The 15th Japanese Film Festival starts today (29/11) in Melbourne

English    Japanese




It's not long now until the 15th Japanese Film Festival hits Melbourne with the biggest line-up to date. Featuring 35 films – all Australian premieres – here is the full program for 2011:

Opening this year's Festival is Koki Mitani's A Ghost of a Chance, a hilarious courtroom drama where the only witness is a 421 year-old ghost. A mini retrospective of Mitani's work, who is often referred to as Japan's "King of Comedy", will be featured in the Festival – along with A Ghost of a Chance, Suite Dreams and The Magic Hour will also screen.

A Ghost of a Chance

Suite Dreams                                             The Magic Hour


The Festival will close eight days later with the winner of the Innovation Award at the 35th Montreal Film Festival, Takahisa Zeze's latest release Life Back Then – a sombre drama about disposing the belongings left behind by people who have died alone. In a similar vein to the award-winning Departures, this moving film charts the rediscovery of life and love through the lens of death.

Life Back Then

Other program highlights include: Abacus and Sword about a samurai with a difference. Naoyuki is an accounting geek who defends his lord and family faithfully by using an unlikely weapon: the abacus. Then there is A Boy and His Samurai in which Yasube, a samurai from the Edo period, finds himself in the present day and discovers he has a gifted talent for making sweets. In The Lady Shogun and Her Men, the tables are turned in gender roles when the feudal power shifts to a female. For those who prefer the traditional samurai narrative, The Last Ronin is inspired by the legendary story of the 47 Ronin (Chushingura) and the untold heroism of one man.

Abacus and Sword

The Lady Shogun and Her Men                   The Last Ronin

Families will love Takashi Miike's Ninja Kids!!!, a ninja academy for children with The New York Times describing it as "a raucous comedy with a talented cast of child actors that's part Naruto, part Harry Potter". Children are strongly encouraged to come dressed as ninjas to this screening.

Ninja Kids!!!

From Studio Ghibli comes Arrietty, a family of 10cm tall "borrowers" create their homes from borrowed human household items. They manage to conceal their existence well until one day little Arrietty is discovered by a human.


Sci-fi fans will be happy to hear that the popular sci-fi action manga Gantz is now a live-action film which will be screened at the festival, along with its sequel Gantz: Perfect Answer. Gantz is an enigmatic black orb that enlists the semi-dead on missions. Another legendary sci-fi animation turned live-action is the intergalactic Space Battleship Yamato – ex-pilot Kodai is on an assignment to save the battle-scarred Earth from destruction.

GANTZ                                                      GANTZ:Perfect Answer

Space Battleship Yamato

The Festival will also screen Osamu Tezuka's Buddha: the Great Departure, a biography of Buddha, told through the eyes of Siddhartha, who later becomes Buddha.

Buddha: the Great Departure

Other must sees include: Villain for which Eri Fukatsu won Best Actress at the 34th Montreal World Film Festival for her leading role; Rebirth explores the sensitive issue of a woman on trial for abducting and raising a 6-month-old baby girl; mystery and drama with a touch of comedy can be found in Princess Toyotomi, Japan's comedic version of the Da Vinci Code; and finally the Japanese Film Festival is not complete without something a bit of bizarre and wacky in the mix – Milocrorze: a Love Story is a blend of surreal storylines with all lead roles played by rising newcomer Takayuki Yamada. The New York Times has described it as "a wacked-out fantasy that recalls early Tim Burton one moment, late Quentin Tarantino the next."

Villain                                                         Rebirth

Princess Toyotomi                                       Milocrorze: a Love Story

As part of the Festival this year there will be special screenings of two films that have focused on major previous earthquakes in Japan. Under the banner „Finding hope through film‟, the sessions will be a tribute to the recent natural disaster that occurred in Japan and also to encourage hope in rebuilding. Yamakoshi: The Recovery of a Tiny Japanese Village and The Town's Children will screen on Wednesday 30 November, followed by a panel discussion with special guests Hirotaka Matsune (Cinematographer, Yamakoshi: the Recovery of a Tiny Japanese Village), Tsuyoshi Inoue (Director, The Town’s Children) and Mitsuhiro Kyota (Producer, The Town’s Children). Save the Children is the charity partner for these screenings.

Yamakoshi: The Recovery of a Tiny Japanese Village

Hirotaka Matsune                                         Tsuyoshi Inoue


Special to Melbourne this year is a series of free Heritage Screenings of director Kenji Misumi (1921 – 1975): Kenji Misumi was a director of period dramas for Daiei studios (now Kadokawa Shoten Co., Ltd), and is best known as the creator of the jidai-geki (historical period drama) film series, which includes classics such as Zatoichi and Lone Wolf and Cub. In this tribute, we revisit highlights from Misumi‟s oeuvre in these special heritage screenings from the Japan Foundation's very own collection.

Destiny's Son                         The Homely Sister                 Ken

Destiny’s Son (1962) begins when an abandoned baby appears at samurai Takakura's house. Raised with the name Shingo, he becomes expertly skilled in sword fighting. However, not all is as it seems: from his deathbed, Shingo's his father reveals the true story of Shingo‟s birth; The Homely Sister (1967) is set in the Edo period in the 19th century. Two beautiful sisters sacrifice their personal happiness to work and care for their ailing father until one of them falls in love; in Ken (1964) you will see Japanese swordplay at its best; then there's a Japanese horror classic, when a murdered wife returns in Yotsuya Ghost Story (1959); and On the Road Forever (1964) in which a wandering gambler Ipponmatsu and former samurai Kuroki Yaichiro share an odd connection, which brings them both to the remote village near the gold mines on Sado Island.

Yotsuya Ghost Story              On the Road Forever


This year the Festival will expand to a second venue, Hoyts Melbourne Central, in addition to ACMI, to accommodate the growing audience numbers.

All the latest news and updates will be available from the Japanese Film Festival's official website:

For full schedule, please visit:


The Japanese Film Festival is managed by the Japan Foundation, Sydney. The Japan Foundation aims to promote cultural and intellectual exchange between Japan and other nations through a diverse range of programs and events. The Japan Foundation, Sydney runs a gallery space, library and Japanese language courses for all levels catering from beginner to advanced. The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 with a global network of 23 offices in 21 countries. The Australian office was founded in 1977.

The 15th Japanese Film Festival

Dates(Tue) 29 November 2020 – (Tue) 06 December 2020

Times: Various

Box Office Hours: 
ACMI Tickets and Information Desk: 10am – 9pm 
Hoyts Melbourne Central: 10:30am – 9:30pm

PlaceACMI or HOYTS in Melbourne City
ACMI(Australian Centre for the Moving Image), Federation Square, Melbourne 3000
HOYTS Melbourne Central, Cnr Swanston & La Trobe Sts, Melbourne 3000

$15 Adult
$13 Concession
$11 Japan Foundation Members (upon presentation of JF member card)
$60* 5-Film Pass
 *Excludes Opening and Closing films; available only for films showing at ACMI (not Hoyts) Films must be selected at time of purchase.
$7** School Screening
**For School Screening bookings, please contact Angela O'Connell on (02) 8239 0055 or email [email protected]

Kenji Misumi Heritage Screenings – Free
Tickets available on the day from ACMI Tickets and Information Desk until sold out.

Official Website (Melbourne)

Presented byJapan Foundation



* Exclusive Giveaways to Japan in Melbourne and Go Go Melbourne viewers *

We are giving away 5 FREE DOUBLE PASSES (for 1 movie of your choice, opening and closing film excluded) to our viewers for the Film Festival.

To enter the draw to win a double pass, simply answer the following question and email it to [email protected] including your full name, email address and mobile phone number. Please mark ‘Japanese Film Festival 2011 free tickets’ in your email subject line.

Q: Please share with us your favourite JAPANESE RESTAURANTS.

Entry starts Tuesday 15 November 2020 and closes at 11:59pm AEST, Tuesday 22 November 2020

* Please ensure that you are able to pick up your tickets at our city office during business hours (10am-5pm) from Monday to Friday

* All winners will be notified by email by 3pm on Wednesday 23 November. Good luck!


Be first to comment