The 38th Annual Japan Film Festival
Thursday, December 10, 2020 to Saturday, December 12, 2020
@ONLINE, admission free, registration required
One of the Canadian Film Institute’s longest-running annual festivals, the Japan Film Festival, has showcased the best in contemporary filmmaking from Japan. Despite the pandemic, this cinematic tradition continues online to film lovers all across Canada. Presented with the generous support of and in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan and The Japan Foundation, Toronto.
Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams
Directed by YAMAZAKI Ema Ryan
2019 | 94 min. | Japanese with English Subtitles
Mizutani Kantoku’s (head coach) whole life has been in preparation for the historic 100th Koshien, the wildly popular High School baseball tournament that defines the Japanese summer. A stubborn but passionate man, his martial brand of baseball in Yokohama maintains all that is beautiful, if extreme, in the uniquely Japanese form of the sport — rigorous year- round training, shaved heads, and self-sacrifice. The players believe in his message that their primary goal is to grow as human beings, so cleaning the grounds and keeping impeccable manners are as important as honing their skills.
However, beyond the company line, Mizutani boils with desire to validate his career by reaching the sacred grounds of Koshien. Having always prioritized his work over family responsibilities, he has never seen his 15 year-old son, Kosho, play baseball. Rather than take him onto his own team, calling on his well-earned web of connections, he sends Kosho away to be raised by a disciple Kantoku in the remote prefecture of Iwate. Sasaki Kantoku, though, has outgrown the ways of his mentor. After having raised Major Leaguers OHTANI Shohei and KIKUCHI Yusei, he has a progressive vision that proposes a new direction for the sport. Sasaki takes inspiration from bonsai — although wires are needed to guide young branches, those wires must be taken off at the right time. So too does modern baseball require a delicate balance between enforcement and autonomy for players.
Across Japan, four thousand schools begin knockout competition, with only one winner from each prefecture able to advance to Koshien. Will all of Mizutani’s good deeds add up to a miracle, or will he prove to be a relic of a bygone era? Can Sasaki, with Kosho in tow, challenge the system in a culture where the nail that sticks up is liable to be hammered down? In the crucible of the Japanese summer, the scoreboard will be their report card, and a referendum on their values.
The screening includes an interview between CFI Executive Director, Tom McSorley, and the film’s director, YAMAZAKI Ema Ryan.
The Long Goodbye 長いお別れ
Directed by NAKANO Ryota
2019 | 127 min. | Japanese with English Subtitles
Shohei is a retired school principal dealing with dementia whose escapades wreak havoc on his family. Despite their own individual agonies, his two daughters Mari and Fumi return home to take care of their father together with their mother Yoko as he faces Alzheimer’s disease. As Shohei’s memory gradually deteriorates, the family learns about an unexpected “recollection” that lives within him. In a long goodbye to their father, fond memories and forgotten hopes flow back into their lives.
A Long Goodbye is the film adaptation of Naoki Prize-winning author NAKAJIMA Kyoko’s same-named novel with NAKANO Ryota (Her Love Boils Bathwater, 2016) serving as director and screenplay writer. The film delivers a touching, and humorous depiction of seven years in the lives of a father diagnosed with dementia.
The screening includes a discussion about dementia with Kiyoshi Dembo of the Momiji Health Care Society (Toronto) with CFI Executive Director Tom McSorley and Program Officer at The Japan Foundation, Nobi Nakamura.
(c) 2019 “A Long Goodbye” Film Partners