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JAPAN CUTS Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema Begins 7/16

JAPAN CUTS Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema Begins 7/16

Japan Society's fourth annual JAPAN CUTS Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema screens 25 feature films--the most in the festival's history and the largest showcase of contemporary Japanese cinema globally this year. In addition to 7 features co-presented with the New York Asian Film Festival, JAPAN CUTS 2010 includes an array of Japan's best films from 2010 and 2009, and a special selection of the decade's best films never before released in the U.S. Made by both established and emerging directors and starring today's hottest actors and festival winners, most films in JAPAN CUTS 2010 are international, U.S., or New York premieres, and none are commercially available on DVD in the U.S.

The only large-scale annual film festival in North America dedicated exclusively to the celebration of the best and latest films from Japan, JAPAN CUTS presents films ranging from blockbusters and art house hits to cutting-edge independents, grind house cult movies and innovative animations. With 32 screenings in total, the festival opens July 1 with Confessions (dir. Tetsuya Nakashima) and Sawako Decides (dir. Yuya Ishii) and closes July 16 with two North American premieres: About Her Brother (dir. Yoji Yamada) and Sweet Little Lies (dir. Hitoshi Yazaki). Highlights include Blood of Rebirth (dir. Toshiaki Toyoda), Bare Essence of Life: Ultra Miracle Love Story (dir. Satoko Yokohama), Dear Doctor (dir. Miwa Nishikawa), Golden Slumber (dir. Yoshihiro Nakamura), Nightmare Detective II (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto), Parade (dir. Isao Yukisada), Villon's Wife (dir. Kichitaro Negishi), and Zero Focus (dir. Isshin Inudo).

As in previous years, JAPAN CUTS launches during the tail end of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), with Japan Society and NYAFF co-presenting several of the major Japanese titles featured in both festivals. From July 1-4, co-presentations include: Blood of Rebirth, Dear Doctor, Golden Slumber, and Sawako Decides highlighted above, as well as Boys on the Run (dir. Daisuke Miura) and Mutant Girls Squad (dir. Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi).

This year JAPAN CUTS spotlights the best unreleased films of the decade in a new section Best of Unreleased Japanese Films of the 00's (the "Naughties")--a digest of overlooked cinephilic delights that favors emotion over sensation, represents a landmark whether in overseas appreciation or historical significance, and soars beyond star ratings, consumer recommendations, and mainstream hype.

Several special guests are slated to appear to introduce their films and take part in Q&As, including directors Toshiaki Toyoda, Momoko Ando, Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi, Isao Yukisada and Hitoshi Yazaki; and actors Tatsuya Fujiwara, Hikari Mitsushima, and Daichi Watanabe. This year's festival will host three full-blown after-screening parties: the Festival Launch Party (July 1) SUSHI TYPHOON! (July 3) and NIGHT OF THE FILMMAKERS (July 10).

"JAPAN CUTS presents the roughest, sharpest, and smoothest of today's cutting-edge Japanese film scene," notes Japan Society's chief film curator Samuel Jamier. "This year the lineup includes psycho dramas, thrillers, period pieces, bizarre comedies, refined melodramas, artistically adventurous indies, j-horror, and even anime. But when the lineup came together, I realized a number of these great films were made by female directors or featured a large number of prominent women's roles and powerful performances by women--a reflection of industry trends in the last 10 years, and the impact women have been making in Japan's film industry. Overall, I like to think this year's festival is exemplary of where Japanese cinema is today."

Tickets: General admission is $12/$8 Japan Society members. Special event screenings are $16/$12 for the July 3 Mutant Girls Squad screening with SUSHI TYPHOON! party, and the July 10 Kakera screening with NIGHT OF THE FILMMAKERS party.

JAPAN CUTS 2010 FILMS

About Her Brother [Ototo]
Friday, July 16 at 6:15 pm
**North American Premiere
Ginko (Sayuri Yoshinaga) and Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei) are a sister and brother reunited. But when Tetsuro's stalled acting career and penchant for drinking jeopardize the marriage of Ginko's daughter (Yu Aoi), Ginko must take steps to disown him. About Her Brother is the first drama since 2000 by acclaimed director Yoji Yamada, creator of Japan's venerable Tora-san series and 2002 Academy Award nominee for the period drama Twilight Samurai.

2010, 126 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoji Yamada. With Sayuri Yoshinaga, Tsurube Shofukutei, Yu Aoi.

Accidental Kidnapper [Yukai Rhapsody]
Thursday, July 8 at 6:15 pm
**New York Premiere
Down-on-his-luck Hideyoshi (played by heartthrob Katsunori Takahashi) kidnaps a schoolboy for ransom. Things go well at first, as the boy is eager to get away from his nagging mother and overly strict father (Sho Aikawa), and the unlikely duo set off together on a carefree cross-country journey. The stakes are raised when the boy's father, a wealthy yakuza, puts out an all-points bulletin on the pair.

2010, 111 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hideo Sakaki. With Katsunori Takahashi, Sho Aikawa, Eiichiro Funakoshi.

Alien vs. Ninja
Saturday, July 3 at 6 pm
**World Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
In medieval Japan, no one can hear you scream. And no one can prepare for the arrival of a giant rubber alien that wants to party space invader style--tearing off heads, ripping out intestines, and impregnating the species with its hideous jelloid babies. The sick extraterrestrial freak seems unbeatable... but is it ninja-proof? An off-the-wall, low-budget/high-action sci-fi blast, Beyond Hollywood calls the film "McTiernan's Predator meets Kitamura's Versus."

2010, 81 min., HD Cam, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Seiji Chiba. With Mika Hijii, Shuuji Kashiwabara, Ben Hiura.

Bare Essence of Life: Ultra Miracle Love Story [Urutora mirakuru rabu sutori]
Wednesday, July 7 at 8:30 pm
**New York Premiere
Satoko Yokohama's utterly bizarre studio feature debut is a fantastical art house tale of love and twisted evolution. Yojin (superstar Kenichi Matsuyama of Death Note fame), a young man afflicted with an unnamed and exotic mental handicap, organizes his life according to a manic system of alarm clocks and bewildering gulfs of logic on his grandmother's organic vegetable farm. His gently messy existence is turned right-side-up by Miss Machiko, a school teacher retreating to the countryside after the decapitation of her philandering boyfriend in a freak traffic accident. Yojin resolves to change his life to earn her love in a truly miraculous turn of events bending reason and reality.

2009, 120 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Satoko Yokohama. With Kenichi Matsuyama, Kumiko Aso, Seiji Nozoe.

Blood of Rebirth [Yomigaeri no chi]
Friday, July 2 at 9 pm; and Saturday, July 3 at 3:45 pm
**New York Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
**Both screenings introduced by director Toshiaki Toyoda, followed by a Q&A.
A gonzo head trip in the spirit of the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Blood of Rebirth does for samurai what El Topo did for cowboys. Set in the hazy past and based on a famous folktale, a masseur is murdered and comes back from the dead for revenge. Toshiaki Toyoda intense visuals gouge at the eyes while the throbbing soundscape of space rockers Twin Tail dig into the ears. Marking Toyoda's return to filmmaking after a five-year absence, the film is a psychedelic tribute to the human ability to shatter all prisons and endlessly be reborn.

2009, 83 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda. With Tatsuya Nakamura, Mayuu Kusakari, Kiyohiko Shibukawa.

Boys on the Run [Boizu on za ran]
Sunday, July 4 at Noon
**North American Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
Based on the manga by Kengo Hanazawa, Boys on the Run follows Tanishi, a porn-addicted 29-year-old virgin and serial masturbator who slaves away at a dead end job. After screwing up an almost-relationship with a real woman--who winds up leaving him for his hunkier colleague--Tanishi decides to fight as much as he possibly can. But nothing works to get the girl, everything's sleazy and sticky, and no one's going home happy in this punkish, arrhythmic and riotous comedy.

2010, 114 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Daisuke Miura. With Kazunobu Mineta, Mei Kurokawa, Ryuhei Matsuda.

Confessions [Kokuhaku]
Thursday, July 1 at 9 pm; and Sunday, July 4 at 2 pm
** U.S. Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
**Opening film followed by the Festival Launch Party
Four years after the international success of his Memories of Matsuko, director Tetsuya Nakashima returns with a darkly gleaming, award-winning masterpiece. Actress Takako Matsu gives a powerhouse performance as a middle school teacher whose four-year-old daughter is murdered. When questionable evidence convinces her that two of her students are the killers, she engages in psychological warfare with her entire class in a highly unhealthy attempt to make them confess.

2010, 106 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. With Takako Matsu, Masaki Okada, Yoshino Kimura.

Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World [Sekai no chushin de, ai o sakebu]
Saturday, July 10 at 3 pm
**New York Premiere
**Introduced by director Isao Yukisada, followed by a Q&A
Best of Unreleased Naughties
In southern Japan, a boy and a girl fall in love. She is pretty, smart and athletic; he is anything but. From a touch of hands to an innocent kiss, their feelings grow. Tensions rise and the mood is tumescent. The boy wants to take the girl to Ayer's Rock in Australia, the "Center of the World." The girl is dying to go. The girl is dying. Heart achingly sentimental and cinematically brilliant, Crying Out Love is a simple, epic and sumptuous story about the depths of the human spirit and power of connection. One of Asia's best melodrama's of the decade, the film was a box office smash in Japan, China and Korea.

2004, 138 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Isao Yukisada. With Takao Osawa, Ko Shibasaki, Masami Nagasawa.

Dear Doctor
Saturday, July 3 at 1 pm; and Sunday, July 4 at 4:15 pm
**New York Premiere
Winner of 21 major Japanese film awards and counting, Miwa Nishikawa's Dear Doctor begins as a deceptively simple tale idolizing the slow and simple life of the tiny village, where a young intern (Eita) comes to train under the watchful eye of the kindly old local doctor (Tsurube Shofukutei). But the doctor isn't what he seems, and decades of deception unravel in a hall of mirrors echoing reality, illusion, lies and liars.

2009, 127 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Miwa Nishikawa. With Tsurube Shofukutei, Eita, Kimiko Yo.

Electric Button (Moon and Cherry) [Tsuki to Cherry]
Wednesday, July 7 at 6:30 pm
**U.S. Premiere
Best of Unreleased Naughties
The naïve Tadokoro (Tasuku Nagaoka) is a virginal university student and new member of an erotic creative writing club. He meets too-smart-for-her-own-good pretty girl Mayama (Noriko Eguchi), who uses their liaison as fodder for her fiction. Recalling traditional pinku eiga (porn for refined sensibilities) in form--but radically different in detail--the film is both sweet and dryly unsentimental, while effortlessly dancing across the lines of comedy, drama, romance and eroticism. Reworking erotic film from a decidedly "woman on top" perspective, Electric Button (Moon and Cherry) launched writer/director Yuki Tanada's reputation both in Japan and internationally.

2004, 82 min., DP (digital projection), color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuki Tanada. With Yoshikazu Ebisu, Noriko Eguchi, Akira Emoto.

The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker [Ahiru to kamo to koinrokka]
Tuesday, July 6 at 6:15 pm
**North American Premiere
Best of Unreleased Naughties
Freshly arrived from Tokyo, pint-sized and timid Shiina clicks with tall, cooler-than-thou Sendai native Kawasaki over a mutual passion for Bob Dylan's classic "Blowin' In The Wind." Before he realizes it, Shiina is engulfed in his newfound friend's bizarre world, and their "bougus and excellent" existential adventures begin with one of Kawasaki's odd-duck ideas: steal a kanji dictionary for their Butanese neighbor. Part Holey Grail wild-goose chase and part xenophobic fable, this roller-coaster ride of a film kicks it in high gear with an exceptional cast: Eita (Su-ki-da), Gaku Hamada (Catch a Wave), Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective I and II), Megumi Seki (Honey & Clover) and Kei Tamura (Battle Royale II).

2007, 110 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Gaku Hamada, Eita, Megumi Seki, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kei Tamura, Nene Otsuka.

Golden Slumber [Goruden suranba]
Friday, July 2 at 6:15 pm
**New York Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
Befuddled everyman Aoyagi (Masato Sakai) finds himself inexplicably framed for the assassination of Japan's prime minister. Soon the modest delivery guy is sprinting from one government kill squad to the next, as the plot breathlessly spins out of control and weaves together the mother of all conspiracy theories. Aoyagi's buddies and exes from past and present come together to rescue their endangered friend, but will they be too late? One of the most acclaimed Japanese actors of his generation, Sakai gives an intensely edgy performance as the hunted every-man hero. (Director Yoshihiro Nakamura's Fish Story was the sleeper hit of JAPAN CUTS 2009.)

2010, 139 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Masato Sakai, Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetaka Yoshioka.

Hanging Garden [Kuchu teien]
Tuesday, July 6 at 8:30 pm
**Introduced and followed by a Q&A with director Toshiaki Toyoda
Best of Unreleased Naughties
Before Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata, Kore'eda's Still Walking, and Sion Sono's Noriko's Dinner Table, there was Toshiaki Toyoda's Hanging Garden. In this visually stunning, surreal tale of desperate times, pressure mounts as the unspoken ripples through an unusual 20th-century Japanese family--an unforgettable gallery of neurotic portraits captured by Toyoda's calm, composed camera and incomparable mad auteur style. Weird, stylish, and shocking, this is the family drama of the decade, where family is a nightmare fount of terror, discord and disquiet.

2005, 114 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda. With Kyoko Koizumi, Anne Suzuki, Itsuji Itao.

Kakera: A Piece of Our Life [Kakera]
Saturday, July 10 at 8:30 pm; and Tuesday, July 13 at 8:45 pm
**North American Premiere
**July 10 screening introduced by director Momoko Ando, followed by a Q&A and NIGHT OF THE FILMMAKERS party
**July 13 screening introduced by actress Hikari Mitsushima
A lighter-than-air dream of a film based on Erika Sakurazawa's Love Vibes manga starring Hikari Mitsushima (Love Exposure), Kakera is the irresistibly tender story of a young girl's fumbling towards self-acceptance and understanding. Sullenly brooding in a café over boyfriend issues and her own lack of direction, Haru (Mitsushima) is approached by a self-assertive prosthetics modeler named Riko. The two women bond over cocoa mustaches, and their mutual attraction quickly grows. With a stellar soundtrack by James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and remarkable spare visuals and pacing by debut director Momoko Ando, Kakera caputures the beauty of first love gone by.

2009, 107 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Momoko Ando. With Hikari Mitsushima, Eriko Nakamura, Ken Mitsuishi.

King of Thorn [Ibara no Ou]
Sunday, July 11 at 6 pm
** North American Premiere
A mysterious worldwide epidemic--the "Medusa" virus-- threatens to wipe out humanity by turning people into stone. A Japanese high-school girl Kasumi leaves behind her twin sister Shizuku to join a team of 160 people from around the world in a shadowy scientific project. Locked away in an ancient castle and put to cryogenic sleep for 100 years in order to outlive the virus, the team awakes to find that a gigantic plant-like creature engulfing the facility, perhaps even the whole world, threatening the last seven survivors with giant thorny tendrils. Stalked by horrific creatures, the team must discover what happened to Earth.

2010, 110 min. HD Cam, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama. Written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi & Kazuyoshi Katayama. Based on the manga "King of Thorn" by Yuji Iwahara. Character design by Hidenori Matsubara. With the voices of Kana Hanazawa, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Eri Sendai, Sayaka Ohara.

Memories of Matsuko [Kiraware Matsuko no issho]
Thursday, July 15 at 6:15 pm
Best of Unreleased Naughties
An unlikely cross between Moulin Rouge, Citizen Kane and Amelie, Memories of Matsuko is a magical realist descent into the suppressed history (both farce and tragedy) of one of the most unfortunate women ever to reach the big screen. Director Tetsuya Nakashima makes this epic musical melodrama sing like no other with one-of-a-kind visuals. Miki Nakatani was awarded Best Actress by the Kinema Junpo Awards, Mainichi Film Concours, Asian Film Awards and the Japanese Academy for her astonishing multifaceted performance. Time Out London noted the film is "stunningly inventive, crammed with ideas and emotional truth, high on the possibilities of cinema." An audience favorite at the first JAPAN CUTS in 2007, and back by popular demand as one of the best unreleased Japanese films of the decade.

2006, 130 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. With Miki Nakatani, Eika, Yusuke Iseya.

Mutant Girls Squad [Sento shojo: Chi no tekkamen densetsu]
Saturday, July 3 at 8:30 pm
**International Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
**Introduction and Q&A with directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi
Followed by the SUSHI TYPHOON! Party
In 2009, Tak Sakaguchi (Versus), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) and Noboru Iguchi (UI), came to the New York Asian Film Festival, got drunk and decided to make a movie together. The result: this splatter-ific, kick-tastic, raunchy riff on the X-Men movies. It takes three directors to make a movie this insane.

2010, 85 min., HD Cam, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi.

Nightmare Detective II [Akumu Tantei 2]
Wednesday, July 14 at 9 pm
**U.S. Premiere
Best of Unreleased Naughties
In a sequel whose formal beauty and emotional depth far surpass the original film, director Shinya Tsukamoto reintroduces the suicidal dream walker Kyoichi Kagenuma (Ryuhei Matsuda). Blessed and cursed with the supernatural ability to enter the dreams of others, sleep-deprived Kagenuma is urged to use his unwanted power to help Yukie, a 15-year-old high-school student plagued with nightmares that come to life. In a case that holds eerie similarities to events in his own past, Kagenuma reluctantly enters Yukie's nightmares and confronts the very essence of fear. An enigmatic and somberly brooding character study, Nightmare Detective II cleverly subverts the conventions of the horror genre and reinvents the archetypal villain as a victim of terror herself.

2008, 102 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto. With Ryuhei Matsuda, Yui Miura, Wako Ando.

Oh, My Buddha! [Shikisoku zenereishon]
Saturday, July 10 at 6 pm; and Tuesday, July 13 at 6:15 pm
** New York Premiere
**Both screenings introduced by actor Daichi Watanabe, followed by a Q&A
A new world of "free love" opens up to Jun (Daichi Watanabe, of the band Kuroneko Chelsey, making a breakthrough debut) after taking up a friend's offer to stay at a paradise-like island youth hostel over summer break. Previously walled off from sex at a private Buddhist school for boys, this young rock 'n' roll music fiend's life is changed forever. In the tradition of George Lucas' classic coming-of-age film, American Graffiti and Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, Taguchi and co. create a beautiful portrayal of youth, exalting in the full spectrum of intense adolescent emotions: from agonizing shame to exhilaration, frustration and doubt.

2009, 114 minutes, 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tomorowo Taguchi. With Daichi Watanabe, Kazunobu Mineta, Shigeru Kishida, Asami Usuda, Lily Franky.

One Million Yen Girl [Hyakuman-en to nigamushi onna]
Thursday, July 8 at 8:30 pm
**U.S. Premiere
The film is the hopelessly endearing exile story of ne'er-do-well 21-year-old Suzuko (Yu Aoi, Hula Girl), an impossibly endearing woman who is somewhat hopeless but wise to the ways of the world. After a bad pick of roommate lands her a brief stay at the police station, Suzuko hits the road alone with a tiny suitcase, a determined but restless heart, and a mission: save ¥1 million ($10,000), go to the next place and repeat. Hopping from place to place and eking out a living with different temp jobs, she crosses paths with various people and changes their lives. Yuki Tanada takes the road movie off the beaten path, capturing the fears and dreams of the devil-may-care freeter generation and the universal yearnings of young people with few friends and no jobs.

2008, 121 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuki Tanada. With Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama, Pierre Taki.

Parade [Paredo]
Friday, July 9 at 9 pm; and Saturday, July 10 at Noon
**New York Premiere
**July 9 screening introduced and followed by a Q&A with director Isao Yukisada
**July 10 screening introduced and followed by a Q&A with Yukisada and actor Tatsuya Fujiwara
What sounds like a set-up for an American sitcom is actually the pretext for a striking and subtle existentialist drama with roots deeply planted in the despair of post-postmodern life, with the edge of a dark-as-night crime thriller. In a crammed Tokyo apartment meant for newlyweds, four housemates orbit each other's lives--an aimless college student, a high-strung film industry employee (Tatsuya Fujiwara, Battle Royale, Death Note), a sleepaholic actress in a dead-end affair with a TV drama star, and a spottily employed illustrator with a disturbing sense of humor. Things take an intriguing turn upon the arrival of a golden-haired visitor.

2009, 118 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Isao Yukisada. With Tatsuya Fujiwara, Karina, Shihori Kanjiya. FIPRESCI Jury Prize at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival.

Sawako Decides [Kawa no soko kara konnichi wa]
Thursday, July 1 at 6:45 pm
**North American Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
Sawako has been in Tokyo for five years and is on her fifth temp job and her fifth boyfriend. When her dad becomes ill, she returns to her hometown and takes over his freshwater clam packing business. Director Yuya Ishii is the wunderkind of Japanese indie cinema, but in Sawako Decides he abandons art house conceits and makes a powerfully straightforward movie about the real lives of real people. The film is an entrancing, deadpan ode to people who make the most of being pulled in unexpected directions.

2010, 112 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuya Ishii. With Hikari Mitsushima, Kotaro Shiga, Ryo Iwamatsu.

Sweet Little Lies
Friday, July 16 at 8:30 pm
**North American Premiere..
**Closing film introduced and followed by a Q&A with director Hitoshi Yazaki
Underneath the veneer of orderly lives, frozen smiles and awkward averted glances, Sweet Little Lies is a cold-as-steel clinical study of a couple. Married for three years, the couple keeps up the apparently tender rituals of newlyweds, but all is not as bright and beautiful as it would seem. Miki Nakatani, "the best Japanese actress of her generation" (Mark Schilling, Japan Times) plays the emotionally and sexually starved wife in Hitoshi Yazaki's anti-melodramatic chronicle of the disintegration of a marriage. Even the most seasoned viewers will be struck by the menacing calm of Yazaki's compositions, and his unveiling of lives made from lies.

2010, 117 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hitoshi Yazaki. With Miki Nakatani, Nao Omori, Juichi Kobayashi.

Villon's Wife [Viyon no tsuma]
Wednesday, July 14 at 6:30 pm
**New York Premiere
Based on a semi-autobiographical 1947 short story by Osamu Dazai, this period piece flows around a resilient, devoted and preternaturally patient artist's wife. When an outraged bar owner follows Sachi's drunk and unfaithful husband Otani home from the bar, accusing him of stealing, Sachi avoids complications by working at the bar as a self-professed "guarantee" for her husband's debt. The couple's relationship waxes and wanes, deepens and shifts as Sachi's growing empowerment threatens to destroy the fragile balance of her marriage. One of the most acclaimed Japanese films of the past year, veteran director Kichitaro Negishi (What the Snow Brings) turns the spotlight on the artist's companion, giving her flesh, blood and radiant beauty, captured to perfection by actress Takako Matsu, who earned the 34th Hochi Film Award, the 22nd Nikkan Sports Film Award and the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Best Actress. Negishi won the 33rd Montreal World Film Festival for Best Director.

2009, 114 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kichitaro Negishi. With Takako Matsu, Tadanobu Asano, Shigeru Muroi, Masato Ibu.

Zero Focus [Zero no shoten]
Friday, July 9 at 6:30 pm; and Thursday, July 15 at 9 pm
**U.S. Premiere
A stellar remake of the classic 1961 Yoshitaro Nomura film (based on the bestselling novel by Seicho Matsumoto), Zero Focus is the closest Japanese film in years to an Alfred Hitchcock picture, with a Douglas Sirk edge. Teiko, a newlywed investigating the sudden disappearance of her husband after he fails to return from a business trip, unravels the mystery surrounding his disappearance and uncovers evidence that he was not the man she thought had married. Soon, she learns that her beloved husband was close to two fascinating women: elegant provincial aristocrat Sachiko and company receptionist Hisako (Tae Kimura). This postwar Japan mystery thriller boasts the top three Japanese female actresses of the moment--Ryoko Hirosue (Departures), Tae Kimura (All Around Us) and Miki Nakatani (Memories of Matsuko)--whose star power performances make this one of the most outstanding films of the year.

2009, 130 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Isshin Inudou. With Hidetoshi Nishijima, Ryoko Hirosue, Takeshi Kaga.

~

Since its launch in 2007, Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS festival has attracted nearly 15,000 audience members and presented over 60 feature films, many never-before seen in the U.S. The first annual JAPAN CUTS was one of the most successful single events in the Society's 2007-08 centennial celebration. Noted for its "rich and varied selection of recent Japanese films" (David Kehr, The New York Times), JAPAN CUTS has premiered several films that have gone on to garner international acclaim, including: Death Note, Fish Story, Kamome Diner, Love Exposure, The Mourning Forest, Sukiyaki Western Django, Sway, United Red Army, Vacation, and Yasukuni. Every year, JAPAN CUTS features a number of panels, post-screening parties, and exclusive Q&As with filmmakers and actors. Past festivals have included appearances by directors Shusuke Kaneko, Naomi Kawase, Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, Miwa Nishikawa, Naoko Ogigami, Sion Sono, Gen Takahashi, and Koji Wakamatsu.

Japanese cinema today has reached new heights of critical and popular success, in one of the most dynamic and thriving film industries outside of Hollywood. Since 2006 over 400 Japanese films have been released theatrically in Japan every year. JAPAN CUTS promises U.S. audiences their first taste of the most talked about Japanese films from 2009 and 2010.

The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), North America's leading festival of popular Asian films, runs June 25-July 8, 2010. Films are co-presented with Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS from July 1-4, during the opening weekend of JAPAN CUTS. More at www.subwaycinema.com.

The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's arts & culture programs. The Film Program has included retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres. Some original film series curated by the Japan Society have traveled to other U.S. venues in tours organized by the Film Program. For more, visit http://www.japansociety.org/film.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society has evolved into a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. For more information, visit www.japapnsociety.org.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and V subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org.

JAPAN CUTS is supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund, The Japan Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency. Additional support is provided by Fast Retailing and Sapporo.

JAPAN CUTS is co-presented with the New York Asian Film Festival. This series is funded by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency. Additional support is provided by Sapporo USA, Inc. and UNIQLO. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by WNYC.

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