Japanese companies attend Filmart with a strong line-up of titles. Jason Gray highlights some of the most eye-catching productions.
A Record Of Sweet Murder
Dir Koji Shiraishi
Nikkatsu has been on a crime-driven roll with Devil’s Path and Japan-Indonesia co-production Killers. Now comes Japan-Korea collaboration A Record Of Sweet Murder (aka One Cut), directed by low-budget fear and gore maestro Koji Shiraishi (Grotesque). A socially conscious journalist (Kim Kkobbi) is contacted by an escaped serial killer (Yeon Je-wook), who happens to be her childhood friend. The killer requests an interview to be filmed in one shot while he tells the stories behind his numerous murders, including the ones still to be committed. Also stars Tsukasa Aoi and Ryotaro Yonemura. The film is a market premiere.
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Be My Baby
Dir Hitoshi One
Be My Baby unfolds in the two weeks following a house party attended by nine twenty-somethings, in this honest take on relationships in modern Japan. Hitoshi One directed popular romantic comedy Love Strikes!. This time he collaborates with veteran indie producer-director Masashi Yamamoto
(Three-Points) of Cinema Impact. It stars Kenta Niikura, Naoko Wakai and Chihiro Shibata, and screens as an international premiere in the festival and market.
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Dir Kazuhiro Soda
In Campaign 2, documentary film-maker Kazuhiro Soda returns to hangdog political candidate Kazuhiko Yamauchi, subject of the original Peabody-winning Campaign (2008). After several years raising his son, Yamauchi returns to politics to run for Kawasaki city council, this time without any backing or funds. With a campaign budget of less than $1,000, Yamauchi mounts an anti-nuclear platform directly after the March 11, 2011 tsunami disaster. In addition to other international prizes, Soda’s Mental and Peace were awarded humanitarian prizes in Hong Kong in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Campaign 2 screens as an international premiere.
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Dir Ayumi Sakamoto
Ayumi Sakamoto’s Forma [pictured] recently won the Fipresci award in Berlin’s Forum programme, with the jury praising its effective minimalism. The prize adds to the film’s laurels since its first win at last October’s Tokyo fest, where Hong Kong’s programmers pegged Forma for a potential slot. Saka-moto’s quietly gripping film will vie for another prize in the Young Cinema competition. Seller Free Stone Productions will also stage two market screenings for buyers interested in this can’t-look-away psychological suspense drama.
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The Little House
Dir Yoji Yamada
At last month’s Berlinale, Yoji Yamada’s period drama, The Little House, won a Silver Bear for best actress for Haruki Kuroki’s performance as a devoted young maid who grows conflicted over a secret liaison between her housewife employer and her husband’s younger colleague. The feature also stars Takako Matsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki and Chieko Baisho. Shochiku will continue sales of the film at Filmart.
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The Snow White Murder Case
Dir Yoshihiro Nakamura
This Shochiku-produced thriller set in the world of social media marks the third adaptation of author Kanae Minato’s contemporary novels, following Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Penance and Tetsuya Nakashima’s Confessions. Mao Inoue (The Eternal Zero) stars as a plain-Jane cosmetics company office worker suspected of killing and incinerating her beautiful colleague. Rumours about her guilt fly on Twitter and trash TV, affecting the investigation. Directed by in-demand talent Yoshihiro Nakamura (Golden Slumber), the film also stars Nanao, Go Ayano and Misako Renbutsu. The Snow White Murder Case screens as an international premiere following its local release on March 29.
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