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It’s the third edition of the Zipangu Fest, which this year takes place at the Cinema Museum, Kennington, South London from September 14 to 16, 2012. Zipangu is the brainchild of Jasper Sharp and brings you some of the rarer Japanese films:

Zipangu Fest (ジパング・フェスト) is the first UK-wide festival devoted to Japanese film, introducing works new and old, many previously unseen by mainstream UK film audiences, to demonstrate the many identities of Japan as depicted by some of the country’s most exciting and revered talents. (from the official press release)

This year includes “re-scored silent classics, animation, experimental and Brazilians in Japan” in sections entitled Zipangu Retro, Spirit Made Flesh, Fukushima 8, Beyond Anime, The Melting Pot Japan and Nekophilia:

Zipangu Retro

  • ソミ:高麗女人拳士」 (Somi: Kōrai nyonin-ken-shi/Somi – The Taekwon-do Woman, Japan/North Korea, 1997) – Zipangu’s crowdfunded Opening Night film. Co-produced between Japan and North Korea (!), this historical martial arts epic will be screened for the first time in the West ever. To support the film, hop over to Crowdfunder.
  • 「夢みるように眠りたい」 (Yume Miruyoni Nemuritai/To Sleep So As to Dream, Japan, 1986) – More than 25 years before Michel Hazanavicius’s L’artiste (The Artist, France, 2011) came Hayashi Kaizō’s Yume Miruyuoni Nenumritai as a homage to films of the silent era. It originally screened with a benshi (弁士) – performers that provided live-narration for silent films screenings in the past. To learn more about the film you can peruse this webpage from a 2007 showing of the film in Washington.
  • 「十字路」 (Jujiro/Crossways aka Crossroads or Shadows of the Yoshiwara or Slums of Tokyo, Japan, 1928) – Directed by Kinugasa Teinosuke. Jujiro was one of the first Japanese films that screened in the West and here will be shown with a specially-commissioned score by the silent-film band Minima.

Spirit Made Flesh

Just like last year, Zipangu will feature experimental filmmaking, this year showcasing the work of Seto Momoko, Tamaki Shinkan and Makino Takashi. A panel discussion entitled “Is There Still a Need for Film in a Digitising World?” will follow the screenings.

Fukushima 8

Since the devastating March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and the following nuclear disaster, Fukushima is a place everyone has heard of. This section screens 8mm home movie treasures from the region from 1930 onwards.

Beyond Anime

Not Studio Ghibli, not Hosoda Mamoru, nothing of that mainstream stuff (as much as we love that too), but animations more off the beaten path:

  • 緑子」 (Midori-Ko, Japan, 2010) – I’m excited about this film, which I featured a while back in Trailer Weekly #19.
  • 「エンカウンターズ」 (Enkauntāzu/Encounters, Japan, 2011) – Directed by Iitsuka Takashi, who will also be present to introduce the 30 min film, with a Q&A to follow after. Enkauntāzu was featured at Nippon Connection in 2011.
  • 「アトムの足音が聞こえる」 (Atomu no ashioto ga kikoeru/The Echo of Astro Boy’s Footsteps, Japan, 2011) – Tominaga Masanori’s documentary for anime fans about “the mysterious double life of the pioneering animation sound designer Matsuo Ohno”.
  • 「グレートラビット」 (Gurēto Rabitto/The Great Rabbit, Japan, 2012) – A 7 mind short, which won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale and the Special Prize at Hiroshima Animation Fest, the jury of the latter praising Wada Atsushi for creating a “completely believable yet illogical world”. Screens with 「ソミ:高麗女人拳士」 (Somi: Kōrai nyonin-ken-shi/Somi – The Taekwon-do Woman, Japan/North Korea, 1997) on Zipangu’s Opening Night.

The Melting Pot Japan

This section delves into infamously homogenous Japan as a multi-ethnic society.

  • 「孤独なツバメたち デカセギの子どもに生まれて」(Kodoku na Tsubametachi Dekasegi no Kodomo ni Umarete/Lonely Swallows, Japan, 2011) – Another film – a documentary – that I had on a Trailer Weekly. Kodoku na Tsubametachi follows the life and struggles of several Brazilian-Japanese children in Japan.
  • 「サウダーヂ」 (Saudaachi/Saudade, Japan, 2011) – Directed by Tomita Katsuya, Saudaachi is a “vivacious portrait of small-town dreams and prejudices in provincial Kofu.” Both the director and the scriptwriter, Aizawa Toranosuke, will be in attendance at the screening.


  • 「くろねこルーシー」 (Kuroneko ruushii/Chat Noir Lucy, Japan, 2012) – Nekos (cats) keep turning up on Zipangu’s programme, hence the Nekophilia strand. This year it’s a tale of a fortune-teller, who strikes lucky after two black kittens turn up on his doorstep.

The official festival website is here. Booking for films is already possible – most tickets are £7.50 (no concessions available), plus a booking charge of 10%. I’ve got tickets for three films at the moment, still debating one or two others. UPDATE: Concessions (at £6.50) are available now. Darn! I bought my tickets too early! I know I’m being a Miss Scrooge here, but I’m still a self-funded student in much-too-expensive London.

Bonus Bits:

Reviews for the two Zipangu films I watched at last year’s festival: