The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival takes place from September 10th to the 20th and the line-up of films programmed has already been announced. Amidst the many films that are at the festival, there is a healthy selection from Asia with six Japanese productions and three international co-productions that involve Japanese talent in the pool.
Festival attendees will be more than aware that four of these titles have been on the festival circuit for most of the year since Journey to the Shore, An, Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld, and Our Little Sister are high profile films have that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in April. Of particular interest to any festival-goer with an interest in drama will be the Journey to the Shore, an award-winning film that scored its director Kiyoshi Kurosawa the Best Director prize when it screened at Cannes. It is a tale of a widowed piano teacher who is reunited with the spirit of her husband after an absence of many years. The two go on a physical as well as spiritual and psychological trip discovering where her husband went. The festival site describes the film as “a moving and enthralling work by a true master of contemporary cinema.”
There are a handful of brand new films that have had little to no exposure in the West such as The Whispering Star, a dystopian sci-fi film cooked up by Sion Sono for an art installation. The story involves a humanoid robot named Yoko (played by Sono’s wife, Megumi Kagurazaka) who pilots a spaceship shaped like a Japanese bungalow and travels the galaxy to give packages to humans in abandoned cities on remote planets. Shot in different locations in evacuated zones of Fukushima with non-professional actors who live in the area, the film presents ruminations on human nature but despite the dystopian label it is said to be playful and funny.
Arguably the most exciting title at the festival is the family friendly anime The Boy and the Beast, the latest anime from Mamoru Hosoda. The film follows on from Hosoda’s last feature The Wolf Children by blending the supernatural with the everyday in a story where a lonely and unhappy boy on the run from his family loses himself in Tokyo’s Shibuya district and finds a world inhabited by beasts. The Boy and the Beast has been a hit in Japan and it has already been licensed for distribution in Europe and America for 2016.
For more information on the festival and the films on offer, check out the festival site.