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Nippon Connection 2012 – Preview on the Festival Program

Nippon Connection 2012 : the 12th Japanese Film Festival, Frankfurt am Main, will take place May 2 - 6, 2012  From May 2 to 6, 2012, Nippon Connection Film Festival, located in Frankfurt am Main, will present the whole spectrum of contemporary Japanese film for the twelfth time. Whether blockbuster or independent film, animation or documentary: numerous works will be presented as premieres with the film makers in attendance. The world’s largest festival of Japanese cinema invites its expected 16,000 visitors to enjoy its unique film program and to immerse into Japanese culture via workshops, lectures, discussions and other festival highlights.  One emphasis of this year’s festival will be film makers’ perspectives on the tsunami and nuclear crisis of March 2011, which has shaped not only Japan’s cultural life, but also views on this fascinating country. For example, Yoju MATSUBAYASHIs FUKUSHIMA: MEMORIES OF A LOST LANDSCAPE refers explicitly to the aftermath of the catastrophe. Immediately succeeding the incidents, he documented the situation in the evacuated zone and the individual fates of the residents. The emphasis on Fukushima will be supported by lectures in cooperation with the Department of Japanese Studies at Frankfurt University, as well as by an exhibition and a panel discussion. Even though many Japanese film productions had to deal with a number of problems resulting from the triple catastrophe of March 11, 2011, Nippon Connection has managed to provide an annual collection of films that is exceptional in terms of diversity and quality. This year, above all, already established film makers were able to attract new attention: In KOTOKO, cult director Shinya TSUKAMOTO (TETSUO) tells the story of a single mother who is plagued by delusions and fights for the right to raise her young son. The film has already been awarded with the Orrizonti prize in Venice. After having elated Nippon Connection with his opening film THE CHEF OF SOUTH POLAR in 2010, Shuichi OKITAs star-studded comedy THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN is bound to achieve another hit in 2012. Lumberjack Katsuo, played by Koji YAKUSHO (SHALL WE DANCE, BABEL), is surprised by a film crew wanting to shoot a zombie film in his forest. Nippon Connection is also happy to reveal that cult director Takashi MIIKE is part of the festival again. His masterly drama HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI, shown in Cannes in 2011, is a stunning remake of the Samurai classic by Masaki KOBAYASHI. Nobohiro YAMASHITA hits a political note in his new film MY BACK PAGE and observes the protest movement among students in Japan between 1968 and 1972. In his expressive drama MONSTER’S CLUB, Toshiaki TOYADA, one of Japan’s most talented auteurs, portrays a loner managing to provide for himself in a log cabin and sending out letter bombs to industry magnates. TOYODA was inspired by the manifest of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski. In reference to the growing protest movement in Japan after March 11, 2011, this year’s retrospective in the cinema venue of the German Film Museum is called “Visual Resistance: protest culture in Japanese documentary film”. NIPPON RETRO takes a look back and raises the question how far a documentary film can reach out and at what point pictures start to become political. A SUMMER IN NARITA (1968) by Shinsuke OGAWA and MINAMATA - THE VICTIMS AND THEIR WORLD (1971) by Noriaki TSUCHIMOTO are works by two of the most important Japanese documentary film makers and attendants of the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The contemporary documents of experimental film maker Motoharu JONOUCHI unfold a unique intensity by showing the student protests from the inside out. Some of the documentaries, like UNDERGROUND SQUARE by Keiya OUCHIDA, will be presented with subtitles for the first time. At this year’s festival, films will compete against each other in three different contests: The NIPPON CINEMA AWARD, sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler, will be awarded to the audience’s favorite premiere of the Nippon Cinema section (prize money: 2,000 Euros). The Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy of Tokyo (JVTA) will donate the NIPPON VISIONS AWARD for the third time, which will go to an up-and-coming director based on the decision of an international jury of experts. The winner receives a free subtitling for the next film. The VGF NIPPON IN MOTION AWARD is new in 2012: In cooperation with Frankfurt’s transportation association VGF, short films with a maximum length of 12 seconds focusing on the topic “Nippon in Motion” will be awarded. The three winning entries will be shown on the info screens of the Frankfurt subway as of April 18, 2012. Between March 5 and 31, 2012, the spots can be voted for at www.nipponconnection.com; the best film will be awarded with 250 Euros. In addition, the “16th Annual Movie Subtitling Contest” of the JVTA, starting March 16, 2012,   will be presented during the festival (further information: www.alc.co.jp/jimaku/). The contestants will have to subtitle a clip of one of Nippon Connection’s films. Prior to the awarding of the winner in June, first results are going to be discussed in a workshop with translator, producer and actor Christian Storms.  Not only the film program will open up new perspectives on Japan and its people. At NIPPON CULTURE, one can experience Japan with all senses. In a live reading, underground icon Jörg Buttgereit will present his new audio drama “The Beast of Fukushima” with an acting ensemble-for the first time on a German stage. Another highlight is going to be visible to the visitors throughout the entire festival: performance artist Kodama KOZUE will create a giant painting during a five-day live painting event at the festival center.    Next to lectures and other events revolving around Japanese animation film and contemporary art, numerous workshops and presentations will be offered. Till Weingärtner will present a Japanese version of sophisticated stand-up-comedy. His Rakugo-performance has already been awarded in Japan. As in previous years, parties, concerts, a karaoke bar as well as the festival’s gaming den will guarantee great entertainment and long festival nights. Shiatsu massages offer relaxation while a variety of dishes from the Japanese cuisine will provide the visitors of Nippon Connection with culinary highlights. In addition to the festival’s traditional program sections, NIPPON KIDS will be extended this year. In a cooking class, children between the ages of 6 and 12 are able to discover the types of food Japanese children take to school in so-called Bento-boxes. The childcare offers workshops in Origami as well as the opportunity to create an animated film. A film selection for children will of course also await the festival’s younger guests. Nippon Connection Film Festival is under the patronage of Eva Kühne-Hörmann, Hessian Minister for Science and the Arts, Prof. Dr. Dr. Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, Vice President of the Goethe University Frankfurt, and the General Consulate of Japan in Frankfurt. The festival is organized on a voluntary basis by the 50-strong team of the non-profit association Nippon Connection e.V. The complete program of the twelfth Japanese film festival Nippon Connection will be announced at the end of March on the festival’s website www.nipponconnection.com.

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