JAPAN CUTS Adds KILLERS to Lineup
Japan Society announces a new film to JAPAN CUTS' already bursting 2014 lineup. In the spirit of celebrating the versatility of guest actor Kazuki Kitamura, recipient of the festival's CUT ABOVE Award for Excellence in Film, the Society adds the horror-thriller Killers in its East Coast Premiere. Kitamura plays an eerily handsome and decadently deranged serial killer in this adrenaline-filled Indonesian-Japanese co-production, an entrancing take on the consumption of violent imagery counterposed with political violence and corruption. Showing three completely different sides of the phenomenal international star, the festival also features the Kitamura vehicle Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~ and his turn as homme fatale inMan from Reno.
Running July 10-20 and now screening 28 features with 8 special guests, the 2014 edition of JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema encompasses a thrilling cross section of cinephilic genre oddities, sword-swinging period action, profound documentaries, cathartic melodramas, warped comedies and cutting-edge arthouse cinema made in and around Japan. Guests include superstar performers and independent auteurs opening up in rare Q&As and dynamic parties rocking Japan Society's historic theater and waterfall atrium. As in past years, the festival dovetails with the 13th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), co-presenting 13 titles in the JAPAN CUTS lineup July 10-13.
JAPAN CUTS 2014 again earns the distinction as "New York's premiere Japanese cinema event," every title never before screened in New York City, "unspooling across a kaleidoscopic range of taste and aesthetics" (The Wall Street Journal). Boasting 1 World Premiere, 3 International Premieres, 7 North American Premieres, 6 U.S. Premieres, 6 East Coast Premieres, and 4 New York Premieres, every day of the festival provides a must-see event for the NYC cinephile, follower of Japanese art and culture, and devoted world cinema aficionado alike.
The festival opens July 10 with the U.S. Premiere of Takashi Miike's candy-colored undercover cop saga The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, followed by the yakuza-turned-filmmaker movie magic that is Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell?. The screening is joined by young actress Fumi Nikaido, named by Variety this year as its International Star You Should Know, who joins for an introduction and Q&A, as well as the JAPAN CUTS Opening Night "Let's Play in Hell!" Party.
The festival centerpiece is the World Premiere on July 17 of director Momoko Ando's masterful dark comedy 0.5mm-a wicked critique of patriarchy following an assisted living caregiver who survives unemployment by taking advantage of elderly men. Ando visits Japan Society to present and discuss her film, as well as participate in the intimate reception after the screening.
JAPAN CUTS' closing film is the magnificent The Tale of Iya, with its North American Premiere July 20. Director Tetsuichiro Tsuta joins to present his renowned work that tells a timeless story on beautiful 35mm, showing a vanishing part of rural Japan through a mode of film artistry which is itself disappearing. A sign of the times, JAPAN CUTS 2014 marks the debut of a new digital cinema projection system in the Lila Acheson Wallace auditorium of Japan Society's landmark building, continuing to show viewers the best of this vibrant international film scene in the best cinematic conditions possible.
In its celebration of Brave and unpredictable international star Kazuki Kitamura, who receives JAPAN CUTS' annual prize, the festival presents a three-film mini-retrospective. In addition to introducing the just-added Killers, Kitamura joins the festival July 19 to share Dave Boyle's Japanese-American thriller Man from Reno along with the director, including an introduction and Q&A following The East Coast Premiere of this sexy, moody neo-noir. Kitamura will receive the CUT ABOVE Award for Excellence in Film as part of the International Premiere of The Comedy Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, in which Kitamura plays a deadly ronin whose heart is melted by his feline target, followed by the Japan CATS Party! Kitamura has proven to be not only a versatile performer in dramatic and comedic roles in Japan's Tragedy and Thermae Romae, but a trailblazer in transnational filmmaking in The Raid 2 and Killers, receiving Kinema Junpo's Best New Actor award for his work in Rokuro Mochizuki's Minazuki and Takashi Miike's Ley Lines (Nihon Kuroshakai).
Other festival highlights include the hotly anticipated East Coast Premiere of Unforgiven, Sang-il Lee's adaptation of Clint Eastwood's original Western masterpiece. Starring Ken Watanabe, this samurai-western remains in the realm of greatness, while completely reformed for the new setting. Japan's controversial mega-blockbuster The Eternal Zero will screen for The First Time in the U.S., giving local audiences a chance to see its amazing aerial dogfight sequences as well as confront the film's contested vision of history. Yuya Ishii's The Great Passage, a moving tribute to the power of language and Japan's Oscar entry, receives its awaited New York Premiere, and anime fans get their fix with the North American Premiere of Keisuke Yoshida's rapturous My Little Sweet Pea, an emotional rollercoaster of a family melodrama about an aspiring anime voice actress otaku. Also slated is the U.S. Premiere of Aya Hanabusa's Tale of a Butcher Shop and The East Coast Premiere of Yoju Matsubayashi's The Horses of Fukushima, two remarkable documentaries that tackle inequality and post-3/11 life through the exploration of human-animal relationships.
July 18 sees a euphoric night of exceeding depravity, with the International Premiere of Ryoko Yoshida's must-be-seen-to-be-believed comic tale of sex and possession The Passion adapted from Kaoruko Himeno's acclaimed novel, U.S. Premiere of Daisuke Miura's brilliant orgy-cum-psychodrama Love's Whirlpool, and The East Coast Premiere of Eiji Uchida's bloody intergenerational battle to the death Greatful Dead with newcomer Kumi Takiuchi. Zany director Katsuhito Ishii takes on the children's genre with the North American Premiere of Hello! Junichi (kids get in for only $6 following Ishii's own efforts to conscript young cinephiles during the Japanese release!). Award-winning writer for the screen and stage Shiro Maeda makes his directorial debut with the hilarious and profound The Extreme Sukiyaki, presented here in its North American Premiere. Maeda will join for a Q&A via live video stream to discuss this remarkable film.
"Curating annual festivals of a national cinema is necessarily problematic, swinging between exhaustive cultural surveys or limited selections of titles with international arthouse appeal, between a lineup that is representative and one that is exceptional. Our tactic at JAPAN CUTS--and I believe this is especially so this year--has been to focus on diversity," says filmmaker/scholar Joel Neville Anderson, programmer for JAPAN CUTS 2014. "And the results have been surprising, politically incendiary, and always entertaining. I see the festival's ongoing engagement with high and low genre, mainstream and experimental forms, as an extension of Japan Society's century old mission of cultural exchange. The lineup demonstrates Japan's film cultures navigating issues such as discrimination, aging, regional transformation, and widespread social precarity, evincing a nationalist groundswell attempting to revise history, as well as positive political awakenings following the natural and human-made disasters of 3/11."
Tickets: $13/$10 Japan Society members, seniors and students, except for the July 10 screening Why Don't You Play in Hell? and the July 19 screening of Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~: $20/$17, including after parties. Tickets for Hello! Junichi are $6 for any child 12-years-old or younger accompanied by an adult. Patrons who purchase more than 5 tickets for at least 5 different films receive $2 off of each ticket (this special offer is available only in person at the box office or by telephone, not with online purchases, and is not valid for the July 10 screening of Why Don't You Play in Hell?, July 19 screening of Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, or the discounted $6 ticket for Hello! Junichi.) General admission tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at www.japansociety.org. The box office will be closed July 4-7 in observance of the July 4thholiday weekend.