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Cool Japan Brings Hot Titles to FilMart

Japanese sellers come to FilMart with everything from art films to big-budget commercial pics.

Japanese sellers arrived at FilMart with everything from art films aimed at the international fest circuit to big-budget commercial pics.

Some are already on the buyers’ radar, such as Sion Sono’s highly anticipated “Tokyo Tribe,” which is being repped by Nikkatsu. Based on a best-selling comic series set in a near-future Tokyo, the pic focuses on street gangs, or “tribes,” roaming the urban wilderness.

Sono (pictured) has recently veered from such arty fare as the nuclear-disaster-themed “Himizu” (2013) and “The Land of Hope,” to the blood-soaked gangster shocker “Why Don’t You Play in Hell” (2013). The new pic promises to be of the latter type.

Also in the Nikkatsu lineup is Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s “My Man,” another film inspired by an earthquake and tsunami, but occurring in Hokkaido in 1993, not Tohoku in 2011. Fumi Nikaido stars as a girl who loses her parents in the disaster and is taken in by a single male relative (Tadanobu Asano). As she grows to adulthood, the nature of their relationship changes – and causes scandal. Asano is one of the few Japanese actors with a real international career, though he may want to forget his turn in the box office flop “47 Ronin,” while 19-year-old Nikaido already owns a shelf of acting awards, including one from Venice for her work in “Himizu.”

Toho’s slate includes “Parasyte,” a two-part action-thriller about an all-out war between humans and alien parasites who take up residence in their bodies, including the right arm of the film’s teenage hero. Director Takashi Yamazaki also made “The Eternal Zero,” a controversial WWII kamikaze pilot pic that has earned more than $80 million in Japan since its December release.

Shochiku has “Hot Road,” a teen drama based on a hit comic series about a 14-year-old girl who becomes alienated from her mother and takes up with a wild-at-heart biker.

Director Takahiro Miki has made a string of hit romantic dramas, including the 2012 two-parter “We Were There,” but media attention in Japan has been focused on star Rena Nonen. Last year, she shot to fame in the smash-hit NHK drama “Ama-chan” playing a withdrawn teen who moves from Tokyo to a struggling Northern fishing port and becomes an “ama,” a woman shell diver, with a new, brighter outlook on life. Nonen’s effervescent personality worked wonders for the show’s ratings, as well as her own career.

Whether or not she also charms Filmart buyers, there is plenty on offer from a country that, with 591 domestic films released last year, is still the region’s second-biggest film market, as well as one of its most diverse.

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