New York Japan CineFest 2021 – 20 short films / synopsis

[NYJCF 2021]
“Adarnia” (Dir. Clemhyn Escosora | 2021 | 10:33 | animation | Japan, Philippines)
Adarnia is a 3D CG animated sci-fi short film about the once utopian ancient city called Adarnia. Overthrown by a ruthless military leader, the now totalitarian state and its army of android soldiers find themselves interrupted by the sudden appearance of a mysterious intruder. These soldiers chase the masked biker from the well-guarded city to the uncharted outskirts of Adarnia, revealing the intruder’s true identity, purpose, and a glimpse into the deep history of Adarnia’s sci-fi world. *SSFF







“A Woman Who Acts” (Dir. Teruya Toshiyuki | 2020 | 18:30 | drama | Japan)
Akira is an old man nearing death, and Yoshiko is his beautiful young bride. She takes him outside of the hospital to enjoy quality time together. She also appears to take delight as he gets weaker and weaker. Exactly what are her true intentions? *SSFF

A Woman Who Acts






“Chinatown Beat” (Dir. Yuko Torihara | 2021 | 4:27 | documentary | USA)
A portrait of a New York artist, Henry Chang, a Chinatown-based detective novel writer and beloved community member. Henry the writer “performs” a monologue while walking down a dark and emp- ty Chinatown street revealing his artistic process, shedding light on the resilience of the people of Chinatown.

Chinatown Beat






“Corpse Candle” (Dir. Kazuhisa Eguchi | 2019 | 11:22 | drama, mystery | Japan)
One stormy night, monk Osho and apprentice Hoshin hear a suspicious noise coming from the main hall of their temple. The two of them must investigate in the pitch dark, relying on the light of a single wax candle. It is then that the terrified Hoshin learns, straight from the mouth of Osho, the truth about the shocking secret hidden in the wax…

Corpse Candle






“The Dawn of Kaiju Eiga” (Dir. Jonathan Bellés | 2019 | 50:48 | documentary | Spain)
In Japan, the atomic threat directly influenced the creation of Kaiju Eiga, Giant Monsters Movies. The first Kaiju Eiga film was 1954’s Godzilla.
Covering more than six decades, there have been several generations of filmmakers showing the monster in different ways and through different landscapes, being true to one golden rule: the relationship between Godzilla and the atomic bomb. But, what is the origin of this binomial relationship, and how has it evolved throughout its more than sixty years of history?

The Dawn of Kaiju Eiga






“Fa(r)ther” (Dir. Koji Yamamoto | 2020 | 14:21 | drama, remote | Japan)
May, 2020. The world was under lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic. A computer screen shows a young woman video-calling his father for the first time in years. This awkward conversation between father and daughter eventually reveals their tragic past that separated them. This face-to-face conversation gradually starts healing the same scar they share in their hearts so they can start moving on when the world has suddenly halted. This film was made without a cut in a single take, remotely shot without seeing each other.







“Horimono: Japan’s Tattoo Pilgrimage” (Dir. Kira Dane, David Caprara | 2020 | 17:00 | documentary | USA)
Japan has an uneasy relationship with tattoos, which have come to be associated with organized crime. Living amongst heavy stereotypes, a group of tattooed individuals practice a centuries-old pilgrimage to a mountain shrine, now one of the few places where the traditional full-body tattoo (“horimono”) can be shown and celebrated. Following the events of this never-before-filmed pilgrimage, this short documentary provides a fresh view on the cultural history of Japanese tattoos, and those who continue to choose to get them done.







“In the Shadow of the Pines” (Dir. Anne Koizumi | 2020 | 7:54 | stop-motion animation | Canada)
In the Shadow of the Pines is an animated short documentary about a difficult father-daughter relationship. Drawing on childhood memories, Anne Koizumi, the filmmaker, explores her upbringing with her Japanese immigrant dad, who was also the janitor at the elementary school she attended.
The film explores the idea of shame and how it can shape and define us while also concealing who we can truly become.








“Nanmin” (Dir. Adam Shaw | 2021 | 19:22 | documentary | USA)
Each year, thousands of refugees from around the world seek asylum in Japan, but only 0.1% of applicants are accepted. Nanmin portrays life as an asylum seeker in Japan, focusing on the secretive migrant detention centers and harsh parole system in interviews with activists, lawyers, and refugees.







“Otonashi” (Dir. Martin Georgic | 2021 | 10:00 | documentary | Germany)
“Painted in silence, a sparrow’s dream invokes timeless harmonies. In the heart of the universal geometry, the seed of calm is formed.”
Otonashi is a philosophical voyage through inner and outer experiences of the human existence – an audiovisual meditation of futuristic transmutations about the Japanese Hannya Shingyō.







“Ritsuko & Ken-chan” (Dir. Ayumi Omori | 2019 | 30:26 | drama | Japan)
The isolated island of Nagasaki, Kuroshima. The island of the cross (Cruz), where the lurking Kirishitan(Christian) used to be. Ritsuko and Ken-chan, who live a self-sufficient life here, have a secret. *AIWFF

Ritsuko _ Ken-chan






“Silence” (Dir. TJ O’Grady-Peyton | 2020 | 14:07 | drama | Japan)
A young man wanders around the city where people wearing masks come and go. He digests the excess energy by drawing graffiti. One day, he finds a girl dancing ballet in an abandoned building. Her dance is imprinted on his heart, and he becomes interested in dance and secretly begins practicing ballet. And, through the fact that a man plays ballet, he feels a difference in common sense between himself and the world. Gender issues that were unknowingly planted in common sense and rules are deep-rooted, and the young man and his father, who try to fill the gap, dare to remain silent.







“Toes Intertwined” (Dir. Yukinori Ishikawa | 2021 | 9:00 | drama | Japan)
The world of a 17-year-old girl has an ocean of possibility, yet they always love someone, break with friendships, have ups and downs repeatedly in their such small worlds. But there is some sense of justice and morals which we will all lose as we grow up. I wanted to try to visualize those beautiful senses and that emotional flow in this movie.

Toes Intertwined






“Yoshino Ringyo” (Dir. David Caprara | 2021 | 19:55 | documentary | USA)
Yoshino has been the breadbasket of Japan’s forestry for 500 years. Due to globalization and shifts in culture, however, the forestry industry has nearly collapsed and small villages are reliant on forestry are becoming ghost towns. This film explores the lives of Japanese foresters striving to keep this centuries-old tradition alive, determined not to be the village’s last.

Yoshino Ringyo






* In associated with
– SSFF: Short Shorts Film Festival (Tokyo)
– AIWFF: Aichi International Women’s Film Festival (Aichi)

[Retrospective: NYJCF 2012-2020]
“All Alone in Kamiyama” (Dir. Mile Nagaoka | 2017 | 30:01 | documentary | Japan)
Young urban creatives are drawn to Japan’s rural town of Kamiyama, known for its pristine nature, fast internet, and welcoming locals, but not everyone is wrapped up in this rural renaissance. This documentary records six years in the lonely life of the local hairdresser, the elderly Satchan. [NYJCF 2018]

All Alone in Kamiyama - NYJCF2018






“The Apologizers” Dir. Yasu Suzuki | 2018 | 20:36 | drama, comedy | USA
Two mysterious men wearing identical suits, coats and even glasses walk into a restaurant. Are they assassins? Secret government agents? The IRS? No, they are the Apologizers. You made some mistakes? A business deal is about to crash? Don’t worry. Call the Apologizers for big or small businesses, even domestic disputes. There is no place they will not go. They will show up with their ultimate sincerity and apologize from the bottom of their hearts……….. for you. [NYJCF 2018]

The Apologizers - NYJCF2018






“A Warm Spell” (Dir. Toshimichi Saito | 2014 | 40:00 | drama | Japan)
Naoki gave up his dream of painting to take over the family-run post office. His older brother, Masanobu, left home to become a doctor. When their mother’s funeral brings the two brothers together again, they are forced to confront their old conflicts and resentments. [NYJCF 2015]

A Warm Spell







“The 8th Samurai” (Dir. Justin Ambrosino | 2009 | 28:26 | drama | USA)
What if Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai originally were eight? A hard luck actor watches the opportunity of a lifetime slip through his fingers after being fired from a lead role that would have made him a household name… but he decides he’s not giving up without a fight. [NYJCF 2012]

The 8th Samurai







“Matou” (Dir. Isamu Hirabayashi | 2011 | 4:07 | animation experimental | Japan)
The cycle of life, in reverse. [NYJCF 2013]







“Take 8” (Dir. Shinichiro Ueda | 2015 | 19:39 | comedy | Japan)
Takao while shooting a new movie on the theme of marriage lover bride role of independent film director. However, the father role is vacancy suddenly…. [NYJCF 2016]

Clip #114