A packed program of new releases and classics traverses the genre spectrum from heartfelt comedies and dark dramas to yakuza action movies
This year’s JFF theme is “fresh perspectives”, with a line-up that tackles old tales and well-trodden plots with new eyes and novel tricks.
The main festival kicks off at Event Cinemas George Street on November 16 with the action-packed Mumon: The Land of Stealth, a period drama about a deadly but careless ninja assassin whose mistake launches a battle between the warlord Nobunaga Oga’s army and the ninjas in his province.
In Birds Without Names, former teen star Yu Aoi’s character, Kitahara, cannot let go of an ex-lover who almost killed her. When she learns that he has been missing for five years, the film develops into a dark and visceral thriller. Meanwhile, closing film Radiance explores vulnerability and loneliness via the growing relationship between a sensitive young writer and a celebrated photographer losing his sight.
Unconventional families are another recurring theme in the program. In offbeat comedy My Uncle, a young boy and his eccentric but aimless philosopher uncle set off for Hawaii in pursuit of a woman the latter has fallen for, encountering expected obstacles along the way. Dear Etranger, which won the Special Grand Prix at the Montreal World Film Festival, is an exploration of the fraught emotional challenges that come with building a stepfamily.
Anime fans are taken forward in time to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The title character of Ancien and the Magic Tablet is a sleepy schoolgirl who lives more vividly in her dreams, where she is a sorcerer princess who can bring inanimate objects to life. A monster must be defeated, a father must be saved, and her two worlds begin to collide.
The classics program returns to the Art Gallery of NSW from October 1, this year as a retrospective of the late cult movie director Seijun Suzuki. Suzuki's avant-garde style, pop art visuals and subversive themes inspired Quentin Tarantino fills like Kill Bill and are on full display in yakuza classics such as Branded to Kill (1967).
For the first time, the festival is running a short film program as well, with screenings of chaotic family comedy 'Dad’s Wedding' and 'San in Sydney', which follows local chef Yu Sasaki as he brings the traditions of his hometown to life at his namesake inner Sydney restaurant.
Tickets are on sale now.