What's the best place on the planet for catching up on the entire range of contemporary Japanese cinema, from experimental shorts to commercial hits? My candidate is Nippon Connection, a festival in Frankfurt, Germany, whose 16th edition unspools May 24-29. Headed by festival director Miram Klomfass and organized by an all-volunteer team, the festival is presenting nearly 100 films over six days, and will also host other Japanese cultural events.
As a past seminar presenter and competition juror, I've seen the festival change and grow, while keeping the casual, intimate feeling of its student-event beginnings. This year, among those mingling in the crowd will be director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, winner of the Nippon Honor Award for career achievement. Kurosawa will also present his ghostly drama "Journey to the Shore," for which he won the best director prize in last year's Cannes Un Certain Regard.
Among other highlights are a section on animation headed by Keiichi Hara's vivid, pungent period biopic "Miss Hokusai," the complete screening of the 10-part manzai (comic duo) drama "Hibana" filmed for Netflix by veteran director Ryuichi Hiroki, a retrospective devoted to classic Japanese kaidan (ghost story) movies and a section of movies on the Fukushima disaster. And as always, the festival will feature its Nippon Cinema section of new Japanese films, with directors Isao Yukisada, Satoko Yokoyama and Rikiya Imaizumi in attendance, and its Nippon Visions section of indie and student films by up-and-coming filmmakers. Frankfurt yōkoso!
For details, visit bit.ly/nipponc.