Posted September 21, 2011 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Features

Japanese Events

If it was not for Japanese cinema, we would not have some of the largest grossing movies of all time. If it was not for Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, we may not have Star Wars.

If it was not for Japanese cinema, we would not have some of the largest grossing movies of all time. If it was not for Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, we may not have Star Wars. No Akira, no Matrix. You can catch some glimpses into the industry that sparked the making of some of the biggest films ever through a series of upcoming events selecting the weird, wonderful and influential crop of Japanese film.

It has been a turbulent year for this nation to say the least, and therefore the perfect time to celebrate the values and messages incorporated in their feature length exports. Leading a host of notable solutes to the eastern industry, The Barbican will, this November, be putting on Premiere Japan Festival for its seventh year in the capital. Presented by BAFTA and the Embassy of Japan, the programme will include the best and most up to date servings from the country, and although full details of the festival are yet to be announced previous showings include a just released Howl’s Moving Castle, Yôji Yamada’s samurai based The Hidden Blade and ISHII Sogo’s punk manga influenced Crazy Thunder Road etch a decent path for original stories and groundbreaking visuals. Fans of Studio Ghibli can also catch Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s latest, Arreitty, at the Barbican’s Family morning on September the 24th.

Enthusiasts of Japanese animation can indulge in a season of film for all ages, as Picturehouse cinemas host a variety of cartoons across the country on November the 26th. In an alarming contrast, the three central films to be exhibited are Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, based on the popular DS game and centring around the Professor’s quest for eternal life, Mardock Scramble,about a cyborg prostitute on the route of bloody redemption, and Tekken Blood Vengeance 3D, which comes from the same creators of Ghost In The Shell and Cowboy BeBop. is the place to post updates of the events and those similar taking place, and also provides links to Manga Entertainment and The Japan Foundation who regularly put together similar events.

The Raindance Film Festival is begins 28th Sept throughout central London, and will host the premiere of Kanseitou (Control Tower,) a film that was dreamt up when director Takahiro Miki first heard the song bearing the title by Japanese indie group Galileo Galilei. Set in the band’s hometown of Wakkanai, the film addresses two hopeless youths finding their place in music. The film airs on the 9th of October, and full details can be found here.

Eager not to carry on the theme in November, the ICA will be holding the second Zipangu Festival, boasting some of the best in contemporary and vintage Japanese cinema. Shirome will start the programme line up, a J horror mash up described intriguingly as “Blair Witch meets X Factor.” Lucky Dragon No 5 focuses on the nuclear explosion that inspired Godzilla, and Abraxas is about a punk turned Buddhist monk. Running from the 18th to the 23rd of November, tickets for all of the showings can be found by clicking here.

Right now you can pop over to the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury to see a rare showcase of early video work from Japan. Entitled Vital Signs and put together as a benefit for the Japanese Disaster Relief, the venue will show curated programmes of experimental cinema and classics to raise cultural awareness as well as a few quid to help out a nation that has fallen victim to one of the worst natural disasters in the last decade. The showings will run until the 22nd of September, and full details are here.

These are just a few insights into the cultural offering of Japan in the UK this season, and with constant celebrations of the nations best and most renowned filmmakers held at independent venues across the country there is plenty to look forward to from this groundbreaking industry.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.