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31st January 2024

Preview: Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme arrives at HOME Cinema

The 20th edition of the JFTFP promises to bring the wonderful, varied world of Japanese cinema to Manchester. We chat with festival director Junko Takekawa as she discusses the unique films on the programme
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Preview: Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme arrives at HOME Cinema
Photo: Mondays See You ‘This’ Week! @ Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024

As The Boy and The Heron and Godzilla Minus One are being nominated for Oscars, Japanese cinema continues to evolve. Outside of Studio Ghibli, kaiju films and anime, Japan is filled with a diverse cinema landscape – much of which never arrives on UK shores. Balancing between the popular and the art-house and the universal and the national is The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (JFTFP). In its 20th year, the programme will arrive once again at Manchester’s flagship film hub HOME cinema and screen a selection of films from its wider program from 12 February – 6 March, 2024. 

Speaking to The Mancunion, festival director Junko Takekawa highlights the wide variety on offer in the programme. From films about social issues to sci-fi comedies to films by female filmmakers or first-time directors, Takekawa says they “want to present something that, probably, ordinary people in this country would never have come across in the past.” This kind of unique line-up is achieved by trying to find what is really connecting with Japanese audiences and looking beyond the international markets. 

Twilight Cinema Blues film still
Photo: Twilight Cinema Blues @ Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024

Amongst the films being shown at HOME is Twilight Cinema Blues, which Takekawa highlights as a strong recommendation to student audiences in particular. The film focuses on a struggling independent cinema and is about a “younger audience who have lost their position in society,” and “all gather together in this tiny, independent cinema, almost like a student community.” It promises to be a window into the culture of cinema-going in Japan and highlights the importance of the JFTFP as they bring it to the UK for the first time.

Beyond this, the programme also includes the UK premiere of Do Unto Others, which will screen at HOME accompanied by a director’s Q+A. The touring nature of the programme which sees it go city-to-city is something Takekawa is particularly proud of as it helps to spread the wealth of cinema around the UK and brings guests to places outside of London. 

Going deeper into the selection at HOME, you will find the time-loop comedy Mondays: See You ‘This’ Week! and the human drama Thousand and One Nights. It is clear there is a wide range of sensibilities in the programme and Takekawa reflects this in the way she talks about film more widely, stating that “cinema should be entertaining as well as conveying issues”. 

Outside of the JFTFP, Takekawa explains that distributors often just go for the “security” of “well-known names or anime,” but their mission is to get “the audience to experience something beyond that safer comfort zone”. What the JFTFP are doing stands out in a cinema landscape, that is either focused on selling the signature of an auteur director or selling IP-based films with big budgets. The JFTFP exists somewhere in the in-between, highlighting that “the Japanese cinema you already know is only, only a tiny” part of the wider world of Japanese film. 

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme will be at HOME from 12 February – 6 March, 2024.

Daniel Collins

Daniel Collins

Head film editor and writer for The Mancunion.

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