JAPAN CUTS AT 10: A Note from the Programmers

This summer, as with every JAPAN CUTS, we strove to provide an exciting and thought-provoking selection of films that represents the rich diversity of contemporary Japanese cinema, introducing emerging new talents alongside the latest by revered directors and festival favorites. Given this platform of the largest festival of its kind in North America, our intention is to challenge and expand the idea of what constitutes a Japanese film while also satisfying the broad spectrum of tastes that belong to the dedicated fans who attend every year. On the occasion of the festival’s 10th anniversary, we push this approach a little further by focusing on Japanese cinema’s recent past and its potential future.

Taking note of the impressive number of veteran, game-changing filmmakers included in this year’s dynamic FEATURE SLATE ranging from blockbusters to independents, our CLASSICS section reintroduces films that helped shape the landscape of contemporary Japanese cinema with  groundbreaking visions that are nevertheless underappreciated abroad. Take the rare opportunity to “flash back” to these seminal works (all on 35mm!) while also discovering their directors’ latest films. Continuing this line of thought about the past and future, we are introducing two new (free) events. Join an afternoon PANEL DISCUSSION with film industry professionals who will share their thoughts about the current state of Japanese cinema, both at home and abroad, as well as consider what has changed over the years (and why). In between screenings, catch a short film in the MICROCINEMA we have installed in the Murase Room, where a decade-spanning selection of shorts by up-and-coming filmmakers will be screening on loop.

Make sure to also check out this year’s expanded DOCUMENTARY FOCUS and EXPERIMENTAL SPOTLIGHT sections. Venture out of the mainstream to discover new work by some of Japan’s most vital and interesting nonfiction and avant-garde practitioners. Our documentary lineup has a special focus on artists, offering powerful individual portraits that suggest larger implications about contemporary culture. Our experimental lineup is dedicated to animation, offering vibrant short-form alternatives to the ubiquitous anime for which Japan is so famous.

Since its founding in 2007, the festival has offered a unique window on contemporary Japanese cinema through its lineup, and a direct line to Japanese film culture through its invited filmmakers and stars, many of whom have gone on to earn fans amongst festival audiences all over the world. Broadening our impact, this year we have invited an unprecedented number of GUESTS to present their work, interacting with audiences through post-screening Q&As and parties with a level of access rare in Japan.

We are proud to share all of this and more with you this summer and look forward to celebrating the festival’s 10th anniversary together. Thank you for joining us—here’s to many more decades of great cinema at JAPAN CUTS!

—Aiko, Kazu and Joel

Past JAPAN CUTS Photos

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