Takashi Miike returns to Cannes with First Love, while the new films of Koji Fukada and Takashi Shimizu are among a raft of Japanese titles being sold in the Marché.

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Source: Quinzaine

‘First Love’


First Love

Dir Takashi Miike
Selected for Directors’ Fortnight, the latest blood-soaked action title from Cannes regular Takashi Miike follows a young boxer who falls for a prostitute and addict, unaware that she is unwittingly caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme. Produced by Muneyuki Kii and Misako Saka with backing from Japanese studio Toei, the film was co-produced by Jeremy Thomas of the UK’s Recorded Picture Company, who previously worked with Miike on Blade Of The Immortal (2017), Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai (2011) and 13 Assassins (2010).
Contact, world ex Europe, America, Africa: Shiori Takata, Toei; Contact, Europe, America, Africa: HanWay 


AI (working title)

Dir Yu Irie
Takao Osawa (Shield Of Straw), Kento Kaku (Psychic Kusuo) and Takanori Iwata (Evergreen Love) star in this thriller about a researcher who is accused of terrorism when the artificial intelligence (AI) technology he invented becomes part of people’s everyday lives but runs out of control. Yu Irie’s credits include Memoirs Of A Murderer (2017), a remake of the Korean thriller of the same name, and sci-fi drama The Sun (2016). AI is in production for Japanese release in 2020.
Contact: Naoko Satoh, Nippon TV 

Baragaki: Unbroken Samurai

Dir Masato Harada
Currently in production, Masato Harada’s latest samurai drama is based on the true story of Toshizo Hijikata, who together with his men formed a group called ‘Shinsengumi’ to protect the shogunate. Harada has previously directed historical epics such as Sekigahara (2017) and crime suspense films including Killing For The Prosecution (2018). Scheduled for release in 2020, the film has a stellar ensemble cast including Junichi Okada, Ko Shibasaki, Ryohei Suzuki, Ryosuke Yamada and Hideaki Ito.
Contact: International business department, Toho 

Brave Father Online — Our Story Of Final Fantasy XIV

Dirs Teruo Noguchi, Kiyoshi Yamamoto
Scheduled for Japanese release on June 21, this drama tells the story of a young man who attempts to reconnect with his recently retired father by introducing him to an online video game. He then secretly plays the game with his parent using an anonymous avatar. Co-directors Teruo Noguchi and Kiyoshi Yamamoto also directed the popular TV drama on which the film is based. Kentaro Sakaguchi (The 100th Love With You) and Kotaro Yoshida (The Third Murder) head the cast.
Contact: Keiko Yoshida, Gaga Corp 


Dir Mika Ninagawa
Tatsuya Fujiwara (Death Note) stars in this suspense thriller about a woman who is forced to work in a members-only diner that caters exclusively for murderers and where even the chef was a former assassin. Director Mika Ninagawa has credits including Sakuran (2006) and Helter Skelter(2012) and is also a photographer known for her brightly coloured photographs of flowers, fish and landscapes. Diner is screening in the Marché on May 17 and is scheduled for Japanese theatrical release on July 5, 2019.
Contact: Naoko Satoh, Nippon TV 

Dragon Quest — Your Story

Dir Takashi Yamazaki
Based on the popular role-playing video game, this 3G CG animated feature is written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki, whose credits include Stand By Me Doraemon (2014) and Always: Sunset On Third Street (2005). Scheduled for Japanese release on August 2, the film is produced by animation studio Shirogumi Inc and also has animation directors Ryuichi Yagi (co-director onStand By Me Doraemon) and Makoto Hanafusa on board.
Contact: International Business Department, Toho 

The Flowers Of Evil

Dir Noboru Iguchi
Kentaro Ito (Café Funiculi Funicula) and Tina Tamashiro (Dolmen X) star in this adaptation of a popular manga about a teenager who is blackmailed by a fellow student who catches him stealing the gym wear of the girl he has a crush on. Produced by Kadokawa Daiei Studio, the film is in post-production for release this autumn. Iguchi is a veteran director across both cult and mainstream films with credits including The ABCs Of Death (2012), The Machine Girl (2008) and RoboGeisha(2009).
Contact: Emico Kawai, Nikkatsu 

Fortress Of Skulls

Dir Takanobu Kanazawa
The latest production from Geki Cine, which films its acclaimed stage plays in one take using state-of-the-art production technology, has drawn major stars from the worlds of film and television, including Kenichi Matsuyama, Osamu Mukai and Rena Tanaka. Written by Kazuki Nakashima, the play revolves around the mysterious ties between a vagabond, a geisha and a samurai who find themselves thrown together in a brothel town. Fortress Of Skulls world-premiered as the closing film of the Noves Visions section at last year’s Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival.
Contact: Hiroyuki Hata, Village Inc 

Fukushima 50

Dir Setsuro Wakamatsu
Ken Watanabe (Inception) and Koichi Sato (Unforgiven) head the cast of this action drama, which tells the story of the courageous workers who remained on site to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant during its meltdown following the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. Setsuro Wakamatsu, whose credits include disaster and action movies such as Whiteout (2000) and The Unbroken (2009), directs from a script by Yoichi Maekawa based on Ryusho Kadota’s book On The Brink: The Inside Story Of Fukushima Daiichi. Currently in post-production, the film is being lined up for release in 2020.
Contact: Takeo Kodera, Kadokawa 

A Girl Missing

Dir Koji Fukada
The latest drama from Koji Fukada, who won the Un Certain Regard jury prize in 2016 forHarmonium, follows a woman working as a private nurse in a family that she has almost become a part of. But her life is ruined when the younger daughter of the family is kidnapped and the media reveals it was the nurse’s nephew who kidnapped her. Mariko Tsutsui, Mikako Ichikawa and Sosuke Ikematsu head the cast of the film, which is produced by Kadokawa and Tokyo Garage with France’s Comme des Cinémas.
Contact, Asia: Takeo Kodera, Kadokawa  Contact, world ex Asia: Fionnuala Jamison, mk2 Films 

His Bad Blood

Dir Koichiro Oyama
The debut feature of Koichiro Oyama, who worked as an assistant director on Hideo Nakata’sKaidan (2007), this father-son relationship drama recently won the audience award at Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. Starring Ikkei Watanabe (Suspect X), the film tells the story of a young man who is forced to reconnect with his fugitive father when he is hounded out of his village following a series of burglaries.
Contact: Keiko Yoshida, Gaga Corp 

Howling Village

Dir Takashi Shimizu
Currently in post-production, the latest horror film from Shimizu tells the story of a village at the end of a forgotten tunnel from which nobody has ever returned alive. The film, produced by Muneyuki Kii (A Bride For Rip Van Winkle), delves into what happened to the villagers and why their home is called the Howling Village. Shimizu is best known as the creator of The Grudgefranchise in Japan and its English-language remakes in the US.
Contact: Shiori Takata, Toei 

My Sweet Grappa Remedies

Dir Akiko Ooku
Yasuko Matsuyuki (Hula Girls) heads the cast of this drama about a 40-something woman who is happy with her single life but nevertheless starts dating a man who is 24 years her junior. Akiko Ooku won the audience award at Tokyo International Film Festival for Tremble All You Want(2017), which was about a woman in her 20s, and last year directed Marriage Hunting Beauty, about a woman in her 30s. Haru Kuroki and Hiroya Shimizu also star in her new romantic drama, which is scheduled for Japanese release in 2020.
Contact: Fumiko Nagata, Free Stone Productions 

One Night

Dir Kazuya Shiraishi
Currently in production for an autumn release, Kazuya Shiraishi’s family drama revolves around a mother and her three children who are torn apart by a tragedy and then struggle to reconnect when they are reunited 15 years later. Produced by Robot Communications, the film stars Takeru Satoh (Samurai Marathon), Ryohei Suzuki (Tokyo Tribe), Mayu Matsuoka (Shoplifters) and Yuko Tanaka (Midnight Diner). Shiraishi’s credits include yakuza drama The Blood Of Wolves (2018) and crime drama Twisted Justice (2016).
Contact: Emico Kawai, Nikkatsu 

Taro The Fool

Dir Tatsushi Omori
Instagram influencer and model Yoshi is making his acting debut in this drama about three disaffected teenagers who try to change their lives but end up involved with local gangsters. Currently in post-production, the film is produced by Japan’s Happinet and Harvest Film, with sales agent ColorBird also on board as an investor. Omori’s credits include The Ravine Of Goodbye, which won the jury prize at the 2013 Moscow International Film Festival.
Contact: Yasushi Miyamae, Colorbird 

To The Ends Of The Earth (working title)

Dir Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Filmed in Uzbekistan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s drama tells the story of a young Japanese woman who finds her cautious and inward-looking nature tested when she travels to the Central Asian country to shoot a travel variety show. Atsuko Maeda, Ryo Kase and Shota Sometani head the cast of the film, which is co-produced by Japan’s Loaded Films and Tokyo Theatres with Uzbekistan’s national cinema agency Uzbekkino. Tokyo Theatres will handle Japanese distribution of the film, scheduled for June 14.
Contact: Fumiko Nagata, Free Stone Productions 

Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’

Dirs Kazuhiko Hiramaki, Takuya Kawasaki
Following the success of Tokyo Ghoul (2017), which was based on Sui Ishida’s bestselling manga about flesh-eating monsters, Shochiku has produced a sequel starring Masataka Kubota, Maika Yamamoto and Shota Matsuda. Kubota reprises his role as a college student who has become half-human, half-ghoul after being bitten by one of the creatures, and becomes the target of a gourmet hunter ghoul. The film is scheduled for Japanese release on July 19.
Contact: Shion Komatsu, Shochiku 

Tora-San, Welcome Back (working title)

Dir Yoji Yamada
An anniversary project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yoji Yamada’s beloved Tora-san series, this innovative feature is combining 4K digitally restored images of its late star, Kiyoshi Atsumi, with new footage filmed with the surviving cast. Launched in 1969, the Tora-san series starred Atsumi as a travelling salesman and resulted in 49 films over a 28-year period with the final one released in 1997, shortly after the actor’s death. Shochiku is planning to release this 50th instalment on December 27.
Contact: Shion Komatsu, Shochiku 

Toshimaen: Haunted Park

Dir Hiroshi Takahashi
Rie Kitahara (Sunny), Fujiko Kojima (This Old Road — Konomichi) and Nana Asakawa (Bloody Chainsaw Girl Returns) head the cast of this horror film about a group of friends who visit the amusement park where one of their gang died several years previously. Released theatrically in Japan in early May, the film is directed by Hiroshi Takahashi who has credits including J-horrors such as The Sylvian Experiments (2010) and also scripted Hideo Nakata’s Don’t Look Up and Ring.
Contact: Hakuhodo DY Music & Pictures