A catch-up on news, views and reviews from the world of Japanese film:
- The Japan Academy awarded top honors to an LGBTQ-themed drama and its star, and the Tokyo International Film Festival has announced that its 34th edition will showcase more diversity. Mark Schilling asks: Could the wind of change be blowing the cobwebs off the sclerotic Japanese film industry?
- Industry gatekeepers have been resistant to the idea that an India-born director can make a Japanese film. With “Kontora,” Anshul Chauhan isn’t trying to endear himself to any of them. “Honestly, I thought nobody would watch this film, so I made it for myself,” he tells James Hadfield. In case you missed it, Schilling’s review is here.
- “As a triumph of single-mindedness over common sense, ‘Junk Head’ is pretty inspirational,” writes Hadfield. Takahide Hori spent seven years toiling on his debut feature, a stop-motion animation that follows a cyborg explorer on his journey through Earth’s catacombs to save what’s left of humanity from a mysterious virus. As mad as it sounds and then some.
- TV series “Signal” departs from the typical cop genre plot in that two members of its title cold case unit miraculously communicate across time with an officer from 2009 via battery-less walkie-talkies. The spinoff “Signal The Movie Cold Case Investigation Unit” may be gimmicky, but it delivers in the action department, writes Schilling.
- Given that it will be a while before theaters are back to normal, View from Osaka columnist Eric Johnston has a short list of films for readers interested in the Kansai region and classic cinema — among them, a 1980s martial arts actioner, a late-’80s star-packed Osaka yakuza flick and a 1950s journey through the region with two young American and Japanese pals.