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raindance 2014

Festival programme number two is from Raindance, London’s premier indie film festival that has been going strong for twenty-one years. This year, Raindance is scheduled to run from September 24 until October 5, 2014 and will screen some 100 feature films and over 150 shorts, host Q&A’s, run workshops – you name it. The festival has long since been a good place for Asian film lovers as a Japanese strand has been part of the programme for many years now and this year includes several feature films as well as a “New Directions in Japanese Cinema” sub-strand for shorts. A few other Asian offerings can usually be found too.

Note: Synopses (in purple) are directly quoted from the Raindance website.

Japan

  • 「そこのみにて光輝く」(Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku/The Light Shines Only There)

Dir. by Oh Mipo.

Tatsuo and Chinatsu, two deeply wounded people, fall in love – but their trials are far from over.

Raindance picked a good one here, because Soko nomi nite Hikari Kagayaku has just been selected by Japan as its Best Foreign Language film nominee for the Oscars. You can read my REVIEW of the film too – it’s bleak, but mesmerising.

  • 「自分の事ばかりで情けなくなるよ」 (Jibun no Koto Bakaride Nasakenaku Naru Yo/How Selfish I Am)

Dir. by Matsui Daigo.

From the director of 「アフロ田中」 (Afuro Tanaka/Afro Tanaka, 2012) come “4 stories, following 4 characters, and dealing with the irony, loneliness and regrets in their lives”.

  • 「祭の馬」(Matsuri no Uma/The Horses of Fukushima)

Dir. by Matsubayashi Yoju.

A documentary following the plight of the wild horses near Fukushima after the nuclear accident of 2011. 

  • 「つぐない 新宿ゴールデン街の女」(Tsugunai Shinjuku Go-rudengai no Onna/Unlucky Woman’s Blues)

Dir. by Imaoka Shinji.

Toko, Kasumi, Gunji and Yamashina frequent the bars of the ‘Shinjuku Golden Road’, but once you’re in, it’s harder than you think to find a way out. 

  • 「福福荘の福ちゃん」(Fukufuku-sou no Fuku-chan/Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats) plus Q&A with the director

Dir. by Yosuke Fujita

This is forth-coming release from UK specialist distributor Third Window Films, who also have his 2008 comedy「全然大丈夫」(Zenzen Daijobu/Fine, Totally Fine) in their catalogue. That one I have only heard good things about (the DVD is still sitting on my shelf, only for lack of time), so it sounds like Fukufuku should be another one worth seeing. Watch it at the festival if you can – to support Raindance and the director, who will be in attendance – but if you can’t make it, there will be the option of a DVD in a few months’ time.

A Japanese slacker comedy about the loveable Fuku, who is too shy to speak to women.

  • 「不気味なものの肌に触れる」(Bukimina mono no Hada ni Fureru/Touching the Skin of Eeriness)

Dir. by  Hamaguchi Ryusuke. This is 54 minute film – not quite a short, but shorter than feature-length. Sometani Shota is in this. That’s all I need to want to see it.

 After the death of his father, Chihiro goes to live with older half-brother Togo.

  • 「そして泥船はゆ」く(Bukimina mono no Hada ni Fureru/And the Mud Ship Sails Away) plus Q&A with Watanabe Hirobumi

Dir. by Watanabe Hirobumi. Another Third Window Films pick.

Stubborn, unemployed Takashi leads a pitiful lifestyle; will the sudden arrival of his unknown sister give his life meaning?

  • 「-1287」(Minus 1287) plus Q&A with Ian Thomas Ash

Dir. by Ian Thomas Ash.

Ian Thomas Ash – director of the Fukushima documentary A2-B-C (Japan, 2012) – is back with his latest project, which I have been interested in since I first heard about it: ‘-1287’ documents the heartbreaking countdown to day zero: the end of 66-year-old Kazuko’s life. 

Japanese Shorts:

  • 「天使の欲望」 (Tenshi no Yokubou/Lust of Angels) plus Q&A with Isogai Nagisa.

Dir. by Isogai Nagisa.

This is a 40 minute short, part of Third Window Films’s New Directors from Japan project. The director will be attending the screening. It’s also worth noting that she is one of several young directors that Third Window Films is championing.

A not-so-angelic quartet of high school girls goes on a ruthless hunt for gropers. 

  • 「オシャレ番外地」(Oshare bangaichi/Buy Bling, Get One Free) plus Q&A with Tayaka Kosuke.

Dir. by Takaya Kosuke. This one is part of Third Window Films’s New Directors from Japan project.

 After being dumped by his girlfriend while on a date Kamono Naoto gets really down. ‘What’s wrong with my fashion?’ he wonders as he’s told off for being embarrassingly over-the-top with his see-through jacket, feather shorts and patterned tights. One day though a man offers him the chance to become a fashion model exclusively for one brand, in a trance Kamono follows this man to enter a strange and unimaginable world.

  • 「カオリと機械油」 (Kaori to Kikaiyu/The Fragrance of Machine Oil)

Dir. by Kitagawa Obihiro.

Kaori is a girl who works at a factory in Amagasaki City, where she lives with her older sister. One day, when Kaori is trying on her mother’s old wedding dress her sister returns to berate Kaori for ruining the dress with her ‘factory’ smell. This sends Kaori into depression and causes her to reflect on her status in life and ability to find love..

  • Ensemble

Dir. by ToowaII.

A woman waits for a man in a café. He is late, and she gets irritable. A tense date ensues, but it’s going to be interrupted by some unusual events.

  • んで、全部、海さ流した。(Nde zenbu umi sa nagashita/Turning Tides)

Dir. by Shoji Teruaki.

High school dropout Hiroe, 20, is living a dreary life, unemployed and shunned by her peers. One day, she runs into Tatsutoshi, 10, a fat boy with a girl’s red school pack on his back, and she learns that he lost his young sister in a car accident six months ago. To cheer up the boy, Hiroe invents a story: “If you burn the keepsakes of someone you love at night on the beach at Nagahama, that person will be reborn.” Tatsutoshi wants to believe. To carry out this ceremony, Hiroe enlists the help of a former “client,” and the three of them set off for the sea.
China

  • 忘了去懂你 (Mo Sheng/Forgetting To Know You, 2013)

No trailer.

Dir. by Quan Ling. Jia Zhang-ke is producer. Colour me interested.

Xuesong’s husband learns of a past relationship she’s had and begins to suspect that all is not right with their marriage.

  • Norjmaa 

No trailer.

Dir. by Bayaneruul.

Norjmaa, a Mongolian shepherd, tries to look after two injured soldiers. What she didn’t bank on was the soldiers’ incessant attempts to take each other’s lives.

Statement from the director: “This is a film of the culture of pasture. The culture of pasture is extensive and profound. The pasture is so large and so beautiful, so as the souls of people there. I hope I can put the beauty in my film. In the film the three people come from three different nations. They have their own culture, and they can’t communicate by language, but actions can express their minds. People should love each other. That’s what I want to say by this film. It’s also an anti-war film. In the film, one loses his arm, another one loses his leg, and as to the woman, her soil and her love are incomplete. All these are caused by war. Just as what the film says, the war is finished, yet the war of human never ends. But there are no winners, only victims.”

  • 今天明天 (Jīntiān míngtiān/Today and Tomorrow)

Dir. by Huilong Yang.

Three highly educated but unemployed youths, a small ‘ant tribe’, fight for their future from their dilapidated apartment.

Other

Of course there is lots more to see at Raindance and here’s a selection of a few more that tickled my fancy.

  • L’autre monde (The Otherworld, France)

Dir. by Richard Stanley.

A spellbinding documentary on places where people believe we can come close to touching the magical ‘otherworld’. Sounds somehow intriguing!

  •  The Beat Beneath My Feet (UK)

Dir. by John Williams.

Tom, a shy teenager with musical ambitions, takes guitar lessons from a washed-up rock god.

  • Refugiado (Argentina/Colombia)

Dir. by Diego Lerman.

Laura and her son Mati flee an abusive husband through a constantly shifting environment.

  • Hinterland (UK)

Dir. by Harry MacQueen

Set over one February weekend, Hinterland is the story of two old friends who escape the city for a trip full of nostalgia, love and new beginnings.

Bonus Bits

Reviews of past Raindance films: