Jun 25, 2019

From Jul. 3 to Aug. 25—yes, for 54 straight days—you can watch 17 full-length Japanese films for free in a number of cinemas all over the country.

In commemoration of Japan and the Philippines’ friendship month this year, the Japan Foundation is holding its annual Eigasai or the Japanese Film Festival in movie houses across nine cities: Tacloban (Robinson’s Movieworld), Naga (SM City Naga), Bacolod (SM City Bacolod), Davao (Abreeza Mall), Pangasinan (SM City Rosales), Cebu (Ayala Center Cebu), Mandaluyong (Red Carpet at the Shang), Pasay (Cultural Center of the Philippines), and Quezon City (UP Film Institute and Gateway Cineplex). Most of these are holding free screenings, except Shangri-la Plaza’s Red Carpet Cinema.

Now on its 22nd edition, Eigasai is featuring films that tackle a wide range of topics from samurai culture and family secrets to murder mysteries and gambling battles.

Leading the festival’s opening is Bernard Rose’s historical film Samurai Marathon (2019). The movie is based Aonkihiro Dobashi’s novel Bakumatsu Marathon Samurai which is about the Ansei Tooashi, the historical race deemed as Japan’s first marathon. It tells the story of samurais who were just running across mountain roads, training for the marathon but were mistaken as rebels by the central government, which later on dispatched assassins to kill them.

Tsutsumi Yukihiko’s mystery-drama titled The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps (2018), which is also based on a bestselling novel of the same name, will cap off the festival. That is after it tells the story of a troubled couple who have to make a decision whether to continue or end the life of their daughter who was declared clinically brain dead.

Specially screened at the UP Film Institute is Kore-eda Hirokazu’s family drama Shoplifters (2018), which is globally-acclaimed for bagging awards in prestigious film festivals such as Cannes Film Festival (where it received the Palme d’Or or the highest prize), Melbourne International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival, among many others. It features a non-biological “family” whose members solely rely on shoplifting to survive. Everything was easy and playful for them until their youngest member gets kidnapped. Exactly how much are they willing to sacrifice for someone not truly related to them?

The heartwarming collaboration of Japanese and Filipinos is shown in The Tears of Malumpati (2019) which is based on a true story of the Pandan Water Pipeline Project. Directed by Meguro Keita, the film tells the hardships of the settlers on Panay Island who have been suffering from kidney disease due to the lack of clean drinking water, resulting in the death of more than 1 million children.

Here are the 14 other films you should watch out for at the festival:

Yakiniku Dragon (2018)

Lying to Mom (2018)

After the Storm (2016)

The 8-year Engagement (2017)

The Crimes that Bind (2018)

Laughing Under the Clouds (2018)

Check out the film and cinema schedules for the festival here.


Header image is a screen capture of Samurai Marathon

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TAGS: arts culture Director eigasai Film Film Fest film festival japan japan festival Japanese Marathon movie