JAPAN HAS one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world. Its first films were screened in 1897 - only two years after the Lumière brothers made their famous screenings in Paris. Today the country is currently the third largest feature film producer.
To celebrate Japan’s contribution to film, the Galway Film Society, the Japanese Embassy, and access CINEMA, the resource organisation for regional film exhibition in Ireland, have organised the Japanese Film Festival 2009.
The festival takes place in the Town Hall Theatre on Friday October 30, Saturday October 31, and Sunday November 1. The festival aims to foster a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and society among Irish citizens and to strengthen the cultural ties between the two countries.
On Saturday 31 Ponyo (2008 ) will be shown at 2pm. This sweet, gentle, film is a delightful Japanese take on the classic Little Mermaid fable.
Ponyo is a unique little fish who escapes from her sorcerer father’s underwater home and is found by Sosuke, who lives on the top of a cliff in a small seaside village. Ponyo’s love for Sosuke makes her want to become human, but her desires carry all sorts of risks.
Kamikaze Girls (2004 ) will be shown at 4pm. An honest portrayal of teenage girls and their friendships, Kamikaze Girls is a glorious blend of kitsch, grit, humour, and uplift that borrows freely from various Japanese subcultures and films such as The Outsiders and Kill Bill to tell the picaresque story of an emotionally repressed teenager with an active fantasy life who learns to open herself up to friendship.
Three films will be shown on Sunday November 1.
The award winning comedy Shall We Dance? (1995 ) will be screened at 2pm. Each evening, from the train, a man sees a beautiful woman gazing out of the window of a ballroom dancing class, so one night he plucks up the courage to go in. He loves the dancing lessons, but will he get the girl?
A Stranger Of Mine (2004 ) will be shown at 4.30pm. Miyata has been abandoned by his girlfriend. Kanda is fed up with working as a private detective. Mafia boss Asai is having problems with his criminal organisation. As the film progresses, connections between these seemingly independent lives emerge.
The final film will be Departures (2008 ), the surprise winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It will be shown at 8.15pm.
A cellist named Daigo spent a fortune on a new cello for his now-defunct ensemble. As a result he has to get a new job so he find works with a company which caters to morticians who perform ‘encoffinments’ - highly stylised and meticulous ceremonies to prepare bodies for burial or cremation. It’s an industry which is taboo in Japan, but he can’t refuse the salary. He also can’t bear to tell his wife what he works at.
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777. For more information see www.accesscinema.ie