The Nippon Connection Japanese Film Festival enters its 22nd edition this year from May 24-29 in Frankfurt am Main. Visitors can expect about 100 colorful films and support programs with numerous workshops, concerts, and lectures providing a diverse impression of Japanese culture.
The film festival will once again be held live this year, but some films can also be viewed via video-on-demand.
Nippon Honor Award at Nippon Connection
The Nippon Honor Award will be presented for the sixth time at Nippon Connection. The award honors personalities who have made a special contribution to Japanese cinema.
This year’s winner is acclaimed actor Masatoshi Nagase, known for his gentle portrayal of withdrawn and torn characters since his first role in Shinji Somai’s PP Rider (1983).
Nagase has gained international recognition through films such as Mystery Train (1989), Paterson (2016) by Jim Jarmusch, and Cold Fever (1995) by Frederick Thor Fredrickson. He has worked with Japanese filmmakers such as Sion Sono, Gakuryu Ishii, and Yoji Yamada, as well as with director Naomi Kawase on several occasions.
He received the Best Actor Award at the 37th Yokohama Film Festival for his role in Kawase’s Cherry Blossoms and Red Beans (2015).
Several films starring Nagase will be shown in Germany at this year’s film festival, including Tatsushi Omori’s Under The Stars (2020), in which Nagase plays a family man belonging to a mystical sect.
In Keita Fujimoto’s Just The Two of Us (2020), he embodies a paralyzed person who finds new courage in life through a blind nurse. As a special screening, Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train will be shown as a 35mm version at DFF Cinemas – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum.
In addition to question-and-answer sessions after the film screenings, Masatoshi Nagase will also take a look at his career in a detailed discussion.
The award ceremony will take place on May 29, 2022 at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.
Declaring a love for cinema, yakuza gangs, and the art of animation
Last but not least, Nippon Connection celebrates its return to the big screen by declaring its love of cinema: Talking The Pictures (2019) by Masayuki Suo is a fast-paced comedy about silent Japanese film narrators (Benshi) at the start of the 20th century, at the Nippon Honor Award, considered To award-winning Masatoshi Nagase as a drunken villain.
Fans of genre films will love The Last of the Wolves (2021). Director Kazuya Shirashi takes audiences into the criminal underworld of Hiroshima in his thriller about the yakuza.
Several animation films, for which Japan has long enjoyed international fame, will also be shown at the festival. Masaaki Yuasa, best known for the bizarre masterpiece Mind Game (2004) and the Netflix series Devilman Crybaby (2018), returns to the cinema with Inu-Oh (2021): the story of two incompetent people who rose to fame through music and dance in feudal Japan, access and inspiration with the art of talented animation. A wonderful soundtrack.
Scores from the North (2021), the first feature film by Academy Award-nominated animator Koji Yamamura, will premiere in Germany. In it, Yamamura uses emojis to address the trauma that the triple disaster in March 2011 left in Japanese society.
Stories about growth
This year’s thematic focus of the Youth Stories Festival, funded by Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, provides insight into the living environment for young people in Japan and the various experiences and challenges they have to deal with.
Shoujo Kusano’s What You Love (2021) shows how difficult it is to appear in conservative Japanese society. In order not to attract attention, the young man pretends to love his classmate.
Director Yuya Ishii, who recently won a Japanese Academy Film Award, tells the story of a student: In A Madder Red, a boy faces the loss of his father against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time has to fight bullying in a combat situation.
Concerts, workshops and lectures
The Nippon Culture supporting program allows audiences to immerse themselves in Japanese culture – both on site in Frankfurt and online.
In addition to concerts with the famous koto player Karen Nakagawa and the German-Japanese duo “The Yamasakis”, various workshops on the topic of handicrafts will be presented.
Paula Nishikawara shows how to create art prints using real fish, and Michio Yamashita teaches Kintsuji: the art of repairing broken ceramics with gold-tone paint.
Anyone who wants to learn how to make a box of bento or Japanese sweets will get their money back. Ursula Grieve, translator of the novels of Haruki Murakami, provides insight into professional literary translation for Japanese professionals.
The program of the Nippon Kids department includes an online lecture on the daily life of children and youth in Japan and a manga drawing course.
The full program and tickets will be available on the NipponConnection.com festival homepage from mid-May 2022.
In addition to the festival centers in the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and the Willy Praml Theater in Naxoshalle, the DFF Cinema – German Film Institute and Film Museum, the Mal Seh’n Cinema and the International Theater will be among the venues in Frankfurt once again I main. For the first time, film screenings and events will take place at the Eldorado Arthouse Cinema and at the Bornheim Community Center.
After the festival, a portion of the film’s program will be shown from May 30 to June 6, 2022 under the title Nippon Connection On Demand on the festival’s broadcast platform Watch.NipponConnection.com.