Pop Culture

Your Guide to the Japanese Film Festival 2024

January 18, 2024

The well-loved Japanese Film Festival is back!

The Japan Foundation, Manila evokes nostalgia with the return of JFF from February 1 to March 3, 2024 in cinemas across major cities in the country.

For its 27th season, audiences are invited to watch and enjoy fourteen (14) contemporary films on the big screen. The festival will showcase a range of Japanese films from various genres that are sure to cater to different tastes and guarantees the satisfaction of cinephiles, drama devotees, and comedy connoisseurs alike.

Japanese Film Festival 2024 Official Film Lineup

2022 | Animation, Sports | 124 min

Shohoku’s “speedster” and point guard, Ryota Miyagi, always plays with brains and lightning speed, running circles around his opponents while feigning composure. Born and raised in Okinawa, Ryota had a brother who was three years older. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, who was a famous local player from a young age, Ryota also became addicted to basketball.

In his second year of high school, Ryota plays with the Shohoku High School basketball team along with Sakuragi, Rukawa, Akagi, and Mitsui as they take the stage at the Inter-High School National Championship. And now, they are on the brink of challenging the reigning champions, Sannoh Kogyo High School.

Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom (金の国水の国)
2023 | Animation, Fantasy, Romance | 117 min

Glistening with gold and water beneath the same sun, Alhamit and Baikari are two warring kingdoms that have come to a diplomatic agreement: Alhamit will gift their most beautiful woman and Baikari their cleverest man, to wed the nations into peace. But apparently, they are too stubborn to even honour such a simple deal, and trouble sparks when a dog and cat arrive in place of the promised bride and groom! In a strange twist of fate, however, Princess Sarah of Alhamit and Naranbayar of Baikari meet in the forest by chance, without realising who the other is…

We Made a Beautiful Bouquet (花束みたいな恋をした)
2021 | Romance | 124 min

The last train at midnight leaves a group of stragglers stranded at the station, who opt for a bar rather than paying for a taxi home. Among them are twenty-two-year-olds Mugi and Kinu, whose curiosity for one another is fated to have a lasting and more intricate outcome than initially expected. Caught in the period of youth when many enter the gruelling Japanese workforce, the pair live under the pressure of maintaining an income without compromising their creative passions. Patient and bittersweet, this romance chronicles the fleeting lifespan of love, as Mugi and Kinu reckon with the hard realities of societal life imposing on their relationship and senses of self.

Tokyo Story (東京物語)
1953 | Drama | 136 min

A profoundly stirring evocation of elemental humanity and universal heartbreak, Tokyo Story is the crowning achievement of the unparalleled Yasujiro Ozu. The film, which follows an aging couple’s journey to visit their grown children in bustling postwar Tokyo, surveys the rich and complex world of family life with the director’s customary delicacy and incisive perspective on social mores. Featuring lovely performances from Ozu regulars Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, Tokyo Story plumbs and deepens the director’s recurring theme of generational conflict, creating what is without question one of cinema’s mightiest masterpieces.

Detective Conan The Movie: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper (名探偵コナン 時計じかけの摩天楼)
1997 | Adventure, Mystery | 95 min

Shinichi used to be a high school detective until a dark organization turned him into a little boy. Now called Conan, he can’t reveal himself… not even when a bomber kidnaps his girlfriend! Time is ticking, there’s a wall between them, and Conan only has his phone. The heart-stopping first movie!

Detective Conan The Movie: The Private Eyes’ Requiem (名探偵コナン 探偵たちの鎮魂歌)
2006 | Adventure, Mystery | 111 min

Detective Conan faces his worst crisis yet in this 10th-anniversary feature film! Someone has figured out Conan’s real identity as Shinichi Kudo. Worse, he’s taken Conan’s friends hostage; in 12 hours, a bomb will kill them all. Can Conan solve the case, save his friends and keep his secret identity?

And Yet, You Are So Sweet (なのに、千輝くんが甘すぎる。)
2023 | Romance, Youth | 99 min
Audience warning: mild kissing, mild coarse language

KISARAGI Maaya is in her second year of high school and has just been completely rejected by her crush. Heartbroken and mortified, she vows out loud to “never confess to someone ever again”… only to realise later that her high school’s heartthrob CHIGIRA Sui is within earshot! Upon hearing Maaya’s weeping, CHIGIRA proposes a strange solution to heal her heartbreak – she pretends to have a crush on him instead. When CHIGIRA starts treating Maaya sweetly, it isn’t hard for her to keep up pretences in this strictly one-sided love game… but as the pair grow closer, Maaya’s feelings for CHIGIRA become undeniable. What will become of their “pretend crush” now?

Not Quite Dead Yet (一度死んでみた)
2020 | Action, Drama | 93 min

Metalhead singer Nanase (Suzu Hirose, Chihayafuru, JFF 2016) can’t catch a break–her emotionally clueless widowed dad, Kei, is expecting her to quit the band and get serious by joining his big-time pharmaceutical company, while she wishes out loud that he’d just… drop dead.

When his company develops a wildly desired anti-ageing drug and a temporary death drug, a merger plot emerges with a snitch in the ranks, and under the guise of ratting out the leak, Kei secretly plays dead and his daughter’s morbid dream is realised, kind of. Chaos ensues with Lily Franky (Shoplifters) along for the ride as a shinigami (death spirit) and barely-visible assistant Matsuoka, played by Ryō Yoshizawa (Kingdom, JFF 2019; Gintama), as Nanase’s aide.

Angry Son (世界は僕らに気づかない)
2022 | Drama | 112 min

Jungo (18), a high school student living in Ota City, Gunma Prefecture, has a Filipino mother who works at a Filipina hostess bar. His mother has never told him about his father, and the only connection he has to his father is the monthly child support payments. Jungo is gay and has a boyfriend, Yusuke (18). Even though Yusuke wanted to form a partnership with him, he was reluctant to do so because of his background. One day, her mother, Reina (41), brings her boyfriend home, saying she wants to remarry him. Jungo doesn‘t want to live with a stranger, so he decides to find his real father.

MONDAYS: See You “This” Week! (MONDAYS このタイムループ、上司に気づかせないと終わらない)
2022 | Comedy | 82 min
Audience warning: contains mild reference to suicide

Working over night with colleagues, a head injury from a traffic accident, constant sleepiness on the job and a bird slamming itself into the office window… on top of a pressing deadline at her advertising job, YOSHIKAWA is having the worst week ever. As if her headache wasn’t bad enough, her coworkers ENDO and MURATA are going mad and claim the entire office is stuck in a time loop… but after a few rounds of reliving the same mundane Monday, YOSHIKAWA soon realizes they’re telling the truth. Now the teammates must work together, enlighten their oblivious colleagues and find a way to end this endless Monday!

The Father of the Milky Way Railroad (銀河鉄道の父)
2022 | Drama | 128 min
Audience warning: moderate themes of illness, dementia and death, infrequent mild language

A moving biopic of Japan’s beloved author of children’s stories Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) told through his relationship with his father.

A Man (ある男)
2022 | Drama, Mystery | 121 min
Audience warning: contains strong death and murder theme and visual reference, mild coarse language, reference to suicide, mild violence and mild sporting violence, mild sexual references. Content warning: contains discriminatory language and behaviours that may be considered offensive to some viewers

Does the truth really set you free?

Over four blissful years, Rie and her son shared a loving new life with her second husband, Daisuke. His sudden accidental death brings not only grief, but an unnerving discovery for the widow: the man she thought she knew was posing under someone else’s identity. In a startling dual narrative, the mystery around Mr. X unfolds beneath the hands of KIDO, the attorney handling the case. Prefaced by René Magritte’s surrealist painting Not to be Reproduced, this thought-provoking film is a vital addition to a growing genre of Japanese cinema that interrogates fragile morals permeating contemporary society.

Voltes V: Legacy – The Cinematic Experience
2023 | 121 min

Based on the popular 70’s Japanese anime, Voltes V: Legacy follows the story of three brothers, Steve, Big Bert, and Little Jon Armstrong. Together with their friends, Jamie Robinson and Mark Gordon, they pilot five vehicles that form the Ultra Electromagnetic Voltes V Super Robot and defend the Earth from the invading forces of the Boazanian Empire and their Beast Fighters.

Voltes V: The Liberation
1999 | Animation | 104 min

In the climactic conclusion of “Voltes V,” the Voltes Team faces Prince Zardoz and his devastating weapon in a desperate gambit to overcome the overwhelming threat, putting their skills and the Volt Machines to the ultimate test. The showdown unfolds as they embark on a perilous mission. Emotions running high, the team combines the Volt Machines to form the Ultra Magnetic Voltes V robot to deliver a decisive blow against the Boazanian forces and Emperor Zambojil’s ambition of inter-galactic conquest.

Admission & Screening Schedule

Screenings are FREE on a first-come, first-served basis. All films will be shown in their original language with English subtitles.

Note: there are limited screening schedules for Tokyo Story and Voltes V films.

JFF is also supported by the Film Development Council of the Philippines, JT International (Philippines) Inc., and the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.

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