Twenty years of Japanese film in SA


The 20th Japanese Film Festival, which screened in October, was co-organised by
the Embassy of Japan in South Africa and the Japan Foundation. Five selected
movies screened at Cinema Nouveau cinemas in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban,
Johannesburg and Soweto.

“We’ve had very positive feedback from visitors every year,’ says Shota Nishijima,
cultural attache at the Embassy of Japan in Pretoria. “Last year, we also screened a
Japanese film in Lesotho to 1 000 people and it was received incredibly well.’

Nishijima mentions that the festival’s purpose is to promote an understanding of
Japanese culture, traditions and beliefs among South African audiences. He says it
encourages communication and interest in Japan as viewers are often curious to find
out more about the country after experiencing the screenings.

“We try to cover the diversity of Japan’s filmmaking industry at the festival. Although
anime and manga are very well-known and popular animation styles, the country has
a lot more to offer in terms of productions.

“Our aim is to showcase positive stories with which audiences can relate while being
exposed to a different culture. However, when they leave the cinema, after being
exposed to the Japanese lifestyle, they are inspired and delighted at what they’ve
witnessed,’ mentions Nishijima.

The 2013 screenings included the historical drama The Floating Castle, the drama
Hankyu Railway – A 15-minute Miracle, high school drama Swing Girls, the animation
The Place Promised in Our Early Days and the family drama Wanko – The Story of
Me, My Family and My Dog.

Most of the movies have received several international awards and were created by
some of Japan’s most esteemed filmmakers.

“We hope to continue this tradition of festivals, which is an imaginative and creative
interaction which reinforces an understanding between Japan and South Africa
through the uniting medium of film,’ concludes Nishijima.


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