Getting a Japanese film on the international festival circuit isn't as easy as it sounds — and even more so for "Ao no Ran," the latest film in the popular Geki×Cine series that fuses stage production with cinema.

A major perk of this series is that the cameras allow you to get so close to the performers that you can see the sweat running down their cheeks, something you'd only witness if you were sitting in the front row at the real performance.

For a long time, Japanese media watchers claimed stage productions could not be replicated in a movie. Then Geki×Cine came along and the verdict was changed: Films about local stage productions are nice for Japan, but could never become export items.

And now "Ao no Ran" is about debut at the Helsinki International Film Festival, which kicks off on Sept. 17. The festival is famed for its liberal, laid-back attitude — it's described by film-fest enthusiasts as the Scandinavian version of the South by Southwest festival, which is held in Austin, Texas.

One of this year's picks is "Youth,"which brings Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel together in a Swiss hotel room to diss life, love and hope. There's also Jacques Audiard's "Dheepan," about a man who escapes the civil war in Sri Lanka and finds work in Paris as a janitor.

To keep up with the company, "Ao no Ran" has English subtitles and a pared down, film-fest friendly structure. With megastars Yuki Amami and Kenichi Matsuyama leading the film, and plenty of sword action, it's the sort of Made in Japan product that deserves to travel. As the Japanese saying goes, "If you value a child, let them journey to see the world."