THE best of Japanese cinema is coming back to the Philippines. The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) makes its long-awaited return, rolling into theaters in Manila, Baguio, Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao starting February 2024.
Presented by the Japan Foundation, Manila, JFF was launched in 1997 and has grown to become one of the most anticipated film festivals in the country. Every year it attracts over 25,000 audiences, treating them to a variety of cinematic delights from drama, anime, romance, mystery, and everything in between.
“For this year’s selection, we decided on the theme, ‘Nostalgia,’” says festival director Yojiro Tanaka. “We chose films that will make our audience feel nostalgic and remember their own fond memories and feelings.”
The festival will showcase a range of Japanese films from various genres that are sure to cater to different tastes. This year's JFF lineup has something for everyone, and guarantees the satisfaction of cinephiles, drama devotees, and comedy connoisseurs alike.
This year’s opening film comes from the hit anime franchise, Slam Dunk, a 1990s favorite among Filipino fans of both anime and basketball. The First Slam Dunk (2022) is an animated sports film written and directed by Takehiko Inoue. On top of the amazing animation and heart-pounding basketball action, the film also resonates with heartfelt emotions.
The JFF lineup also includes the classic masterpiece, Tokyo Story (1953), by Japanese auteur, Yasujiro Ozu, as well as recently released movies such as And Yet, You Are So Sweet (2023) and Angry Son (2022). Audiences can also look forward to nostalgic titles with movie versions of Voltes V (1999 and 2023) and Detective Conan (1997 and 2006) making their way into the lineup.
Tanaka san also added, “We hope that the wide range of films will entertain long-time festival goers and those who are already fans of Japanese films. We also welcome newcomers to enjoy Japanese films and the Japanese Film Festival.”
Admission is free for all screenings. Guests can simply visit their preferred participating theaters and queue before each screening of their chosen movie. Seats will be on a first-come-first-serve basis.
JFF kicks off in Manila at the Shangri-La Red Carpet Cinema from February 1 to 11 and continues into the regions at SM Cinemas in Cebu, Baguio, Iloilo, and Davao. JFF screens at SM Seaside City Cebu from February 16 to 25, and at SM City Baguio, Iloilo, and Davao from February 23 to March 3.
The festival will also have a special run at the UPFI Film Center at the University of the Philippines-Diliman from February 22 to March 2.
JFF is also supported by the Film Development Council of the Philippines, JT International (Philippines) Inc., and the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.
For more information on the festival’s full film lineup, comprehensive movie synopses, and complete screening schedules, please visit www.JapaneseFilmFestPH.jfmo.org.ph or follow the Japan Foundation, Manila and JFF on social media. PR
Movie line-up synopsis
The First Slam Dunk (2022)
Running Time: 124 mins
Director: INOUE Takehiko
Starring: NAKAMURA Shugo, KASAMA Jun, KAMIO Shinichiro
KIMURA Subaru, MIYAKE Kenta
Shohoku's “speedster” and point guard, Ryota Miyagi, always plays with brains and lightning speed, running circles around his opponents while feigning composure.
Born and raised in Okinawa, Ryota had a brother who was three years older. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, who was a famous local player from a young age, Ryota also became addicted to basketball.
In his second year of high school, Ryota plays with the Shohoku High School basketball team along with Sakuragi, Rukawa, Akagi, and Mitsui as they take the stage at the Inter-High School National Championship.
And now, they are on the brink of challenging the reigning champions, Sannoh Kogyo High School.
Voltes V: The Liberation (1999)
Running Time: 104 mins
Director: NAGAHAMA Tadao
In the climactic conclusion of "Voltes V," the Voltes Team faces Prince Zardoz and his devastating weapon in a desperate gambit to overcome the overwhelming threat, putting their skills and the Volt Machines to the ultimate test. The showdown unfolds as they embark on a perilous mission. Emotions running high, the team combines the Volt Machines to form the Ultra Magnetic Voltes V robot to deliver a decisive blow against the Boazanian forces and Emperor Zambojil's ambition of inter-galactic conquest.
Voltes V: Legacy - The Cinematic Experience (2023)
Running Time: 121 min
Director: Marciano Reyes V
Starring: Miguel Tanfelix, Ysabel Ortega, Radson Flores, Raphael Landicho, Matt Lozano, Martin Del Rosario
Based on the popular 70’s Japanese anime, Voltes V: Legacy follows the story of three brothers, Steve, Big Bert, and Little Jon Armstrong. Together with their friends, Jamie Robinson and Mark Gordon, they pilot five vehicles that form the Ultra Electromagnetic Voltes V Super Robot and defend the Earth from the invading forces of the Boazanian Empire and their Beast Fighters.
Detective Conan The Movie: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper (1997)
Running Time: 95 min
Director: KODAMA Kenji
Starring: TAKAYAMA Minami, YAMAGUCHI Kappei, YAMAZAKI Wakana
Based on the original graphic novel "Meitantei Conan" by Gosho Aoyama, published by Shogakukan Inc.
Shinichi used to be a high school detective until a dark organization turned him into a little boy. Now called Conan, he can’t reveal himself... not even when a bomber kidnaps his girlfriend! Time is ticking, there’s a wall between them, and Conan only has his phone. The heart-stopping first movie!
Detective Conan The Movie: The Private Eyes' Requiem (2006)
Running Time: 111 min
Director: YAMAMOTO Yasuichiro
Starring: TAKAYAMA Minami, KAMIYA Akira, HORIKAWA Ryo
Based on the original graphic novel "Meitantei Conan" by Gosho Aoyama, published by Shogakukan Inc.
Detective Conan faces his worst crisis yet in this 10th-anniversary feature film! Someone has figured out Conan’s real identity as Shinichi Kudo. Worse, he’s taken Conan’s friends hostage; in 12 hours, a bomb will kill them all. Can Conan solve the case, save his friends and keep his secret identity?
A Man (2022)
Drama / Mystery
Running Time: 121 min
Director: ISHIKAWA Kei
Starring: TSUMABUKI Satoshi, ANDO Sakura, KUBOTA Masataka
Does the truth really set you free?
Over four blissful years, Rie and her son shared a loving new life with her second husband, Daisuke. His sudden accidental death brings not only grief, but an unnerving discovery for the widow: the man she thought she knew was posing under someone else’s identity. In a startling dual narrative, the mystery around Mr. X unfolds beneath the hands of KIDO, the attorney handling the case.
Prefaced by René Magritte’s surrealist painting Not to be Reproduced, this thought-provoking film is a vital addition to a growing genre of Japanese cinema that interrogates fragile morals permeating contemporary society.
And Yet, You Are So Sweet (2023)
Drama / Romance
Running Time: 99 min
Director: SHINJYO Takehiko
Starring: TAKAHASHI Kyohei, HATA Mei
One-sided love has never felt so good!
KISARAGI Maaya is in her second year of high school and has just been completely rejected by her crush. Heartbroken and mortified, she vows out loud to "never confess to someone ever again"... only to realize later that her high school’s heartthrob CHIGIRA Sui is within earshot! Upon hearing Maaya's weeping, CHIGIRA proposes a strange solution to heal her heartbreak – that she pretends to have a crush on him instead. When CHIGIRA starts treating Maaya sweetly, it isn't hard for her to keep up pretenses in this strictly one-sided love game... but as the pair grow closer, Maaya's feelings for CHIGIRA become undeniable. What will become of their “pretend crush” now?
We Made A Beautiful Bouquet (2021)
Drama / Romance
Running Time: 124 min
Director: DOI Nobuhiro
Starring: SUDA Masaki, ARIMURA Kasumi
Petals of young love on an upstream current The last train at midnight leaves a group of stragglers stranded at the station, who opt for a bar rather than paying for a taxi home. Among them are twenty-two-year-olds Mugi and Kinu, whose curiosity for one another is fated to have a lasting and more intricate outcome than initially expected. Caught in the period of youth when many enter the gruelling Japanese workforce, the pair live under the pressure of maintaining an income without compromising their creative passions. Patient and bittersweet, this romance chronicles the fleeting lifespan of love, as Mugi and Kinu reckon with the hard realities of societal life imposing on their relationship and senses of self.
Mondays: See You "This" Week! (2022)
Running Time: 82 min
Director: TAKEBAYASHI Ryo
Starring: MARUI Wan, MAKITA Sports, OSAMURA Koki, MIKAWA Yugo,
Manic Monday takes on a whole new meaning!
Working over night with colleagues, a head injury from a traffic accident, constant sleepiness on the job and a bird slamming itself into the office window... on top of a pressing deadline at her advertising job, YOSHIKAWA is having the worst week ever. As if her headache wasn’t bad enough, her coworkers ENDO and MURATA are going mad and claim the entire office is stuck in a time loop... but after a few rounds of reliving the same mundane Monday, YOSHIKAWA soon realizes they're telling the truth. Now the teammates must work together, enlighten their oblivious colleagues and find a way to end this endless Monday!
Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom (2023)
Running Time: 117 min
Director: WATANABE Kotono
Starring: KAKU Kento, HAMABE Minami, KAMIYA Hiroshi, GINGA Banjyo
Cats and dogs, deserts and trees: will these kingdoms ever get along?
Glistening with gold and water beneath the same sun, Alhamit and Baikari are two warring kingdoms that have come to a diplomatic agreement: Alhamit will gift their most beautiful woman and Baikari their cleverest man, to wed the nations into peace. But apparently, they are too stubborn to even honor such a simple deal, and trouble sparks when a dog and cat arrive in place of the promised bride and groom! In a strange twist of fate, however, Princess Sarah of Alhamit and Naranbayar of Baikari meet in the forest by chance, without realising who the other is...
Father Of The Milky Way Railroad (2023)
Running Time: 128 min
Director: NARUSHIMA Izuru
Starring: YAKUSHO Koji, SUDA Masaki, MORI Nana, TOYODA Yudai, SAKAI Maki, TANAKA Min
The story of one of Japan's most beloved authors and the father who always believed in him Directed by NARUSHIMA Izuru, this powerful biopic details the life of legendary poet and novelist MIYAZAWA Kenji, one of Japan's most beloved children's authors. As the eldest son of Masajiro, a wealthy pawnbroker, Kenji was raised with the expectation that he would one day inherit the family business. However, the free-spirited Kenji is determined to walk his own path in life, and takes it upon himself to pursue agricultural studies, synthetic gemstones and other eccentric ventures, despite his father’s bewilderment. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, this incredible story depicts the power of family and unconditional love that endures through times of hardship.
Tokyo Story (1953)
Running Time: 136 min
Director: OZU Yasujirou
Starring: HARA Setsuko, RYU Chishuu, HIGASHIYAMA Chieko
Shukichi (ChishuU Ryu) and Tomi (Chieko Higashiyama) set off on a trip to Tokyo, where two of their grown-up children live. The elderly couple have spent most of their lives in the small coastal town of Onomichi in Hiroshima, and hope their visit will be a memorable experience to cherish for the rest of their lives. However, once they arrive in the bustling metropolis, their eldest son and daughter prioritize maintaining their own lifestyles over spending quality time with their parents. Despite an initially amiable reception, Shukichi and Tomi sense an absence of sincere warmth, which makes them feel unwelcome and disappointed. They cut their stay short and return home. Before long, the son and daughter in Tokyo receive a telegram from their young sister Kyoko (Kyoko Kagawa) in Onomichi, informing them that their mother is critically ill.
Not Quite Dead Yet (2020)
Running Time: 93 min
Director: HAMASAKI Shinji
Starring: HIROSE Suzu, YOSHIZAWA Ryo, TSUTSUMI Shinichi
Angst-ridden college student, Nanase Nobata, lives with her father, Hakaru, president of the Nobata Pharmaceutical Company, resentful of his constant nagging about her life, and for being so absorbed in his work that he failed to be at her mother’s deathbed. Exhorting him daily to “Drop dead (once)!”, Hakaru finally does drop dead one day while developing a revolutionary “reverse aging” drug. Hakaru’s team had accidentally discovered a drug that causes temporary death, followed by full recovery in 2 days. Hakaru had been persuaded to take the drug in an attempt to expose a corporate spy planted in his company by a rival firm looking to merge with Nobata and capitalize on the anti-aging formula. When Hakaru drops dead, it sets the company in an uproar as his will names Nanase as the new president. A bewildered and distraught Nanase had no inkling of her father’s death but could see his ghost hanging around watching. She soon learns the truth about her father’s condition and the spy from Matsuoka, a young employee so unremarkably invisible to others that he’s nicknamed “Ghost.” Together with “Ghost Matsuoka” and the actual ghost of Hakaru, Nanase endeavors to prevent her father’s enemies from prematurely cremating his body before the drug can wear off and allow him to revive.
Angry Son (2022)
Running Time: 112 min
Director: IIZUKA Kasho
Starring: HORIKE Kazuki, GOW, SHINOHARA Masafumi, MURAYAMA Tomoka, IWAYA Kenji
Jungo (18), a high school student living in Ota City, Gunma Prefecture, has a Filipino mother who works at a Filipina hostess bar. His mother has never told him about his father, and the only connection he has to his father is the monthly child support payments. Jungo is gay and has a boyfriend, Yusuke (18). Even though Yusuke wanted to form a partnership with him, he was reluctant to do so because of his background. One day, her mother, Reina (41), brings her boyfriend home, saying she wants to remarry him. Jungo doesn‘t want to live with a stranger, so he decides to find his real father.