Japan CUTS 2014 unsheathes a lineup of cutting edge films


Photo courtesy of 2013 “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” film partners

Photo courtesy of 2013 Why Don’t You Play in Hell? film partners

Fans of Japanese film, clear your schedules for July 10-20 as you’ll undoubtedly want to attend the 8th annual Japan CUTS film festival held at the Japan Society in New York City.

For 10 days, the Japan Society will become a mecca for Japanese cinephiles as the Japan CUTS 2014 festival will screen 27 films from the Land of the Rising Sun – including works by such notable Japanese directors as Sion Sono, Takashi Miike, Katsuhito Ishii and Hideo Nakata.

Though often difficult to assemble, Programmer for Japan CUTS 2014 Joel Neville Anderson stressed the importance of having a diverse collection of films presented at the festival.

“Curating festivals of a national cinema is necessarily problematic, swinging between exhaustive cultural surveys or limited selections of titles with international arthouse appeal, between a lineup that is representative and one that is exceptional,” Anderson said in a press release issued by Japan Society.

Anderson said the “tactic” at Japan CUTS has always been to place a heavy emphasis on “diversity” in the films they curate.

“This is especially so this year,” he said.

Anderson, who is also a filmmaker and scholar, said he believes the film lineup for this year’s Japan CUTS festival “demonstrates Japan’s film cultures navigating issues such as discrimination, aging, regional transformation, and widespread social precarity, envincing a nationalist groundswell attempting to revise history, as well as positive political awakenings following the natural and human-made disasters of 3/11.” [Editor’s note: Mr. Anderson is referring to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011 and the ongoing issues concerning the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant]

Indeed, one needs to take only a cursory glance at this year’s Japan CUTS lineup to see how diverse and eclectic these films are.

Photo courtesy of www.twitchfilm.com

The Devil’s Path – Photo courtesy of http://www.twitchfilm.com

The always popular Yakuza genre of Japanese film will be represented by Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Kazua Shiraishi’s The Devil’s Path and Takashi Miike’s The Mole Song: Undercover Agent ReijiThe latter will serve as the festival’s opening film.



The Horses of Fukushima

The Horses of Fukushima

Documentary film is represented by Yoju Matsubayashi’s The Horses of Fukushima which chronicles how a rancher in post 3/11 Fukushima defied government orders when he refused to kill his irradiated horses.



Samurai movies have long been a Japanese film tradition and will continue to be so at Japan CUTS 2014 when the quirky yet lovable film Neko Samurai screens.

The film follows samurai Kyutaro Madarame (played by Kazuki Kitamura) who has been hired by a gang to assassinate the pet cat of a rival factions’s leader. However, Madarame becomes attached to his target and must battle both gangs to protect himself and his newly found feline friend.

Unforgiven - Photo courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

Yurusarezaru Mono – Photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

The Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1992 classic Unforgiven, Yurusarezaru Mono stars Ken Watanabe and sees the Western genre receive some love at Japan CUTS 2014.




Monsterz - Photo courtesy of www.joblo.com

Monsterz – Photo courtesy of http://www.joblo.com

What Japanese film festival would be complete without at least one horror film? Master horror-director Hideo Nakatak (Ringu, Dark Water) will have his remake of the 2010 South Korean film Haunters screened at Japan CUTS 2014. A paranormal thriller, Nakata’s Monsterz will surely scratch the itch of those looking for a good scare.

Looking for something to take your child to see? How about bringing them to see Katsuhito Ishii’s latest film Hello! Junichi! It’ll be interesting to see how Ishii (who directed the wonderfully bizarre films The Taste of Tea and Funky Forest: The First Contact) fares in the childrens genre.

According to the press release, the Japan CUTS film festival is “North America’s largest showcase of Japanese film” and “encompasses a thrilling cross section of cinephilic genre oddities.” Japan CUTS 2014 will be home to “1 World Premiere, 3 International Premieres, 7 North American Premieres, 6 U.S. Premieres, 5 East Coast Premieres, and 4 New York Premieres.”

For those interested in the full lineup up of films or wish to attend the Japan CUTS 2014 film festival , go ahead and visit Japan Society to get ticket information and showtimes.


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