You are not going to run out things to do (or, rather, films to watch) in February, regardless of where you are in the UK.
Note: I’m not really providing synopses this time round, there are simply too many films. Just click on the external links, where you’ll find more info.
As always, if I’ve missed anything, get in touch!
LAST UPDATED: 6/2/2013
The theme for this year’s Season of Contemporary Japanese Films, hosted by Japan Desk Scotland and the Japan Foundation, is ‘Far Away from Cities’. Four films will be shown, with a short documentary preceding each screening. They all look fantastic to me, indeed, I get the impression there are some of those hard-to-come-by gems among them that one really shouldn’t miss. Oh, Glasgow, why art thou so far away from the city of London?
- Feb 1: A Summer Page (Japan, 1990) - Directed by Oikawa Yoshihiro (及川 慶浩). Sorry, I failed at finding the original title.
- Feb 8: 「わが心の銀河鉄道〜宮沢賢治物語」 (Waga kokoro no ginga tetsudo ~ Miyazawa Kenji Monogatari/Night Trains to the Stars, Japan, 1996) – Took me forever to figure out the original title for this film as well, but I’m intrigued by this one, which is an adaptation from a novel I think. I don’t know – it’s just a hunch because I haven’t even read the full synopsis, just picked up a few words here and there about the book. Plus, that title and the film poster – it all just seems to say ‘magical stuff’!
- Feb 15: 「イタズ 熊」(Itazu Kuma/Forests of Little Bear, Japan, 1987)
- Feb 22: 「南極料理人」(Omoshiro Nankyoku Ryurinin/The Chef of South Polar aka Antarctic Chef, Japan, 2009) – Directed by Okita Shuichi, who made the oh-so-wonderful 「キツツキと雨」(Kitsutsuki to Ame/The Woodsman and the Rain, 2012), so that’s another one I definitely wouldn’t miss.
Screenings are free, complimentary tickets can be obtained at the box office at 6 p.m. (films start at 6:30 p.m.). Website: Japan Desk Scotland.
The Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme opens February 1st at the ICA (London) and then travels all over the UK, with stops in Sheffield, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bristol and Nottingham.
On the programme (Note: not all films will be shown at every location):
- 「ゼロの焦点」 (Zero no Shōten/Zero Focus, Japan, 2009)
- 「実録・連合赤軍 あさま山荘への道程（みち）」(Jitsuroku Rengosekigun/The Red Army aka United Red Army, Japan, 2007)
- 「紙屋悦子の青春」 (Kamiya Etsuko no seishun/The Youth of Kamiya Etsukoaka The Blossoming of Etsuko Kamiya, Japan, 2006)
- 「八日目の蝉」 (Youkame no Semi/Rebirth, Japan, 2011)
- 「忍たま乱太郎」 (Nintama Rantaro/Ninja Kids!!!, Japan, 2011)
- 「マイマイ新子と千年の魔法」 (Maimai Shinko to sen-nen no mahō/Mai Mai Miracle, Japan, 2009) – One of those gems that no one who enjoys animated films should miss. (See also my REVIEW.)
- 「妖しき文豪怪談」 (Ayashiki Bungo Kaidan/Kaidan Horror Classics, Japan, 2010)
- 「フラガール」 (Hula garu/Hula Girls, Japan, 2006)
- 「火天の城」 (Katen no Shiro/Castle Under Fiery Skies, Japan, 2009)
- 「バブルへＧＯ!! タイムマシンはドラム式」 (Baburu e go!! Taimu mashin wa doramu-shiki/Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust, Japan, 2007)
See the separate post on Otherwhere for details on all the films (synopses, trailers, etc.).
There is yet more to be seen in Glasgow. The Youth Film Festival will be showing three animated films (subtitled) from Japan:
- Feb 10:「おおかみこどもの雨と雪」 (Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki/The Wolf Children Rain and Snow, Japan, 2012) – Directed by Hosoda Mamoru. I still haven’t gotten around to reviewing this animation, but it’s fab-fab-fabulous so don’t miss it!
- Feb 10:「コクリコ坂から」 (Kokuriko-zaka Kara/From up on Poppy Hill, Japan, 2012) – Directed by Miyazaki Goro. Studio Ghibli’s most recent release. I found it delightful – see my REVIEW - and if I were up north I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again.
- Feb 10: Film number three is a surprise – it’s a premiere arranged by Scotland Loves Anime and apparently it has a running time of three hours (how many films fit that description?). Before the screening there will also be a cosplay competition.
In addition to Japanese animation, there are also some ‘regular’ Asian features on offer, one more from Japan and one from China:
- Feb 7:「奇跡」 (Kiseki/I Wish, Japan, 2011) - Directed by Koreeda Hirokazu. REVIEW.
- Feb 12: 千錘百煉 (Qiānchuíbǎiliàn/China Heavyweight, Canada/China/UK, 2012).
Official website of the Glasgow Youth Film Festival is here.
A film about child abuse and loan sharking directed by Yang Ik-june. TV premiere on Film 4.
Isshin Inudo, whose film「ゼロの焦点」 (Zero no Shōten/Zero Focus, Japan, 2009) is on the Japan Foundation Touring Film programme, is giving a talk at the foundation about all his work. Free, but must reserve a seat by email. Note: There’s a draw for a pair of tickets for the February 5 screening of Zero no Shōten.
Koreeda Hirokazu’s Kiseki is not just on the Glasgow Youth Film Festival programme, but it is getting a release in select British cinemas, apparently via Arrow Films (though I can’t confirm that – no details on their website?). I wrote a REVIEW in 2011, when I was lucky enough to catch the film at the BFI Film Festival. Film Dates UK currently lists London, Bristol and Leeds with each a cinema that will be showing Kiseki.
The Year of the Snake falls on Sunday, February 10th this year and among many other festivities, the BFI is celebrating with three films that showcase the experience of the Chinese community in Britain (which apparently is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe):
- Feb 9: She, A Chinese (UK/France/Germany, 2009) - Directed by Hackney resident Gao Xialou.
- Feb 10: 鸦片战争 (Yāpiàn zhànzhēng/The Opium War, China/Japan, 1997)
- Feb 11: Ping Pong (UK, 1996) – The first real British-Chinese co-production. Note: Screens as Seniors’ Free Matinee, but other can attend also.
Booking for all three films: Chinese New Year: The Chinese British Experience.
A film from the Korean director Kim So-yong (나무없는 산 /Namooeobsneun San/Treeless Mountain, 2008, is another one of her creations). For Ellen premiered at Sundance in 2012 and stars the wonderful Paul Dano, who always does interesting stuff in my opinion. You can book tickets for the preview here.
Unfortunately the KCCUK still hasn’t released the list of actors to be featured as part of its Year of 4 Actors, or even the full programme for the one actor they did announce officially (Moon So-ri). The Korean Film Nights are taking place on a fortnightly basis so far, but for now we have only one film for the month of February confirmed:
- Feb 14: 박하사탕 (Pakha Satang/Peppermint Candy, South Korea, 1999) – Stars Moon So-ri.
- Feb 28: To be announced.
You can book here (it’s free, as always, and you get juice too if you arrive early ).
And there is something from Taiwan this month too - Nàxiē nián, wǒmen yīqǐ zhuī de nǚhái, which I had on a Trailer Weekly ages ago. It screens as part of a regular strand hosted by the Chinese Film Forum at the Cornerhouse in Manchester. Details and tickets are on the cinema’s website.
Journey back down south to London, on February 27th there are three film options:
Korean director Park Chan-wook goes to Hollywood and this is his offering – a psychological thriller that stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska. The story: India lives with her unstable mother. After an accident kills her father, the two are joined by Uncle Charlie, a man that India never knew about. He is charming, but also dark and mysterious. The girl soon becomes suspicious of him – she thinks he may have a hand in her father’s death – but becomes infatuated with him as she tries to find out more.
Stoker is also lined up for the Pan-Asia Film Festival in March, so if you can’t make the preview (whether because it’s booked out or because you want to see one of the other February 27 films), no need to cry, you have an alternative option!
Book tickets for the BFI Preview here.
After a hiatus of about three or four month, Films at the Embassy of Japan is back! As always, the screening is free but you must reserve a seat in advance (details here). I recommend doing it as soon as possible as spaces tend to fill up quickly in my experience.
No title but the Asian Movies Meet Up provides some hints: it’s a “neo-realist thriller” that is a “once-praised but now somewhat forgotten gem of Vietnamese drama”. It’s “[b]eautiful yet gritty, and with a number of familiar faces”. The screening is free, details here. Also remember that you can sign up on the official Asian Movies Meetup page for updates.
No chance of boredom this month methinks.