Japanese Film Festival Australia Complete Program Reveal! Here’s The Highlights!

jff hpp

The Japanese Film Festival (in Australia) has just announced their complete program for the annual event which runs from 17th October ~ 2nd December in Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne! 

We have already posted about their awesome free cinema sessions, and are delighted to give you the complete program, which includes one documentary and thirty features, outlined below!


Highlights for the festival are undoubtedly the following features, which have had successful festival runs and garnered praise from cinema goers and critics alike.

one cut of the dead japan film festival

Sydney and Melbourne will open with viral microbudget genre-bender One Cut of the Dead. Direct from sold-out screenings across Japan, this action-packed spectacle is a brilliantly-disguised low-budget, high-concept take on the zombie comedy genre. Flowing seamlessly from monster mayhem, to hilarious satire, into a family comedy-drama, Shinichiro Ueda’s debut follows a film crew shooting a zombie flick, during which they are attacked by real zombies.

OK, yes zombies are definitely played out by this stage, but from all feedback on the Twitters, it seems that One Cut of the Dead is creative and hilarious enough to tackle the worn horror trope.

river's edge

The edgy and erotic take centre stage in River’s Edge, with Festival guest Isao Yukisada introducing the film and engaging in an audience Q&A.

River’s Edge opened the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama Sidebar and is an arty angsty production based on a 90s manga aesthetic. These are the messy and emotional teenage years of riot and no reason, in this grungy and wild drama that is set in a 1994 Tokyo.

call boy

Call Boy (or Shonen) is a portrayal of female sexuality, navigated by a male prostitute searching for purpose. Moody and atmospheric, Call Boy places female desire and sexuality front and center, which is rare in current Japanese cinema. And while the film’s premise may sound heavy, don’t take it too seriously because director Daisuke Miura sure doesn’t. The result is a poignant and humorous, sometimes cheeky, drama that challenges popular perception and mocks convention.

Shockingly an R18+ film about sexuality from Japan, this is indeed a rare gem I am highly looking forward to.

the blood of wolves

A gritty cop thriller set in 1980s Hiroshima that is on the brink of a Yakuza turf war, The Blood of wolves is an ultra-stylish and visceral detective story filled with old school yakuza thrills and fresh twists.

You had me at ‘Yakuza’ to be honest.

The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine

Director Takahisa Zeze masterfully brings the explosive tail-end of the Taisho era (1923-1926) to life and delivers hard-hitting reality, infused with a good dose of humor and plenty of charm. Despite its 189-minute run-time, The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine is entertaining from start to finish

To some the thought of an 189 minute period drama, butt firmly planted in cinema seat, is a nightmare. I see the epic nature of this sprawling, wonderfully ambitious attempt to create a narrative out of an era, cannot wait.

Dynamite Graffiti

Dynamite Graffiti is a biopic about the legendary erotic magazine editor Akira Suei. It follows Suei (Tasuku Emoto) through his humble beginnings as a graphic design student, to his constant struggles against censorship in 70’s and 80’s Japan as a Pornographer legend.

Smut in Japan has always been a fascinating and integral component in their culture. This biopic which is probably stranger than fiction focuses not only on a major cult figure Akira Suei, but it does so in a way that explores the turbulence of Japan and the infamous pink period.

The Scythian Lamb

The Scythian Lamb is set in Uobuka; a small coastal city just like countless others that dot the Japanese coastline: the people are nice and the seafood is great. It does have its own peculiar festival—one to dispel Nororo, a mythical sea monster, but more concerning for the local government is its shrinking population. Uobuka city hall partakes in a confidential trial, wherein six convicts are given an early release on pseudo-parole in the city. They are provided housing and employment assistance, with locals oblivious. Civil servant Hajime Tsukisue (Ryo Nishikido) is tasked with resettling the newcomers and checking on their welfare. It doesn’t take long for other residents to realise something isn’t quite right, and then a body is found along the water…

This sounds like such a twist on the typical small village murder mystery trope, indeed intriguing enough to recommend, but you have to wonder how the festival plays into this story…


Shinya Tsukamoto delivers another cult classic in the making with Killing, a raw and visceral film which portrays samurai like they have never appeared in cinema before.

Depicting samurai like never before is a bold statement, and one that has me very excited!


Everything else!

the travelling cat chronicles hpp jff

The Festival in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth kicks off with romantic detective mystery DESTINY: The Tale of Kamakura, touted as the live-action version of the Ghibli classic Spirited Away. This modern fairy tale follows a writer into a netherworld of supernatural creatures to save his wife.

Rising star Shioli Kutsuna will attend the Festival to introduce Oh Lucy!, and engage in audience Q&As. Kutsuna stars in the full-length adaptation of director Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Sundance Short Film Jury Prize-winning short, about a lonely Japanese woman who awakens her alter ego in an English class.

Other program highlights include Yakiniku Dragon, based off Wui-Sin Chong’s award-winning 2008 play, the heart-warming story of resilience draws on Chong’s own experiences as a Korean-Japanese immigrant.

The Third Murder, a probing courtroom drama by master filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters); Love At Least, about a hypersomniac recluse and her boyfriend, whose lives are turned upside down by a scheming ex-girlfriend.

Tear-jerking drama The 8-Year Engagement, the viral true story of a man standing by his fiancée after a coma erases her memory; My Friend ‘A’, following a failed journalist uncovering his colleague’s murderous past.

Not to be missed is a delectable 4K restoration of iconic 1985 foodie classic Tampopo featuring the breakthrough role of Oscar-nominated actor Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai). Dubbed a “ramen Western,” the comedy explores the relationship between love and food through a truck driver who helps save a family’s run-down noodle shop.

Chihayafuru Musubi is an ultra bright comedy drama about a fast-paced card game; Detective Conan: Crimson Love Letter is yet another annual Conan film, a fun murder mystery that is also centered around the card game karuta.

The Crimes That Bind stars the always compelling Hiroshi Abe as an unconventional detective investigating a strange murder with no leads and a connection to a celebrity theater director.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles is based off the smash hit novel of the same name. Nana used to live the rough life of a stray cat, although, he had an adoring fan in a kind-hearted young man called Satoru (Sota Fukushi). After an almost fatal accident, Nana is rescued by Satoru, however, the good times don’t last and they must find a new home for Nana. Visiting Satoru’s friends one by one, they travel around Japan in search for a new family for Nana.

Color Me True follows a Director’s love for a silver screen siren, until she leaps into the real world! Goodbye, Grandpa! is a lovely bitter-sweet indie about dysfunctional families and introspective drama; Mixed Doubles is a revenge Rom-Com set in the world of competitive table tennis; Rainbow Days is a solid coming-of-ager that follows four high schoolers that derail each others love lives.

Ramen Shop is a delightful foodie drama that traces a chefs roots all the way to Singapore; Summer Blooms is a different slice of life, one that captures the everyday in a lovely way.

SUKITA / The Shoot Must Go On is the only documentary of the festival and details the life of photographer Masayoshi Sukita, a man David Bowie called a master.


Book your tickets right here! See japanesefilmfestival.net for ticketing details.