NYC's 'Japan Cuts' Screens 2 Films With Tezuka Ties & 3 Manga-Based Films
posted on by Egan Loo
Japan Cuts, the self-described largest festival of Japanese cinema in North America, will screen Eiichi Yamamoto's newly restored experimental film Belladonna of Sadness (Kanashimi no Belladonna), a film inspired by manga/anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka's last diary entry, and three manga-based live-action films.
The story of Belladonna of Sadness follows Jean (Katsutaka Ito) after she is assaulted by a local lord on her wedding night. Vowing revenge, she makes a deal with the Devil (Tatsuya Nakadai). The Devil transforms Jeanne into a black-robed manifestation of her madness and desire.
Japan Cuts will screen the 1973 film on July 10. Cinelicious Pics restored Belladonna of Sadness in 4K resolution from its original 35mm negative, with plans to release the film in theaters, home video, and on demand this year. The film has not been widely released in the United States before, although it was screened in Los Angeles in 2009 and at Montreal's Fantasia Fest in 2013.
The film was produced by Tezuka and directed by his long-time creative partner Eiichi Yamamoto (Star Blazers scriptwriter, Astro Boy: Hero of Space) at Mushi Productions. Masahiko Satoh (Grave of the Fireflies, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico) composed the film's soundtrack.
Pieta in the Toilet (Toile no Pieta) draws inspiration from a concept in Tezuka's diary. Just before passing away, Tezuka wrote in his diary:
I came up with a wonderful idea today! How does "Toile no Pieta" sound… A patient diagnosed with cancer thinks it is unreasonable to die without being able to do anything, so he starts to draw a picture on the ceiling of the hospital room's bathroom ... […] the Purification and the Ascension. This was the challenge to the world by the dying person!
Yōjirō Noda, the vocalist of the rock band RADWIMPS, made his acting debut in Daishi Matsunaga's 2015 film as the main character Hiroshi Sonoda. Japan Cuts will screen the film's North American premiere on July 14, and it describes the story:
Hiroshi is an introverted painter once full of promise. During his work as a window cleaner, he falls suddenly ill and the doctor requires him to bring a family member for his test results. Not wanting to involve his family, Hiroshi pays a headstrong highschooler Mai (Hana Sugisaki), who he meets in the waiting room, to play his sister. Told that his days are numbered, Hiroshi struggles with his fate while Mai asks him, “Shall we go die together, then?”
Katsumasa Enokiya's original Hibi Rock (Days Rock) manga revolves around Takurō Hibinuma, a third-year in high school. He is a boy who gets bullied, and has no talent in studying or sports, but the only thing he can call his own is "rock." He experiences many things through music, and aims to become a rock star.
Enokiya ran the manga in Shueisha's Young Jump magazine from 2010 until this past February. Shūhei Nomura stars as Takurō in the 2014 live-action film, and director Yū Irie will personally introduce the film's North American premiere on the festival's opening night, July 9.
Her Granddaughter (Otoko no Isshō or A Man's Lifetime) follows a young woman named Tsumugi (Nana Eikura) who is tired of city life and says she will never fall in love. She quits her job and moves into her late grandmother's rural home. She expects to live alone but finds a 52-year-old unmarried college professor, Jun (Etsushi Toyokawa), living in the house, and the two begin a strange life together. In spite of their age difference they gradually fall in love.
Japan Cuts will hold the North American premiere of A Farewell to Jinu (Jinu yo Saraba ~ Kamuroba Mura e) on July 17, and it describes the film's story:
Former bank clerk Takeharu (Ryuhei Matsuda in a raucous comic turn) thought he was strange when he moved to a remote village in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region after developing an inexplicable “money allergy.” However as he attempts to live a peaceful rural life without currency, Kamuroba village's bizarre characters draw him out of his shell in this increasingly surreal madcap comedy. However when a nearby town leader attempts to overthrow the handyman bus driver mayor, Takeharu must prove his attachment to Kamuroba and its people.
Mikio Igarashi's Kamurobamura-e (To Kamuroba Village) manga inspired the 2015 film. Suzuki Matsuo (Otakus in Love, Welcome to the Quiet Room) wrote and directed the film, his first collaboration with Matsuda since 2004's Koi no Mon.
Japan Cuts posted its full schedule for the July 9-19 event.