A late addition to the Nikkatsu lineup for FilMart is “First Gentleman,” a local co-production between Nikkatsu and Toei. Directed by Kawai Hayato (“Prince of Legend”) from a novel by Harada Maha, this comedy stars Nakatani Miki (“Sweet Little Lies”) as the leader of an opposition party in Japan’s parliament.
The plot moves into gear when her nerdy ornithologist husband (Tanaka Kei) goes on a birdwatching expedition to a remote island – and returns ten days later to find his wife the new prime minister. How he handles his unexpected status as “first gentlemen” becomes a source of laughs.
Women have run for Japan’s top political post before, but none have succeeded, so the film’s story is still a “what if.” But with the election of Kamala Harris as Vice President of the U.S., her lawyer husband Doug Emhoff has been in the media spotlight as the country’s first “second gentleman,” giving the film an indirect topical boost. The female leadership topic is doubly timely after the recent sexism and glass ceiling discussions following the ejection of Mori Yoshiro as chairman of Japan’s Olympic Games organizing committee. Release is set for the fall of 2021.
Also on the Nikkatsu lineup is “The Samejima Incident,” a horror directed by Nagae Jiro (“The Ghost Photo Club”) and starring Takeda Rena (“Poetry Angel”) as a woman who joins an online reunion of high school friends. But when one member ends up dead the others start to fear for their lives. The film was released in Japan in November of last year.
Among older titles are “Wife of a Spy,” a suspense drama that won Kurosawa Kiyoshi a best director prize at Venice last year, and Fukunaga Takeshi’s “Ainu Mosir,” the first film to focus on Japan’s indigenous Ainu community with an all-Ainu main cast.