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2014 Japanese Film Festival Movies

The long awaited event for Malaysian Japanese fans is right around the corner as it finally reaches its 11th anniversary in Malaysia.

This time, the event will bring Japanese fans in Malaysia to a whole new level by screening 13 awesome Japanese movies for a total of 25 days in four states; Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.
The films will be screened at selected Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) across Malaysia.

If you haven’t decided what movies to catch, here’s some insight on the movies screened this year to help you decide!

Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi ni Naru)

The story is about a businessman, Ryota Nonomiya who discovers that the son that he has been raising for 6 years is not his biological son. He learns from the hospital that his real son was accidently switched with another child during his birth. Torn by the truth, Ryota must now decide whether he wants to take back his real son or keep the one that he has raised as his own.

Why should you watch this:  “Like Father, Like Son” won three notable awards; the Rogers People's Choice Award at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival, the Wuaki.TV Audience Award at the 2013 San Sebastián International Film Festival and the Jury Prize for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)

An animated film based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the chief engineer of Japanese fighter planes in World War II. Inspired by Italian aircraft designer Giovanni Battista Caproni, Jiro has always dreamed of flying and designing airplanes. However, due to his nearsighted-ness, Jiro is unable to become a pilot, so he decides to major in engineering and aims to become one of the most innovative and accomplished airplane designers in the world.

Why should you watch this:  “The Wind Rises” was the final film directed by filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki before his retirement. It was the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013 and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.

Rent-a-Cat (Rentaneko)

Sayoko has an odd occupation – she rents cats to lonely people. The reason she does this is to help lonely people fill the emptiness in their hearts. After losing her grandmother, Sayoko has been all alone, but she is not really alone. Every nook and cranny of her house is filled with cats. Every day, Sayoko walks along the river banks with a megaphone and operates her rent-a-cat business.

Why should you watch this:  The lead actress of “Rent-a-Cat”, Mikako Ichikawa won the award for Best Actress at the 24th Moscow International Film Festival and was given a Best New Talent award at the 2003 Yokohama Film Festival. Also if you are a cat person, this film will appeal to your emotional bond with animals.

Tug of War! (Tsuna Hiichatta!)

A business woman named Chiaki Nishikawa who works for the public relations department in Oita City was asked by the mayor of the city to form a female tug-of-war team to promote the city of Oita. As Chiaki recruits the member for her team, she encounters another problem; her mother’s workplace is forced to close. In order to solve the problem, Chiaki makes a deal with the mayor that if her team makes it to the national finals, the decision to close the centre will be revoked.

Why should you watch this:  Mao Inoue, the main character of “Tug of War” is an award-winning actress who won several awards including Best Actress in the 47th Television Drama Academy Awards and received a newcomer award at the 16th Hashida Awards for her performance. She is best known for her role in Japanese drama “Kids War” as Akane Imai and Makino Tsukushi in “Hana Yori Dango”.

Leaving on the 15th Spring (Tabidachi no Shima Uta - 15 no Haru)

There is no high school on Minamidaito Island, therefore, every teenager who turns 15 must leave the island to continue their education. Yuna Nakazoto who has lived on the island with her father for 14 years has only one year left before she leaves the island. While worried about her father, Yuna is curious about the outside world and feels an unease over her future.

Why should you watch this:  Yuna Nakazoto actress, Ayaka Miyokoshi is a model for the Japanese version of Seventeen magazine. She received the accolade for the Sponichi Grand Prix Newcomer Award for the 2012 Mainichi Film Awards.

Mourning Recipe (Shijuukunichi no Reshipi)

Based on Yuki Ibuki’s novel by the same name. After the death of his wife, Otomi, Ryohei becomes depressed and loses the will to live. Two weeks after the death of his wife, a woman gives Ryohei the recipe book that Otomi left. Soon after that, Ryohei's daughter Yuriko who is facing a divorce comes to visit Ryouhei. The father and daughter must now learn to deal with their own problem through Otomi’s ‘recipe book for a happy life’.

Why should you watch this:  Veteran actor, Renji Ishibashi who played Ryohei in “Mourning Recipe” won best supporting actor awards for several films such as “Rounin-gai”, “A Good Husband", "Parade", "Strangers in the City", "Outrage" and "The Fallen Angel". This film is a must for foodie fans, even more so if you’re especially into Japanese cuisine!

Fly, Dakota, Fly! (Tobe! Dakota)

Based on a true story. In January 1946, a British military transport plane was forced to make an emergency landing on Sado Island. At first, the residents of the island have mixed feelings about the uninvited visitors. However, after a while, their spirits of compassion begin to takeover. An innkeeper’s daughter named Chiyoko Morimoto invites five of the British men in as guests in her inn and attempts to make them feel at home.

Why should you watch this:  “Fly, Dakota, Fly!” was filmed almost entirely on the Island of Sado over a period of nearly two years. Manami Higa who played Chiyoko Morimoto in the film received the Special Award for Dondo Bare at the 54th Television Drama Academy Awards.

Tokyo Oasis (Tokyo Oashisu)

Actress Touko from Tokyo leaves the filming set of her latest project and goes on a soul-searching journey. Along the journey, she encounters three people who changed her perspective on life; a midnight truck driver, Nagano, a movie theater manager, Kikuchi, and a young job seeker at the zoo, Yasuko. Together, the four of them discover the natural freedom and the sense of change taking place.

Why should you watch this:  The leading actress of the movie, Satomi Kobayashi won the award for best newcomer at the 4th Yokohama Film Festival and Best Supporting Actress in the 41st Television Drama Academy Awards.

The Round Table (Entaku)

Kokko is an 8-year-old girl who lives in a tiny apartment along with her family of eight; her father, mother, grandfather, grandmother and her triplet sisters. Every day, Kokko and her family will gather around a round table and have noisy meals together. As the youngest child in the family, Kokko is well-loved by everyone. However, Kokko is not happy with her life and wishes to be away from her family.

Why should you watch this:  The main actress of “The Round Table”, Ashida Mana is a famous Japanese child actress. She rose to fame after acting in the television drama “Mother” at the age of 4. She was the youngest leading actress in Japanese drama history and the youngest lead actress in a television serial drama. In year 2010 and 2011, she received a number of awards and nominations including Rookie of the Year, Best Newcomer, Best Supporting Actress, Special Award and Best Performance.

Initial D Legend 1: Awakening (Shin Gekijō-ban Inisharu Dī)

Takumi Fujiwara is a high school student who works as a gas station attendant during the day and a tofu delivery boy for his father during the night. Because of his precise driving skills and his father's modified Toyota Sprinter AE86 Trueno, Takumi becomes the best amateur road racer on Mt. Akina's highway. Due to this, other racers begin to challenge Takumi to a car race to see if he really has what it takes to be a road legend.

Why should you watch this:  The movie will be split into three parts with “Initial D Legend 1: Awakening” being the first part focusing on the battle against the Takahashi brothers. It will be a retelling of the first fifth of the original series, specifically the base rivalry between Takumi and Keisuke.

Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary (Seinto Seiya Rejendo Obu Sankuchuari)

A young girl named Saori Kido has always been troubled by her mysterious powers. One day, an unknown assassin tries to kill her but she is saved by Pegasus Seiya. Saori then learns that she is actually the reincarnation of the Goddess Athena and Seiya is one of her 88 Saints. After learning the truth about her destiny, Saori wages war against the Sanctuary’s Pope.

Why should you watch this:  The film is a spin-off of the 1986 animated series, “Saint Seiya” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the series. During the film’s debut, it has grossed JPY82 million in Japan landing on the fifth place at Box Office Mojo's chart.

Samurai Hustle (Chokosoku ! Sankin kotai)

The head of a small and poor clan in Northern Japan, Masaatsu Naito is ordered by the Shogun to come to the capital city of Edo with his people within five days. Unfortunately, the time needed for Masaatsu and his people to travel to Edo is 8 days and the cost of the journey is high. Nevertheless, Masaatsu plans an unexpected operation to complete Shogun’s task in five days.

Why should you watch this:  The screenplay of “Samurai Hustle” which was written by Akihiro Dobashi won the 37th Kido Award in 2011 and the award was handed by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan.

The Snow White Murder Case (Shiro Yuki Hime Satsujin Jiken)

After Noriko Miki, a worker at a cosmetics company was brutally murdered, another worker of the company named Miki Shirono becomes the prime suspect of the murder case. Soon after that, reporter Yuji Akahoshi decides to unravel the mystery of the murder case by interviewing various people including co-workers, family members, former classmates, and anyone related to Miki and Noriko for his tabloid television program.

Why should you watch this:  Twitch Film reviewed “The Snow White Murder Case” as ‘one of the most compelling crime thrillers to come out of Japan in the last few years’. On 27 April 2014, the film has grossed over USD8.6 million in Japan.

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