TIFFCOM gives Japanese film producers and sales companies a home field advantage. And many of them make use of the event, on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Film Festival, to showcase their latest wares.
New Japanese films on offer at the market range from mainstream films set for wide local release to the latest works by acclaimed auteurs.
- Toei is high on “The Blood of Wolves,” an urban noir by Kazuya Shiraishi about cops and gangsters in 1988 Hiroshima, based on a bestselling novel by Yuko Yuzuki. Director of the 2013 dark thriller “The Devil’s Path,” which was widely screened abroad, Shiraishi has channeled Kinji Fukusaku’s classic yakuza series “Battles Without Honor or Humanity,” also set in Hiroshima.
- Nikkatsu is representing “The Living of Morikazu Kumagai, a biopic starring Tsutomu Yamazaki as Morikazu Kumagai, a famed 20th Century painter who spent most of his last 30 years in the confines of his tiny house and garden. The director is Shuichi Okita, best known for such quirky comedies as “The Woodsman and the Rain” (2013) and “The Mohican Comes Home” (2016). Veteran star Yamazaki was a favorite of Akira Kurosawa (“Heaven and Hell”) and Juzo Itami (“Tampopo”).
- Among Kadokawa’s new titles is “The Low Life,” a drama by Takahisa Zeze that is screening in the TIFF competition. Based on a novel by an adult video (AV) actress, the film profiles three women who find themselves working in the AV industry. Zeze himself long labored in the adult film ghetto, but has since emerged as a maker of major commercial films, including the 2016 two-part thriller “64.”
- Shochiku is introducing “Laughing Under the Clouds,” a live-action comic book adaptation about three brothers who are guardians of a sacred shrine — and who unite to save the country from a legendary giant serpent. Set at the end of the samurai era, this fantasy swashbuckler is directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro, maker of the mega-hit “Bayside Shakedown” cop thriller series.
- Asmik Ace is presenting “The Scythian Lamb,” a drama by award-winning auteur Daihachi Yoshida about six strangers who show up in a remote harbor town – and turn out to be convicted murders, released under a secret government program. Premiered at the recently ended Busan festival, the film is set for a 2018 release in Japan.
- Toho is offering “Godzilla,” the first animated feature based on the Godzilla series about the iconic fire-breathing beast and his fellow monsters. Co-directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita, the new film is the first in a planned trilogy that will stream on Netflix following its theatrical release in Japan this November.