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European film festival expands outside Tokyo

by Mike Hamilton

Staff Writer

After broadening the horizons of Japanese audiences for the past eight years, the EU Film Days festival is trying to broaden its audience.

The three-week event, organized by the Delegation of the European Union to Japan and the National Film Center, will expand to five new cities outside Tokyo: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi and Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture.

This year will also see one of the biggest lineups, with 22 films from 23 EU member states. The busy schedule will see two or three screenings a day, with each film being shown at least twice.

Films being shown include Woody Allen’s film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” starring Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz, which was partly filmed in Spain. Other selected films include award-winning Bulgarian film “Eastern Plays” by Kamen Kalev, which focuses on racial tensions in that country, and a beautifully shot BBC wildlife documentary titled “Earth.”

The breadth and variety of the films on offer this year truly shows the distinctive and diverse qualities of filmmakers on the European continent. Such films rarely have the commercial viability of their American counterparts to be widely released overseas, and those that make it to Japan rarely get shown outside of Tokyo. While this expanded event will obviously allow a wider audience to enjoy the talents of European filmmaking, it will also let Japanese audiences become more aware of foreign films that don’t necessarily fit the Hollywood blockbuster mold.

EU Film Days takes place May 27-June 19. Films will be shown at the National Film Center in Tokyo, Doshisha University in Kyoto, the Cinematographic and Audio-Visual Library in Hiroshima, the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art in Okayama, the Center for Arts and Media in Yamaguchi, and the Kagawa Prefecture Social Welfare Center, Community Hall in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. No screenings on Mondays. Ticket prices vary. For details, visit eufilmdays.jp.