Japanese literature comes alive on the big screen

’Pale Moon,’ an adaptation of Kakuta Mitsuyo’s novel, ‘The Kirishimia Thing’ is one of the ‘litflicks’ at Eiga Sai Film Festival

’Pale Moon,’ an adaptation of Kakuta Mitsuyo’s novel, ‘The Kirishimia Thing’ is one of the ‘litflicks’ at Eiga Sai Film Festival

Adapting literature into cinema has been long practiced since the latter’s birth.

According to British TV and film history guide website screenonline.org.uk, the Lumière brothers demonstrated the first short one-shot film in 1895. Less than half a decade later, Herbert Beerbohm Tree produced the first-ever recorded adaptation of the great English poet Shakepeare’s King John in 1899.

“As the cinema matured, adaptations—of new and lesser-known works as well as popular or classic ones—remained a major source of film stories,” the history guide noted.

Henceforth, literary adaptations on big screen had never ceased. And as with the development of technology in moviemaking, the term for such genre has also seen a modernized version for its tech-savvy modern-day audience.

As such, from “literary and cinematic adaptations,” now come “litflicks” a word play on literature (lit) and movies (flicks).

 Director Masato Harada is set to come to the Philippines for a director’s talk

Director Masato Harada is set to come to the Philippines for a director’s talk

Litflicks will take center stage in this year’s Eiga Sai Japanese Film Festival, the 19th edition since its first run in 2007. Continuing a rich film tradition, the annual movie showcase will feature best-selling and classic fiction and non-fiction novels written by the most prolific Japanese writers.

Open free to the public, Eiga Sai has developed a strong following among local film buffs for almost two decades so much so that its original home in Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong has seen throngs of moviegoers lining up at its Cineplex year after year.

Come July 8 through the 17th, 12 Japanese literary adaptations will satiate a growing number of Filipino movie fans of productions from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Leading the lineup is director Masato Harada’s Kakekomi, a warm-hearted period film that follows the efforts of a novice doctor and playwright who falls into a whirlwind of events as he tries to help two women get out of their respective marriages. The movie is based on the novel Tokeiji Hanadayori by one of Japan’s greatest literary talents, Inoue Yasushi.

Kakekomi will be opening the festival and its director will be flying to the Philippines to give a talk and personally introduce his film on July 9 at Shang Cineplex.



Masato Harada also helms the cinematic adaptation of another Inoue Yasushi work—this time an autobiographical novel. Chronicle of My Mother traces the roots of the author’s feeling of abandonment after being separated from his parents at a young age, and how this has resonated for most of his adult life.

Moreover, Harada’s film The Emperor in August, an adaptation of Hando Kazutoshi’s non-fiction novel Nihon no Ichiban Nagal Hi: Ketteiban that reveals the anguish and deliberations of the Japanese who put their lives on the line to end the Pacific War and achieve peace, will be included in the film festival.

Another film included is Ken and Kazu from director Hiroshi Shoji who will also be in the country for a “director’s visit” on August 6 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the upcoming Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Other films in the festival include director Yamada Yoji’s The Little House from the prize-winning novel of the same title; Pale Moon, an adaptation of Kakuta Mitsuyo’s novel, The Kirishimia Thing; Flying Colors based on the non-fiction bestseller of the same title; The Great Passage based on the novel by Miura Shionl; and the animation The Boy and the Beast, based on an original screenplay by Studio Chizu and Hosoda Mamoru.

‘The Little House’

‘The Little House’

Not to be left out are August in Tokyo from young, upcoming filmmaker and established poet Nakagawa Ryutaro; Crossroads which was partly set up in the Philippines and also starts Filipina host/actress Alodia Gosengfiao; and Our Little Sister.

“I think the impact and power of the movies or films is tremendous and enormous. In films, people think and they feel something—anger, sympathy or empathy—towards characters,” Japan Foundation Manila Director Hiroaki Uesugi remarked at Eiga Sai’s press conference.

The director also noted that they hoped that through the film festival, Filipinos will have a deeper appreciation of Japan and their culture.

After the Shangri-La Cineplex run, the festival will proceed to Baguio, Davao and Cebu. Moreover, this year’s Eiga Sai is made more special with the 20th anniversary of Japan Foundation Manila and the 60th anniversary of the Japan-Philippines friendship.


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