Naomi Kawase – Futatsume no mado AKA Still the Water (2014)

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On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami, traditions about nature remain eternal. During the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body floating in the sea. His girlfriend Kyoko will attempt to help him understand this mysterious discovery. Together, Kaito and Kyoko will learn to become adults by experiencing the interwoven cycles of life, death and love. (~festival-cannes.fr) Continue reading

Miyoji Ieki – Robo no Ishi AKA The Wayside Pebble (1964)

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Synopsis:
The Wayside Pebble is an effective drama about the hardships of a childhood spent with a brusque, cold-hearted father and a submissive mother. The year is 1910 and the place is a small Japanese village. Goichi is suffering because he wants to go to school, but his family is too poor to afford that luxury. Even when a kind friend agrees to help out, Goichi’s father refuses to give in to his son’s request for an education. Instead, he sends Goichi off to work as an indentured servant for a cold-hearted merchant and his family. As tragedy strikes and the suffering of the young boy increases, he begins to look for some way out of his bleak situation. Continue reading

Takashi Miike – Kaze ni tatsu raion AKA The Lion Standing in the Wind (2015)

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(from Japanese Film Festival)
Lion Standing in the Wind is based on a real story and chronicles the inspirational life of Dr Koichiro Shimada who sets off to Kenya to serve as a medical doctor. In a turn of events, he finds himself stationed in a hospital in Lokichogio in the heart of the Kenyan conflict. Witnessing death and the grim reality of child soldiers rocks him to the core and propels him on a path that he did not expect. He abandons his life in Japan and devotes himself to saving lives in Kenya.

Released in March this year, this candid drama is the latest instalment from the prolific director Takashi Miike, usually known for his ultra-violent and outrageous works (As the Gods Will, Ichi the Killer). Continue reading

Hirokazu Koreeda – Umimachi Diary (2015)

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Plot
There are three sisters: 29-year-old Sachi Kouda (Haruka Ayase), 22-year-old Yoshino Kouda (Masami Nagasawa) and 19-year-old Chika Kouda (Kaho). They live at a house in Kamakura, Japanese. Their house was left by their grandmother.

One day, they receive news of their father’s death. When the sisters were young, their parents divorced and their father left them. They haven’t seen their father in 15 years. Upon hearing the news on their father’s death, the sisters attend their father’s funeral.

At the funeral, they meet their stepsister Suzu Asano (Suzu Hirose). She is 14-years-old and there are no one to take care of her. Oldest sister Sachi invites Suzu to live with them. Continue reading

Hsiu-Chiung Chiang – Saihate nite AKA The Furthest End Awaits (2014)

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Misaki Yoshida (Hiromi Nagasaku) runs a roasting coffee shop in Tokyo. She lives alone. In order to find her father, who was separated from her when she was a child, Misaki goes back to her hometown in Noto Peninsula. Misako opens a coffee shop there. Eriko Yamazaki (Nozomi Sasaki) is a single mother and works at a cabaret. Misaki is her new neighbor. While hanging around with Eriko and her children, Misaki slowly changes … Continue reading