The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2023

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme returns to Showroom Cinema with eight new titles

by Ryan Finnigan, Senior Programmer

Starting from Sunday 5th Feb, The Japan Foundation Touring Programme returns to Showroom Cinema for 2023. Each year the season of films selected by The Japan Foundation brings an exciting line-up of Japanese cinema to Sheffield.

The programme theme for 2023 is ‘Always Evolving’, exploring where Japanese cinema has come from and where it’s going. The eight films we’re screening throughout February span the many facets of Japanese filmmaking, with something for film lovers of all types, including exclusive new film premieres and a handful of masterpieces from the distant past.

The season opens with new films and the UK premiere of Under the Open Sky, the controversial true story of a murderer’s rehabilitation back into society, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, Broker) protegee, Miwa Nishikawa. If dark and macabre films are your thing, then J-Horror master Tetsuya Nakashima brings the terrifying supernatural horror It Comes, based on the original novel of the same name.

Japanese cinema is not all shocks and thrills, of course. As a national cinema with a history of nuanced family dramas, another highlight of the season is What a Wonderful Family! from veteran director Yoji Yamada (Twilight Samurai). Tapping into the style of directors like Yasujiro Ozu and drawing comparisons to Tokyo Story, the film is a warm comedy-drama that follows elderly matriarch Tomiko, who serves her husband Shuzo divorce papers as a birthday gift, throwing their family into turmoil.

Japanese culture is unravelled further with two titles about manga (a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels) from two very different perspectives. Sensei, Would You Sit Beside Me? is a wickedly-funny comedy about manga writer Sawako, who suspects her husband is having an affair and incorporates it into her new book to creatively drop the hint. Later in the season, BL Metamorphosis is a gentle drama about a friendship between two women of different generations as they bond over a love of manga.

Finally, to dive into the history of Japanese cinema, 1934’s The Million Ryo Pot is one of few surviving works by Sadao Yamanaka. Brought into the present thanks to a new digital remaster, this is a rare chance to see Yamanaka’s work on the big screen. This is another example of how Japanese cinema, even from the past, is always evolving.

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme runs throughout February, with tickets on sale now.


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