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Japan Foundation presents WHAT LIES BENEATH at ICA (04 to 13 FEB 2022).

Returning for its 19th season, the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is the largest UK film festival dedicated entirely to Japanese cinema.

Submitted by Japan Foundation

For its 19th season, the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme presents 20 Japanese films around the theme of ‘Dark Mind’ and most of them have never been screened theatrically in the UK before.

What constitutes an unfathomable ‘dark mind’ lurking beneath the surface in the 21st century? Would it stagnate one’s life or become a driving force? Would the definition of it now be more diverse when the society we are living in is more complicated than before? Does such a psychological state add to an interesting cinematic story?

From crime films to charming dramas, WHAT LIES BENEATH asks what constitutes an unfathomable ‘dark mind’ lurking beneath the surface in the 21st century? Would it stagnate one’s life or become a driving force?

The programme will showcase the cinematic voices and skills of both experienced and emerging filmmakers and aims to cater to the varied tastes of UK audiences.

PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS

LIFE: UNTITLED (2019)

LIFE: UNTITLED d. Title kyozetsu d. YAMADA Kana, 2019 at ICA (04 FEB 20:50 / 08 FEB 20:55).

In the ramshackle office of one of Tokyo’s inconspicuous, low-rent escort services, the lives of the call girls waiting for their next client intersect and are laid bare in all their day-to-day humdrum, with visits to local love hotels, and the inevitable rivalries and catfights. Kano (ITOH Sairi), who acts as a caretaker for the girls, tries her best to defuse any potential drama, but their already tenuous peace is thrown into disarray when a new girl with model proportions joins the force, and the hierarchy among the girls shifts, creating a new slew of issues.

This feature film debut from YAMADA Kana (head of the ROJI9 theatre company) is an adaptation of a stage play she penned herself. Rather than exploiting the stereotypes often attached to the sex industry, YAMADA offers a more humanistic view of the lives of these women trying to make a living as best they know how.

THE HUNTER’S DIARY (1964).

THE HUNTER’S DIARY 35mm aka Ryojin nikki d. NAKAHIRA Ko, 1964 at ICA (06 FEB 18:10).

Misogynist and philanderer, HONDA Ichiro (NAKAYA Noboru), has an insatiable sexual appetite which is not being satisfied by his distant wife whom he only really sees on weekends. While he is away from Osaka for work, most of his time is spent living a double life in Tokyo, filling his nights with one after another sexual conquest, the details of which he meticulously records in his ‘hunter’s diary’. One day, he reads about the murder of a woman in the paper; she is one of his previous ‘preys’. A few days later, another such woman dies in mysterious circumstances. Suddenly, a string of women he has bedded start dropping like flies in a calculated killing spree, with Ichiro as the only suspect.

Adapting a novel written by TOGAWA Masako, who portrays the role of the deceived wife, silver screen master NAKAHIRA Ko (PLANTS FROM THE DUNE) directs this stylish suspense drama which we are happy to present in glorious 35mm format.

SHRIEKING IN THE RAIN Ame ni sakebe ba d. UCHIDA Eiji, 2021 at ICA (06 FEB 20:45 / 13 FEB 13:00):

On the set of a film studio in the summer of 1988 and trying to realise her artistic vision without compromises, first-time director Hanako (MATSUMOTO Marika) is besieged by problems from all sides as she approaches the shooting of the film’s climatic love scene, which is heavy in eroticism.

Prolific director UCHIDA Eiji’s eighties nostalgia and behind-the-scenes look at the pressures of a professional film studio is a realistic picture of the Japanese film industry of that decade, and is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

FIRST LOVE (2021).

FIRST LOVE d. TSUTSUMI Yukihiko, 2021 at ICA (11 FEB 18:10 / 13 FEB 20:40):

A stylish psychological thriller revolving around the sessions between a clinical psychologist, Yuki (KITAGAWA Keiko), and a young woman, Kanna (YOSHINE Kyoko), who stabbed her father to death without an apparent motive.

This edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller, adapted from a novel by the Naoki Prize-winning author SHIMAMOTO Rio (who also wrote SHAPE OF RED), will keep you holding your breath until the very last second. Directed by TSUTSUMI Yukihiko (INITIATION LOVE), it brilliantly captures the psychology of women who suffer from their pasts in silence.

THE HOUSE OF THE LOST ON THE CAPE (2021).

THE HOUSE OF THE LOST ON THE CAPE aka Misaki no Mayoiga d. KAWATSURA Shinya, 2021 at ICA (12 FEB 15:40):

Cruelly mistreated by fortune, two young girls – seventeen-year-old Yui (voiced by ASHIDA Mana) and eight-year-old Hiyori (voiced by AWANO Sari) – have both become separated from their families. Lost, with no place to go and trying to find somewhere to call home, they come across a strange old lady, Kiwa (voiced by OTAKE Shinobu), who offers them her hospitality at her shabby but well-kept home – a mayoiga (old Japanese folkloric concept).

Ten years after the Great East Japan Earthquake in Tohoku, as a result of which many people lost their lives and homes, KAWATSURA Shinya directs this brand-new animation feature adapted from KASHIWABA Sachiko’s novel, paying tribute to the area and its people. This is a heart-warming story of new beginnings and childhood wonder.

SPAGHETTI CODE LOVE (2021).

SPAGHETTI CODE LOVE d. MARUYAMA Takeshi, 2021 at ICA (12 FEB 20:55):

Just as the technological phrase ‘spaghetti code’ refers to the state of something unstructured and difficult to maintain, the focus of this modern tale of fragile young lives under the pressures of ambition, love, and general existence, weaves in and out of the perspectives of its multiple protagonists. Shingo (SHIMIZU Hiroya) has garnered mass popularity on Facebook but has no real friends. Cocoro (MIURA Toko), a former aspiring musician, spends much of her time with friends whom she doesn’t actually like. After losing her love, Momoko (SATOU Mutsumi) becomes addicted to telephone fortune telling…

Skilfully tracing the lives of thirteen flawed individuals, this film by first-time feature director, MARUYAMA Takeshi, is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, highly praised by critics and audiences alike.

THE VOICE OF SIN aka Tsumi no koe d. DOI Nobuhiro, 2020 at ICA (13 FEB 17:30):

An investigative journalist (OGURI Shun) on the hunt to solve a cold case of extortion dating back thirty years, meets a man (HOSHINO Gen) who has suddenly come into possession of a cassette tape exactly like the ones used in the blackmail plot all those years ago. Was he involved?

Inspired by one of the biggest cold cases that shook Japan, this award-winning film, partially shot on location in the UK, boasts a stellar cast and is a real masterpiece of the kind rarely seen in recent years.

WHAT LIES BENEATH: THE INTRICATE REPRESENTATIONS OF A ‘DARK MIND’ IN JAPANESE CINEMA presented by Japan Foundation is at ICA (04 to 13 FEB 2022).

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