JFF+ Independent Cinema 2023: Step into Japan


Introducing the current state of Japanese cinema culture with a focus on mini theaters,
starting on August 1

Duration: Today – 31 October 2023, 15:00 (Thailand time)

Languague: Japanese soundtrack with Thai, English, Spanish (Latin America), Indonesian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional) Subtitles

Streaming Fee: Free of charge (User registration required. Films not available for viewing in Japan.)

Streaming Source: https://jff.jpf.go.jp/watch/ic2023/

On August 1, 2023, the Japan Foundation will launch a special program called JFF+ Independent Cinema 2023 to shed light on the mini theaters that support the cinema culture of Japan.

The lineup of streamed films includes those recommended by mini theaters throughout Japan, as well as by international film critics and film festival directors. Videos that introduce each participating mini theater, their communities, and the feelings of their staff, will also be produced and streamed. Together these will introduce the current state of cinema culture and regional culture in Japan from multiple angles.

This project is a continuation of the streaming project JFF+ Independent Cinema carried out from December 15, 2022, through June 15, 2023. The previous project was accessed from over 150 countries and regions around the world, including Thailand, the U.S., Australia, and Mexico, attracting interest from viewers from a wide range of ages, from teenagers through to the elderly. The project received a great response, with many positive comments received from viewers, and some of the streamed works were covered by overseas media.

Film List

And Your Bird Can Sing (2018)
Genre Drama, Romantic
Directed by MIYAKE Sho, Selected by CINEMA IRIS

A youth drama film, based on the novel of the same title by SATO Yasushi, set in Hakodate. The story revolves around “Me”, who works at a bookstore and lives in a small flat with Shizuo, who is currently unemployed. Their coworker Sachiko had relations with “me” by an unexpected chance, starts visiting them almost every night, leading to the three of them spending time together.

Follow the Light (2021)
Genre Drama, Sci-fi
Directed by NARITA Yoichi, Selected by Cinema de Aeru

Upon his parents’ divorce, Akira, a second-year junior high school student, moved to Akita, his father’s hometown. Struggling to fit in at his new school, he witnesses a “green light” floating in the sky one day. Curiously following it, he finds his classmate, Maki, who has been absent from school, lying in a mysterious crop circle that appeared in a rice field.

Genre Drama
Directed by SAKON Keitaro, Selected by Cinekoya

A brazen and ruthless heroine who stops at nothing to achieve her goals. After hearing of her mother’s passing, she returns to her hometown and proposes selling the family-owned shop to fulfill her own ambitions. Furthermore, she embarks on a plan to make her family members self-sufficient.

An Artisan’s Legacy, Tsunekazu Nishioka (2012)
Genre Documentary
Directed by YAMAZAKI Yuji, Selected by fukaya cinema

A documentary that follows the life of NISHIOKA Tsunekazu, known as the last “miyadaiku” (master carpenter specializing in temple construction), who undertook the reconstruction of the three-tier pagoda of Horinji, the Kondo and West Pagoda of Yakushiji, passing down the architectural techniques of ancient temples from the Asuka period to future generations. Through archival footage and interviews with people closely related to him, the documentary explores NISHIOKA’s thoughts and aspirations.

Hey! Our dear Don-chan
Genre Drama, Comedy
Directed by OKITA Shuichi, Selected by Ueda Eigeki

One day, in the house where struggling actors Michio, Gunji, and Enoken live together, they discover a letter from Enoken’s ex-girlfriend, along with a baby girl sleeping peacefully in a stroller. They decide to name the child “Don-chan”, and despite their confusion, embark on the journey of parenting, raising her together.

A Muse Never Drowns (2022)
Genre Drama, Romantic
Directed by ASAO Nozomi, Selected by Motomachi Movie Theater

A member of the art club called Sakuko accidentally falls into the sea while sketching a boat. While her classmate Saibara captures her misfortune in a painting and wins an award at a contest, leading the painting to be displayed at school. Frustrated by this, Sakuko gives up on her own painting and ventures into new creative endeavors. However, Saibara asks her to model for another artwork.

A Girl in My Room (2022)
Genre Drama, Romantic
Directed by TAKAHASHI Natsuki, Selected by Cinema Onomichi

An adaptation of the manga of the same name by YAMAMOTO Chugaku into a live-action film. The story follows Yohei, who has just dumped by his girlfriend. Suddenly, a girl ghost appears in Yohei’s room. Initially, he tries to find a way to exorcise her, but gradually, he starts feeling comfortable spending time with her.

TENZO (2019)
Genre Documentary
Directed by TOMITA Katsuya, Selected by jig theater

An exceptional film blending documentary and fiction, exploring the significance and existence of Buddhism after the “3.11” Great East Japan Earthquake. The story follows Chiken, who lives with his family at a temple in Yamanashi after training at a mountain temple. On the other hand, his older disciple, Ryugyo, lost everything in the tsunami and cannot give up on rebuilding the main hall.

Genre Drama
Directed by OBAYASHI Nobuhiko, Selected by THEATER ENYA

Director OBAYASHI Nobuhiko adapted the eponymous short story by DAN Kazuo into a film, serving as the final installment of his “Anti-War Trilogy”. Set in the spring of 1941, the film revolves around 17-year-old Toshihiko, who seeks refuge with his aunt in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture. He spends his days going on adventures with his unique group of classmates, testing their courage.

BON-UTA, A Song from Home (2019)
Genre Documentary
Directed by NAKAE Yuji, Selected by Sakurazaka Theater

In 2015, four years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the people of Futaba Town in Fukushima Prefecture, forced to continue to live scattered in evacuation destinations, are concerned about the preservation of their traditional “Bon Uta”. However, during this difficult time, they find that the tradition of Bon Odori (Bon dance) has been inherited by people who had immigrated to Hawaii from Fukushima over 100 years ago.

Techno Brothers (2023)
Genre comedy, Music
Directed by WATANABE Hirobumi , Selected by Mark Schilling

In the Kanto plain, techno music played by the mysterious trio known as “Techno Brothers” reverberates. One day, with the cold-hearted manager, Himuro, they embark on a journey to Tokyo to pitch their music to a record company.

Bachiranun (2021)
Genre Drama
Directed by HIGASHIMORI Aika, Selected by Haochen Xu

“Bachiranun” is a word from Yonaguni Island, the westernmost point of Japan, in Okinawa Prefecture, which means “never forget”. In this film, a documentary capturing the everyday life, festivals, culture, and landscapes of the island intersects with a fantastical world inspired by flowers, fruits, bones, and rituals.

How to watch

  1. Go to website: https://jff.jpf.go.jp/watch/ic2023/films/
  2. Choose the film and click ‘Watch for Free’.
  3. Log in or register your user account.
  4. Enjoy the film!

About JFF+ Indenendent Cinema Film Program by Mini theater
In Japan, independent theaters that are not part of large multiplexes are called “mini-theaters,” and there are more than 100 of them throughout Japan. Each mini-theater offers a unique lineup of screenings with a focus on artistic films and documentaries, reflecting their local culture. They played an important role in nurturing the diversity of Japanese cinema culture up to the present.

List of 12 Mini theater who participate in this project;

  • CINEMA IRIS (Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido)
  • fukaya cinema (Fukaya-shi, Saitama)
  • Ueda Eigeki (Ueda-shi, Nagano)
  • jig theater (Tohaku-gun, Tottori)
  • THEATER ENYA (Karatsu-shi, Saga)
  • Cinema de Aeru (Miyako-shi, Iwate)
  • Cinekoya (Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa)
  • Motomachi Movie Theater (Kobe-shi, Hyogo)
  • Cinema Onomichi (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
  • Sakurazaka Theater (Naha, Okinawa)

About online streaming event: Japanese Film Festival Online
Japanese Film Festival Online (JFF Online) is an online Japanese film festival that streams a wide ranging lineup of Japanese films, including the latest releases, documentaries, anime, and classics. In the previous festival held in 2022, 20 Japanese films were streamed for free to 25 countries around the world with subtitles in over 10 languages. Preparations are currently ongoing for the next festival. Stay tuned for more information!

About on-site Japanese film festivals around the world: Japanese Film Festival
The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) screens the latest Japanese films at locations around the world. The festival was launched in 2016 for the 10 nations of ASEAN and Australia under the motto, “Japanese Films Anywhere, Anytime.” Since then, the festival has expanded to include China, Russia, India, and Brazil, and continues to spread the appeals of Japanese cinema to the world.

About The Japanese cinema website: JFF+
JFF+ is a website operated by the Japan Foundation to share information about Japanese cinema with the world. The site offers a variety of ways to learn about and interact with Japanese cinema, including special programs such as JFF+ Independent Cinema, JFF Online, articles on Japanese cinema, and cinema-related programs of the Japan Foundation.

About Host and organizer: The Japan Foundation
The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 as a special legal entity supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2003, it was reorganized as an incorporated administrative agency to cultivate friendship and ties between Japan and the world. The Japan Foundation creates global opportunities to foster friendship, trust, and mutual understanding through culture, language, and dialogue through its 25 offices in 24 countries.