FOR ITS 21st year, the EIGASAI Japanese Film Festival announces a lineup of 15 films including the third installment of the film adaptation of Yuki Suegetsu’s manga, Chihayafuru.
The films, directed by Norihiro Koizumi, revolve around three childhood friends whose passion for playing karuta (traditional Japanese playing cards) bind them as they compete in the national karuta championships. The third film is the final movie of the trilogy after the first one was released in 2016.
Aside from the third Chihayafuru, the festival — which runs from July 4 to Aug. 26 — will also screen the first two films in the trilogy while its director will give a talk on July 6 at the Ateneo de Manila University.
A karuta card game demonstration will also be held on July 4 and 5 at the Ateneo an hour prior the screenings of the first two films.
“Film is a fascinating and powerful medium that journeys across borders and inspires all walks of life,” noted Hiroaki Uesugi, Director of the Japan Foundation Manila, which organizes the festival, in a statement.
“Celebrating the Philippine-Japan Friendship Month, and as part of the Japan Foundation Manila’s commitment to promote art and cultural exchange… we are pleased to showcase once again the best of contemporary and classic Japanese films. We hope Filipinos enjoy accessing and experiencing Japanese culture through films, and also expand understanding through several talks organized in collaboration with the Japan Foundation’s theater, exhibition and dialogue projects,” he was quoted as saying.
Last year’s festival drew more than 26,000 viewers, according to the statement, making it “one of the largest international film festivals in the Philippines.”
The festival will also screen an independent documentary film, Of Love and Law (2017) by Hikaru Toda, about a couple who operates Japan’s first openly gay law firm.
The film won the Best Film Award at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival’s Independent Japanese Cinema category.
Ms. Toda will attend the film’s Philippine premiere on Aug. 4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) during the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.
A special screening and panel discussion on LGBTQ minorities and the importance of inclusion will be held on Aug. 5 at the Cinemateque Centre Manila
Japanese classics such as Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) will be screened at the UP Film Institute — Cine Adarna leg of the festival in August. The screening coincides with The Spirit of Budo: The History of Japan’s Martial Arts exhibit at the National Museum which will run from July 21 to Sept. 26.
Aside from films, the festival also organized a talk by Japanese playwright-director Oriza Hirata. The talk will introduce the Manila Notes project: the Philippine version of the award-winning play Tokyo Notes which premiered in 1994 and has since been translated into 15 different languages.
The Manila version will be Tanghalang Pilipino’s third play for its 32nd season which opens on Nov. 30.
The talk will be held along with a screening of When the Curtain Rises, a 2015 drama film by Katsuyuki Motohiro which is an adaptation of Mr. Hirata’s novel of the same name and tells the story of a high school drama club in a provincial town.
Other films included in the festival lineup are: Let’s Go, JETS! From Small Town Girls to US Champions?! (2017), a comedy by Hayato Kawai which was based on the true story of Fukui Commercial High School cheerleading team’s victory at the USA Cheerdance Championship in 2009; and Rudolf the Black Cat (2016), an animated film by Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara. The film follows the eponymous black cat as tries to survive as a street cat after being separated from his master.
Survival Family (2017) by Shinobu Yaguchi, meanwhile is a story of a family trying to survive in a world without electricity, while Honnouji Hotel (2017) by Masayuki Suzuki is about a girl who travels back in time and encounters Japanese general Nobunaga Oda before he is killed in the 1582 Honnouji Temple incident.
Memoirs of a Murderer (2017) by Yu Irie is the Japanese adaptation of Korea’s Confession of a Murderer (2012) by Byeong-Gil Jeong where a man writes a book about the murders he committed and announces it after the statute of limitations have expired.
In Tora-san of Goto (2016), director Masaru Oura shows the life of a family of udon noodle makers on the Goto archipelago in Nagasaki Prefecture. The documentary features 22 years of the family doing what they do best — creating udon. The film was awarded the Magnolia Award for Best Documentary in the 22nd Shanghai TV Festival.
Tori Girl (2017) by Tsutomu Hanabusa tells the story of university students who stake everything on a flight contest held once every year on Biwa Lake in Shiga Prefecture.
Rounding up the festival’s lineup are two manga adaptations: RELife (2017) by Takeshi Furusawa, about a 27-year-old who joins the titular social reintegration program and manages to once again live as a high school student for a year; and Daytime Shooting Star (2017) by Takehiko Shinjo, about a love triangle between a quirky country girl, her homeroom teacher, and an aloof classmate.
The EIGASAI Japanese Film Festival will run from July 4 to Aug. 26.
The films will be screened in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, and Naga, specifically at Greenbelt 1 Cinema 2, Makati City (July 4-8), Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City (July 4-6), CCP Complex, Pasay City (Aug. 4 and 5 during Cinemalaya and Aug. 17), Cinematheque Centre Manila, Ermita, Manila (Aug. 5), UP Film Institute-Cine Adarna, UP Diliman, QC (Aug. 15-18), SM City Davao Cinema, Davao City (July 12-15), SM City Naga Cinema, Naga City (July 27-29), SM City Bacolod Cinema, Bacolod City (Aug. 9-12), and Ayala Center Cebu Cinema, Cebu City (Aug. 23-26).
Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis, except for the screenings at Greenbelt 1 where tickets cost P100 per screening and are available online at or at the cinema ticket booth starting June 27.
For the complete screening schedule, visit the official EIGASAI Facebook page. — Zsarlene B. Chua