JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film 2021

The on-going pandemic has made attending film festivals and in-theatre screenings difficult. Some festivals have moved to online-only or hybrid events, but even where that has occurred, finding Japanese cinema in particular remains tricky. Enter JAPAN CUTS, from New York’s Japan Society, a hybrid in-person and online Japanese film festival running August 20th to September 2nd.

The bad news? For a UK-based viewer like me, most of the films remain inaccessible, region-locked for US audiences only. But there is good news. With a tip of my hat to Japanese film distributor Third Window it has come to my attention that at least a couple of feature films and a smattering of shorts are available to rent worldwide.

In the features department, we find B/B (2020), the debut from Kosuke Nakahama, and Sasaki in my Mind (2020), from Takuya Uchiyama. Both are airing under the festival’s Next Generation banner, “a hand-picked selection of independently produced narrative feature films by emerging directors who offer a glimpse into the future of Japanese cinema”.

The most attractive pick for me is Toshiaki Toyoda’s 26 min short Go Seppuku Yourselves (2021). Toyoda has been on my watchlist as a director to check out, especially with a new collection of his works coming soon in a 2005-2021 box set here in the UK. What better time to engage with his work?

Though I cannot watch it myself as it’s both restricted to the US and already sold-out online, I would be remiss in not mentioning that tickets still appear to be available for Wife of a Spy (2020), the most recent winner of the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film of the Year. New Yorkers reading this before Friday, August 27th may still be able to catch it – though I’d only suggest doing so if you can attend an in-person screening safely.

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