Annual film fest opens with relevant movie for PH audience
Japanese director Yuya Ishii and film producer Takuro Nagai gave Filipinos a more intimate perspective of Japanese families with the opening feature of this year’s “Eiga Sai” Japanese film festival. Simply titled, Our Family, the movie was specifically chosen with local cinemagoers in mind.
“I’m sure the Filipino audience can respond to this film’s appeal because family issues are thought to be the most important matters in the Philippines,” Japanese Embassy Consul General Tetsuro Amano explained before his special visitors personally presented their work for screening.
Mounted annually by Japan Foundation Manila (JFM), Eiga Sai is currently running at the Shangri-La Cineplex in Mandaluyong City through July 19.
Ishii and Nagai’s visit to Manila over the weekend was a success as they effectively presented a noteworthy film from one family-centric Asian country to another.
Our Family follows the struggle of suburban housewife Reiko and her family after she was diagnosed with brain tumor. In coping with her condition, deeply rooted problems the family had ignored for years surface—family problems, which according to the producer and the director are prevalent social issues in Japan.
“I’m quite interested in finding out how the Filipino audience would see the typical problems families in Japan face,” producer Takuro Nagai said through a translator before the film screening.
“Through this movie, I’m hoping that the audience would see a glimpse of how society is in Japan, how culture is in Japan,” Director Yuya Ishii added.
The film is based on Kazumasa Hayami’s semi-autobiographical novel, which Ishii thought to adapt after being able to relate to its true to life issues.
“One of the reasons that made me decide to do this movie is that there are a lot of parallel situations [between Reiko’s family and mine],” Ishii said in Japanese during the brief forum after the film showing.
“There are some feelings and issues I felt that were the same as the author’s, and I think there are a lot of people who can related to them like I did. I empathized with the main characters.”
Some of these issues, which resonated even with the Filipino audience, run the gamut of family debts passed on from one generation to the next, and adolescent problems. Specifically in Japan there is a rise in the number of teenagers diagnosed with a mental health problem called hikikomori or withdrawal from society.
Ishii further shared how ordinary Japanese families were able to identify with the scenes from the movie while they were filming in the outskirts of Tokyo.
“When you’re creating a movie, you’re creating fiction. But what was interesting about my experience was that when I went to a location to shoot a fictional scene, I noticed the people who live in that location were actually experiencing the same situations. So it’s not fiction anymore, it becomes real,” he shared.
Originally titled Bokutachi no kazoku, the film was first launched in May 2014 and has since participated in the 2014 Montreal Film Festival, 2014 Busan International Film Festival, 2014 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, 2015 Nippon Connection, and the 2015 Yokohama Film Festival where Sosuke Ikematsu (Shunpei) won Best Supporting Actor.
The director Ishii has highly prolific filmography. He is best known for The Great Passage (2013), which was chosen as Japan’s entry to the 86th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. The film also won and earned multiple Best Director awards and nominations.
JFM has dubbed this year’s Eiga Sai “Tasteful Japan,” to also highlight Japan’s colorful culinary world through films.
Our Family is part of the lineup of Japanese contemporary films. The other half of the 11 films feature plots that delve on delectable Japanese cuisine.
“This year’s well-curated lineup aptly called ‘Tasteful Japan’ revolves mainly around food and for good reason. Japan is known as a foodie’s paradise,” Shangri-La Plaza Vice President and General Manager Lala Fojas said.
Completing the year’s lineup are Wood Job! (Wood job Kamusari naa naa nichijo), Thermae Romae II (Terumae Romae II), Parasyte (Kiseijuu), A Tale of Samurai Cooking – A True Love Story (Bushi no kondate), Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime), Tada’s DoItAll House: Disconcerto (Mahoroekimae kyosokyoku), It’s a Beautiful Life – IRODORI (Jinsei irodori), PATISSERIE Coin de rue (Yougashiten koandoru), Washoku ~Beyond Sushi~ (WAShoku Dream) and The God of Ramen (Ramen yori taisetsuna mono).
Eiga Sai 2015 further caters to the family as all films are rated either G or PG. Admission is for free on a first come, first served basis.
For more information, visit jfmo.org.ph.