‘’The Festival offers all the latest films out of Japan, films that aren’t more than 18 months old, films that will have their release in Japan right before the Festival starts; in terms of being able to access the latest Japanese screen content JFF is at the forefront.’’
Margarett Cortez sat down in the lead up to JFF’s opening night this Friday to discuss the landmark year for the Festival; inaugurated two decades ago in Sydney before it began to expand to other parts of Australia.
‘’I’m really looking forward to the audience and how they would react to the different films,’’ said Cortez. ‘’We’ve got quite a good mix of international film festival arthouse titles and also mainstream Japanese festival favourites, and some Directors from the previous Festival are returning with new works which is very exciting.’’
‘’One of the things I’m looking forward to is the special Sydney and Melbourne screenings of Godzilla, the original 1954 Japanese version. I don’t think the original 1954 version has been screened in cinemas in Australia based on records online at least; it will be really interesting to see it in black and white and on the big screen, it’s very timely as well with the new Godzilla coming out.’’
Also timely with the recent remake of the 1960s western classic The Magnificent Seven, based on iconic Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa’s feudal thriller The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Nine will also screen at the Festival.
‘’It’s a parody of The Magnificent Seven set in the samurai period but the heroes in The Magnificent Nine are the total opposite,’’ explains Cortez. ‘’They’re all merchants and commoners who live in an impoverished area and the town is very poor because of taxes from the lord who governs over the area and they want to get out of poverty, so they decide to lend money to the lord and then use the interest to boost the town’s profits.’’
‘’It’s such an outrageous story and even more outrageous for its actually being based on true events.’’
‘’We have already been touring in regional areas with free screenings of The Magnificent Nine,’’ said Cortez. ‘’We kicked off the regional tour in Hobart, we screened for the first time in Broken Hill and the Gold Coast, Townsville and we’re going to Darwin in November.’’
Opening in Canberra this Friday before travelling to Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, the Festival will screen a number of Australian premieres including A Bride for Rip Van Winkle.
‘’A Bride For Rip Van Winkle is one of our bigger titles this year,’’ said Cortez. ‘’It’s an arthouse favourite, we’re screening a Director’s cut, it ticks all the boxes, great cast, brilliant performers, the script is really solid and it’s just a visually delightful film with all the trademarks of Director Shunji Iwai.’’
Also having its Australian premiere at the Festival will be Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s crime drama Creepy.
‘’It’s one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve seen in a while,’’ said Cortez. ‘’It’s about an ex-detective who moves into a new neighbourhood, there was a very traumatic incident at work which is why he resigned from his job and took on stable work as a University professor. A former colleague approaches him with an unsolved missing persons case and while he was too busy with that he doesn’t recognize the warning signs around him that something really strange is going on in his neighbourhood.’’
‘’I hope that people who have a particular perception of what Japanese films are with this program will be able to expand their knowledge of Japanese film, and experience different types of films such as sci-fi films that Japanese filmmakers do really well.’’
The Japanese Film Festival is screening from October 14th to December 4th, 2016 around Australia