolves around "Family." With both the Philippines and Japan have experienced devastating disaster and lost countless lives and resources, the value of family shines through. All films pay homage to the most basic unit of the society and even extend its appreciation to communities.
Now on its nth year, the film festival is an event that you shouldn't missed. We list down eight films which deal with various stories of families that you shouldn't miss in this year's Eiga Sai.
Directed by: Nao Kobuta
Running time: 116 minutes
The film festival begins with this feature directorial debut of documentary veteran Kubota Nao.
The dramatic film involves a broken family seeking for light and hope in the midst of injustice and desperation. Set in Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake, it follows Jiro (portrayed by Matsuyama Kenichi) as he returns to his hometown for the first time in 20 years and begins to tend the fields in their family farm.
Be sure to bring some tissue with you because this film touches the heart and makes a person contemplate your relationship with your family.
Directed by: Fukada Koji
Running time: 96 minutes
You think you know what hospitality means? Think again as this film comically depicts how an ordinary family transforms when an unexpected visitor arrives at their doorstep.
Kobayashi Mikio (played by Yamauchi Kenji) runs a small printing factory in downtown Tokyo. His peaceful and quiet life with his wife Natsuki changes when a man appears one day claiming to be the son of a wealthy man who once provided financial support for Kobayashi's factory. This is human comedy at the finest.
Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda
Running time: 117 minutes
Of course, a Japanese film festival won't be complete without animated films.
One of the two featured is "Wolf Children." The story follows 13 years in the lives of a mother and her two wolf children. Hana, who was then a college student, falls in love with a wolf man and gives birth to two wolf children, Yuki and Ame. Everything seems going smoothly until the wolf man passes away. Left to take care of her two kids, Hana decides to raise them in a remote countryside and wait for the wolf children to choose whether to live as humans or wolves.
Directed by: Seiji Aburatani
Running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Drama/Based on a true story
Go back in time with this historical film that is based on a true incident that happened in the aftermath of World War II. The first foray of TV director Aburatani Seiji into filmmaking, the drama depicts the friendship that transcends national borders.
In January 14, 1946, right after the war, a British Air Force VIP transport plane, named Dakota, heading to Tokyo had to make an emergency landing in a small village on Sado Island. Even though the village people were quite apprehensive about the stranded crew, they decide to help. A friendship between the stranded crew and the local residents was established as they work together to fix the landlocked plane.
Directed by: Yuichiro Hirakawa
Running time: 129 minutes
What if you could have the power to reunite the living with the dead for one time only, would you take the responsibility?
In this heart-warming fantasy film, actor Matsuzaka Tori takes on the role of Ayumi, a young man who becomes an apprentice "tsunagu"---an emissary that helps the living communicate with their departed loved ones and make peace with their death.
As Ayumi facilitates reunions for his diverse clients---an arrogant middle-aged man to his mother who died of cancer, a high school student to his friend who died in a bicycle accident, and an office worker who has been waiting seven years for his missing girlfriend---the young apprentice begins to contemplate life and death. Can the living really be saved by meeting their deceased loved once again?
Directed by: Shinobo Yaguchi
Running time: 111 minutes
What happens when an elderly man suits up and tries to pass off as a robot?
From the director of comical hit "Happy Flight" comes another hilariously funny film about Kobayashi, a Consumer electronics company employee assigned to create a bipedal robot who failes miserably. To keep his job, he plans to pass off a human in a suit as a robot. He finds an elderly man named Suzuki who fits inside the suit perfectly but chaos ensues.
Directed by: Keiichi Kobayashi
Running time: 113 minutes
Momoiro Sora O is basically a collection if life lessons on growing up beautifully captured in black and white cinematography.
This film tells the story of a high school student named Kawashima Izumi (played by Ikeda Ai) when she finds a wallet lying on the side of a street containing a large wad of cash. Her curiosity drives her to search for the wallet's owner.
Directed by: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Running time: 160 minutes
Experience the beauty of Nagaoka in this spectacular film about a female reporter who goes through a peculiar series of fortunate events as she interacts with the people living there.
Reporter Reiko receives a letter from her former lover, inviting her to see the Nagaoka fireworks an a stage performance. With newspaper coverage in mind, she decides to visit the place. Will Reiko get an exclusive story that every reporter hopes for?
All films will be screened at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 2 from July 3 to 13, at Abreeza Mall Cinema, Ayala on July 25 to 27, and at FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City on July 29 to August 3, and Ayala Center Cinema 4, Cebu City on August 6 to 10. For detailed screening schedules and inquiries, visit the Japan Foundation, Manila website at www.jfmo.org.ph. Please post your thoughts in the Comments Section.