IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) announced the full programme for the 2020-edition of the festival. On Friday 17 January at 20.00, the official ticket sale will start. IFFR’s 49th edition takes place from Wednesday 22 January to Sunday 2 February 2020.
Time to shine some light on the Japanese films that can be watched during this edition.
1. A Girl Missing
Film by drama filmmaker Koji Fukuda, who also directed the film Harmonium. Private nurse Ichiko feels almost like a member of the Oisho family. Not only does she care for the grandmother, but she also has a close friendship with the eldest granddaughter Motoko. Then one day Motoko’s younger sister Maki disappears and soon afterwards Ichiko’s nephew is accused of being her kidnapper, causing a rift between the Oisho family and Ichiko. As both her professional and private life suffer in the media spotlight, Ichiko feels the ground slipping away beneath her feet.
Screenings: Tuesday 28 January (with Q&A), Wednesday 29 January, Friday 31 January and Saturday 1 February.
Japanese title: よこがお (Yokogao)
2. Shell and Joint
Film debut of short-film maker Isamu Hirabayashi. Do people who try to kill themselves not want to live anymore? No, not at all, says the hotel employee in Shell and Joint, a woman who has made multiple attempts herself, including by jumping into a shark-infested sea. Deadly serious, she tells her colleague she blames it all on a bacteria that controls her mind. In this film, you will see various characters at a Japanese capsule hotel in a series of absurdist sketches. One moment puppetry insects philosophise about death, the next a bunch of men discuss erections in the sauna.
Screenings: Thursday 23 January (with Q&A), Friday 24 January (with Q&A) and Saturday 25 January (with Q&A).
3. Children of the Sea
An animated film directed by Ayumu Watanabe and produced by Eiko Tanaka, with animation production by Studio 4°C. Alienated from her direct surroundings, young teenager Ruka has always felt a connection to the sea. One sunny day at the aquarium where her father works, she meets two boys who were raised by manatees, Umi and Sora, and immediately clicks with them. While her summer holiday is unexpectedly transformed into a magical adventure occasioned by new friendships, strange things start happening in the ocean: whales appear in New York, animals disappear from the aquarium and a meteorite impact attracts all sea life.
Screenings: Friday 24 January, Wednesday 29 January, Friday 31 January and Saturday 1 February.
Japanese title: 海獣の子供 (Kaiju no kodomo)
Chiken, a young Buddhist monk from the Yamanashi region of Japan, has dedicated his life to serving the local community. For example, he teaches people about sustainable food consumption and mans a suicide helpline. In the meantime, his old friend Ryogyo – also a monk – is helping out in Fukushima, working on the reconstruction of the region hard hit by the tsunami of 2011, which devastated Ryogo’s temple and the lives of the inhabitants. The two monks face the socio-economic consequences of the recent past and wonder aloud what is the right way to carry on living. More than fifteen years after his debut Above the Clouds, in which Chiken also plays the lead role, filmmaker Katsuya Tomita returns to the same character in this docudrama that imperceptibly mixes fictional elements with real events and situations.
Screenings: Saturday 25 January, Sunday 26 January, Wednesday 29 January and Saturday 1 February.
5. Special Actors
A film by Shinichiro Ueda, known for the zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead. Goody two-shoes Kazuto wants to be an actor, yet an annoying affliction prevents this – he faints when he gets nervous. Every time things get tense, he squeezes his boob-shaped stress relief ball, usually to no avail. Just as Kazuto seems condemned to sad mundanity, he encounters his brother for the first time in years. Hiroki works for an agency with actors who are hired to act as a friend or family member and he thinks Kazuto would be perfect. They get the tricky assignment of saving a family-run inn from a fraudulent sect. On the day the sect celebrates the 8,396,825,800th birthday of its god, everything reaches a crazed, confusing apotheosis with apparitions and litres of fake blood.
Screenings: Monday 27 January (with Q&A), Tuesday 28 January (with Q&A), Friday 31 January and Saturday 1 February
Japanese title: スペシャルアクターズ (Supesharu akutazu)
A couple of special mentions for the films Mr. Jimmy, about Led Zeppelin superfan Akio Sakurai and Family Romance, LLC by Werner Herzog about how everything is available for hire. On the festival there will be also some attention paid to the upcoming European tour of Otoboke Beaver, through the screening of their latest music video.
With nearly 330,000 admissions and over 2,400 film professionals attending, IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) is one of the largest audience and industry-driven film festivals in the world, offering a high-quality line-up of fiction and documentary feature films, short films, exhibitions, performances, masterclasses and talks.IFFR actively supports new and adventurous filmmaking talent through numerous industry initiatives including co-production market CineMart, the Reality Check conference, the BoostNL initiative, the Hubert Bals Fund and Rotterdam Lab.