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Wednesday, 27th May 2015
In Japan Entertainment News,

Japanese films do well at this year's Cannes Film Festival

The film industry in Japan has had notable successes in recent years, but in order to continue to develop it is important to gain the world's attention. One of the annual events when this can be achieved is the Cannes Film Festival and this year saw a number of Japanese movies perform well.

A total of seven films from Japan were selected to be screened at Cannes. Director Kore-eda Hirokazu returned with his latest work Our Little Sister, after his other piece, Like Father, Like Son won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2013.

The Un Certain Regard section, which runs alongside the more well-known Palme  d'Or, featured two Japanese films. While Kawase Naomi gained praise for AN, it was Kiyoshi Kurosawa who won the directing prize for Kishibe no Tabi, which translates as Journey to the Shore. The winning film is a supernatural drama about a grieving widow who is haunted by her dead husband. It received mixed reviews by critics, but managed to wow the judges at Cannes.

A screening of the new yakuza-vampire genre feast, Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld by Miike Takashi was held as part of the Directors' Fortnight programme. This was particularly memorable as the director appeared by video link dressed as a geisha before the film was played.

Japan was further represented in the Cannes Classics section with viewings of The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums, from 1939 and by Mizoguchi Kenji and Battles Without Honour and Humanity by Fukasaku Kinji.

Among the highlights for those attending Cannes is the Cinema de la Plage experience, which sees movies being screened on the beach. This year's guests were treated to Kurosawa Akira’s classic Ran in this iconic spot.

But it is not just Japanese films that have been featured at the festival this year, with creations produced outside of Japan starring the country's actors. Ken Watanabe performed alongside Matthew McConaughey in Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees. Meanwhile, Tsumabuki Satoshi starred in Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Palme d'Or contender The Assassin.

One of the reasons for so much success was an initiative known as the Japan Day Project, which set up the Japan Pavilion at the festival. This centrepiece showcased the country's movie credentials through various events and attractions, pulling in quite a crowd associated with the industry.

The highlight of the Pavilion's itinerary was a 104-minute showreel of 47 of the latest films to come out of Japan. This was the piece's premiere and featured excerpts from movies from no fewer than 25 different production companies.

Japan has one of the biggest and oldest film industries of any country in the world, with movies having been made in the nation since 1897. It makes up an important part of the country's creative identity and takes part in a wide range of genres. These include some that are universal, including horror and science fiction, but also those that are more specifically Japanese. The country's film industry is leading the way with the likes of anime, mecha and samurai cinema.

As well as those featured at this year's Cannes Film Festival, it is worth watching some classics. These may include Tokyo Story, Spirited Away and Seven Samurai.

Related news stories:
Tokyo film fest 'to go green' (25th September 2008)
Japanese directors up for Palme D'Or prize (8th May 2013)