This year’s AFM line-up from Japan arrives to fanfare. Sadao Nakajima returns after a 20-year hiatus, and there’s a swathe of new talent ready to impress.

Our Departures Busan


Dir: Ken Ninomiya
Mugi Kadowaki (Love’s Whirlpool) and Ryo Narita (Code Blue: The Movie) star in this coming-of-age drama based on a popular manga about the impact of an Instagram star’s murder on her group of friends. Also starring internationally known actors Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill) and Tadanobu Asano (Silence), the film is scheduled for Japanese release in January. Contact: Asako Suzuki, Kadokawa

Day And Night

Dir: Michihito Fujii
Shinnosuke Abe (13 Assassins) stars in this crime drama about a man forced to return to his hometown following the suicide of his father, a whistleblower who revealed malpractice at a major car company. He starts to think about revenge after meeting a worker in a children’s nursing home who commits crimes based on a conviction that he is helping the children. Produced by Japanese actor Takayuki Yamada, the film is currently in post-production for release in January. Contact: Emico Kawai, Nikkatsu 

His Lost Name

Dir: Nanako Hirose
Yuya Yagira (Nobody Knows) and veteran actor Kaoru Kobayashi (Midnight Diner) star in this drama, which marks the feature debut of Hirokazu Kore-eda protégé Hirose. The story revolves around a middle-aged widower who gives shelter to a young man he finds almost unconscious on a river bank. While he treats the boy like a son, the local townspeople start to suspect he is connected to a recent incident. Produced by Kore-eda’s Bunbuku, Bandai Namco Arts, AOI Pro and The Asahi Shimbun Company, the film premiered in Busan’s New Currents competition. Contact: Haruko Watanabe, Gaga

It Comes

Dir: Tetsuya Nakashima
Scheduled for Japanese release on December 7, this supernatural thriller is directed by one of Japan’s hottest filmmakers, Nakashima (Confessions, The World Of Kanako), based on Ichi Sawamura’s novel about a young couple haunted by a sinister presence. The cast is headed by Junichi Okada (The Eternal Zero), Nana Komatsu (The World Of Kanako), Satoshi Tsumabuki (Rage) and Haru Kuroki (The Little House). Toho is handling international sales on the film, with the exception of Europe, which is covered by Gaga Corp. International contact: Akihiro Takeda, Toho contact: Haruko Watanabe, Gaga


Dir: Hiroshi Okuyama
The feature debut of short film and music video director Okuyama, this drama recently premiered in San Sebastian International Film Festival’s New Directors section. Produced by Tadashi Yoshino, the film revolves around a young boy who attends a Christian school when he moves to the countryside to live with his grandmother and starts to see a very small Jesus figure appear before him every time he prays. Nikkatsu has picked up international rights to the film and is also selling Okuyama’s short Tokyo 21st October, which premiered at Busan International Film Festival. Contact: Emico Kawai, Nikkatsu

Just Only Love

Dir: Rikiya Imaizumi
Based on Mitsuyo Kakuta’s award-winning novel, the latest romantic drama from hot indie director Imaizumi tells the story of a one-sided love affair between an obsessive young office worker and a guy who treats her as completely disposable. Rising actress Yukino Kishii and Ryo Narita (Code Blue: The Movie) head the cast of the film, which recently premiered in Competition at Tokyo International Film Festival. Contact: Yasushi Miyamae, Colorbird

Love’s Twisting Path

Dir: Sadao Nakajima
The first film from 84-year-old director Nakajima (The Seburi Story) after a 20-year hiatus, this period drama follows a fallen samurai who is hunted down by the swordsmen of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (My Man) is assistant director on the film, which stars Kengo Kora, Mikako Tabe and Ryo Kimura. Japanese release is scheduled for spring 2019. Contact: Momoko Nakamura, Free Stone Productions

Marriage Hunting Beauty

Dir: Akiko Oku
Based on a popular web comic, this romantic comedy stars Mei Kurokawa as a 30-something web designer who turns to online dating to find a husband. The Japanese release is scheduled for March 23, 2019. Also starring Asami Usuda, Tomoya Nakamura and Kei Tanaka, director Oku won the audience award at 2017’s Tokyo International Film Festival for her last film Tremble All You Want. Contact: Momoko Nakamura, Free Stone Productions

Our Departures

Dir: Yasuhiro Yoshida
The latest film in Shochiku’s Railways franchise revolves around a female train driver played by Kasumi Arimura (Flying Colors). Yoshida (Birthday Card) has been brought in to direct and the cast also includes Jun Kunimura (The Wailing). The film, which recently premiered in Busan’s A Window On Asian Cinema section, is scheduled for Japanese release on November 30. Contact: Shion Komatsu, Shochiku

Parallel World Love Story

Dir: Yoshitaka Mori 
Yuta Tamamori, Riho Yoshioka and Shota Sometani head the cast of this adaptation of a novel by Keigo Higashino, one of Japan’s most popular writers. The story involves a love triangle between two boys and a girl who travel between parallel universes. Director Mori’s credits include Satoshi: A Move For Tomorrow, and the film is being lined up for release in the first half of 2019. Contact: Shion Komatsu, Shochiku

Stolen Identity

Dir: Hideo Nakata
Based on novel written by Akira Shiga, this suspense thriller is directed by Nakata (The Ring, Chatroom) and stars Keiko Kitagawa (The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift), Kei Tanaka, Yudai Chiba and Ryo Narita. Scheduled for Japanese release in early November, the film revolves around a temp worker who finds mysterious events taking place all around her after her boyfriend leaves his smartphone in a taxi. Contact: Masashi Yamamoto, Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS)

Until I Meet September’s Love

Dir: Toru Yamamoto
Haruna Kawaguchi (Creepy) and Issei Takahashi (Shin Godzilla) star in this adaptation of Yumi Matsuo’s novel about a woman who starts hearing a voice in her apartment, claiming to be from the future. Warner Bros Japan will release the film theatrically in Japan in early 2019. Contact: Naoko Satoh, Nippon TV