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Women’s Power at Nippon Connection Festival

Nippon Connection Festival
April 15-19, 2009, Frankfurt am Main

From April 15 to 19, the biggest festival for Japanese film worldwide, Nippon Connection in Frankfurt, will be showing for the ninth time young and creative cinema from Japan. Nippon Connection presents more than 150 short and long films, ranging from avantgarde to blockbusters, with many German, European or international premieres. More than 25 film makers from Japan will personally present their works to the audience. The festival will be topped off by an extraordinary cultural program, taking the visitors on a journey into the world of Japanese culture between tradition and cyber space.

This year at Nippon Connection, we are exceptionally pleased to present a remarkable number of female film makers. The Japanese film industry, formerly dominated by men, is gradually enriched by talented women. In the fields of directing, production and cinematography, the most interesting newcomers are often women. The shooting star among female directors, Yuki TANADA, will personally present her latest work AIN’T NO TOMORROWS. The film tells a sensitive story about young people’s first sexual temptations and experiences with a note of cutting and desperate humour. Yuki TANADA has already been at Nippon Connection in 2006 with MOON AND CHERRY, and besides her own films, she has written the script for SAKURAN. The presence of Yukie KITO is a real coup. As a producer, she will present TOKYO SONATA by Kiyoshi KUROSAWA, a film that has already been praised at the Cannes film festival. Yukie KITO has gained international fame with sophisticated J-horror films such as REINCARNATION. Her latest production is Jim Jarmusch’s LIMITS OF CONTROL. Additionally, we present PEACHES FILM FESTIVAL (Momo Matsuri) from Tokyo, founded by female graduates of Film School of Tokyo in 2006 with the motto “More credits for female directors”. In the field of animation films, women have also started to challenge male domination. In ANIMATION SOUP, an independent animation film collective, it is mainly women proving their abilities. Director Naomi NAGATA will be present for the screening, and the singer Futaba NAKAYAMA, famous in the Osaka music scene, will accompany the films with her sugar-sweet voice and sharp-witted lyrics. In the panel discussion „What’s up with the Women?”, we will deal with the question of how women take their stand in the male-dominated film industry of Japan and what difficulties they have to cope with.

Of course, male directors will also be presented at Nippon Connection. One great film event will be Sion SONO’s monumental LOVE EXPOSURE , which received the Caligari Award and the FIPRESCI Award at this year’s Berlinale. The eccentric and excessive love drama tells the story of a youth with a lust for life getting entangled in a web of sin and passion. The exceptional talent Kazuyoshi KUMAKIRI will present his latest film NON-KO as a German premiere at Nippon Connection. STILL WALKING by directing veteran Hirokazu KORE-EDA delicately deals with the topics of family and death and has received many international awards. Animation films are also a must for Nippon Connection. Young star Tatsuyuki TANAKA will present the two animation film compilations GENIUS PARTY and GENIUS PARTY BEYOND from the creative wizards of Studio 4°C, famous for such exceptional works as TEKKON KINKREET and MIND GAME. Another highlight for the fans of animation films with a special note will be Yoshiki YAMAKAWA’s HELLS, having the potential of becoming a cult film with its twisted characters and rousing soundtrack. Unfortunately, the screening of Shinya TSUKAMOTO’s film NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE 2 has to be cancelled. Instead, we will show the German premiere of Fumihiko SORI’s stylish sword-fighting drama ICHI. In this film, Zatoichi, one of the most famous samurai figures of Japanese film and television history, is portrayed by a woman, the Japanese star Haruka AYASE (Cyborg She).

For the fifth time, the Nippon Cinema Award of 2,000 Euros is sponsored by the Metzler banking house. After the festival in Frankfurt, part of the Nippon Digital program will go around the world as Nippon Connection Film Festival on Tour. We have scheduled screenings in Munich, New York and Barcelona, among others.

The retrospective Sexploitation & Experimentation: The Many Shades of Pink Film is dedicated to a special variant of Japanese erotic film, the “pink film” (pinku eiga). Many Japanese mainstream directors like Oscar-winning Yojiro TAKITA (DEPARTURES) have started their careers in this controversial genre. We will show films in a range from the sixties until today, putting a strong emphasis on the freedom of political expression and experimental aesthetics. As guests, we are proud to have pink film directors Rei SAKAMOTO and Mamoru WATANABE, as well as film experts Dr. Ronald Domenig (Vienna University) and Jasper Sharp (Midnight Eye/Behind the Pink Curtain).

However, Nippon Connection presents not only the latest trends of Japanese film. Nippon Culture invites you to experience Japanese culture with all your senses. The main feature „Sounds“ leads you to the sonic worlds of Japan. Atmospheric sound installations, entertaining radio plays and energetic taiko rhythms will provide many opportunities for new discoveries. A concert with a silent movie and a Japanese film narrator (benshi) commenting live on his own trash short films will explore the interplay of images on the screen and acoustic space.

With Nippon Connection, you can experience a lively cultural exchange in a variety of ways. Interactive live feeds from film makers and from the night life of Tokyo will turn the festival centre into a forum of virtual encounters. With the revival of the cult television program Late Lounge - Heimkino Reloaded, Roberto Cappelluti will give a strong comeback at Nippon Connection. Teamed up with author and splatter film director Jörg Buttgereit, the two will comment live and without mercy on a selected gem of Japanese trash cinema. Moreover, Nippon Culture gives you many opportunities to test yourselves and make a creative contribution to the festival: starting with the butoh workshop with internationally renowned butoh dancer Yuko KASEKI to an exclusive incense ceremony and a sushi workshop. The popular afternoon presentations of the Department for Japanese Studies at Frankfurt University will inform you about mobile entertainment technologies in Japan. The cultural program is topped off by the exhibition of contemporary Japanese video art body.space.time. and a video-dance performance at Galerie Station / Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, as well as lectures, interviews with film makers, karaoke, a tea lounge, a noodle soup bar and much more.

The legendary festival parties will give a chance to get funky. At the opening lounge, Roberto Cappelluti (Late Lounge, Strassenstars) and Jörg Buttgereit (author, director) will prove their skills at the turntables on Wednesday, April 15. On Friday, April 17, Japanese „Cheap Pop Queen“ KUMISOLO from Paris will enchant the audience with a concert of sugar-sweet sounds. And on Saturday, April 18, DJ Hito from Berlin and Yogi will rock the dance floor once more.

Nippon Connection is under the patronage of the Japanese General Consulate in Frankfurt and Prof. Dr. Dr. Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, vice president of Goethe-University, Frankfurt. The festival provides a unique overview on current Japanese film making and is highly popular with the general audience and experts. In 2008, more than 16,000 visitors attended our shows. The festival is still organized on a voluntary basis by Nippon Connection registered association.


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