The month of July brings monsoon rains—and with it, the perfect opportunity to while away the day at the cinemas, exchanging our mundane daily routines for the cultural vistas of Japan. Yes, Eiga Sai season is once again upon us.
Organized by Japan Foundation Manila, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, Tokyo International Film Festival, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, UP Film Institute and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, EIGA SAI 2015 is anchored on the theme “Tasteful Japan”, a nod to the resurgence of Japanese cuisine as a global culinary trend and to its robust movie industry, whose film exports provide viewers from around the world a taste of the Japanese zeitgeist.
Eiga Sai enthusiasts who have come to expect an anime film or two in the festival’s lineup may be surprised at its lack of representation this year; in its stead, Eiga Sai 2015 offers recent manga-to-film adaptations demonstrating a penchant for finding humor in any situation.
The closing film of the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival presents the terrifying proposition of human extinction and body invasion, as seen through the eyes of a human who develops an unusual friendship with the Parasyte that occupies his right hand.
Tsukimi, a girl obsessed with jellyfish, shares an apartment with girls of equally geeky interests. Their lives are disrupted by the appearance of a beautiful cross-dresser named Kuranosuke and his brother Shu.
Bonus film: One of the quirks of the Japanese manga scene is its penchant for trusting readers to suspend disbelief for zany premises and plotlines. Thermae Romae II, a sequel to the comedy of the same title, follows the exploits of a Roman Empire bathhouse architect as he time-travels to contemporary Japan.
Lawyers, doctors, journalists, and cops are among the people in your typical movie neighborhood, but these Japanese films showcase the ups and downs associated with quirky occupations.
Waterboys director Yaguchi Shinobu takes on the story of a city boy who decides, purely on a whim, to go into forestry in the mountain village of Kamusari. This coming-of-age story is based on the best-selling novel “Kamusari naan aa Nichijo” by Miura Shion.
Based on a true story, this movie follows the successes and hardships of three elderly women who decide to set up a food garnish business in Tokushima Prefecture. Watch the trailer here.
Bonus Film: EIGA SAI 2015 has another Miura Shion screen adaptation in its lineup, Tada’s Do-It-All House: Disconcerto, the third in a series of film and TV adaptations. The movie stars Eita and Matsuda Ryuhei as proprietors of a handyman shop.
Japanese cuisine is a feast for all senses, and the five films featured as part of the festival’s Savory Japan selection are bound to whet viewers’ appetites.
Taishoken, a modest-looking ramen shop, attracts droves of customers willing to wait line up for two hours for a bowl of ramen. Its secret—the charisma and passion of legendary chef-owner Yamagishi Kazuo, the subject of this gripping documentary.
Sushi may be the most popular icon of Japanese cuisine, but its food culture provides many more tasty dishes. This documentary explores the cosmopolitan appeal of wa-shoku and the people who, despite hailing from different countries, have dedicated their lives to preserving this facet of Japanese culture.
Bonus Film: Love, loss, and dessert come together in Patisserie Coin de Rue, starring Aoi Yu as Natsume, a cakemaker’s daughter who finds herself working at a famous Tokyo patisserie after a failed relationship.
As with most Asian cultures, the Japanese value filial relationships. These two films explore family dynamics across different eras.
A True Love Story—Films about samurai clans typically focus on warfare and politics. A Tale of Samurai Cooking provides refreshing insight on the workings of such famed families, but from the perspective of the “kitchen samurai” tasked to serve nobility.
EIGA SAI 2015’s opening film depicts a family coming to terms with their mother’s impending death. Director and screenwriter Ishii Yuya will grace the movie’s Philippine premiere on July 9 and will be holding a Director’s Talk on Jully 11, 430 pm, at Shang Cineplex Cinema 2.
All films are with English subtitles. Screening venues are a the Shang Cineplex Cinema 2 (July 9 to 19), FDCP Cinematheque, Davao (July 14 to 19), Abreeza Mall Cinema, Davao (July 24 to 26), UP Film Institute (August 12 to 15), and Ayala Center Cinema 4, Cebu City (August 19 to 23). Detailed screening schedules and synopses can be found at the Japan Foundation Manila website (http://www.jfmo.org.ph).
See you at the movies!