Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Free Japanese Film Screenings at the Bloor Cinema, December 9 – 12

“Free” and “Screening” are the two sweetest words to a film lovers ears. For all the folks in Toronto, here is a wonderful chance to experience a little Japanese cinema absolutely free! The fun starts tomorrow night.

The Japan Foundation’s annual free film festival at the Bloor Cinema gives Canadians the opportunity to see critically-acclaimed, contemporary Japanese films that have not received a wide release in North America.

Ranging from The Battery, a youth baseball drama from Academy Award-winner Yojiro Takita (winner, Best Foreign Language Film in 2009 for Departures) to courtroom drama I Just Didn’t Do It, the heartwarming smash hit Always-Sunset on 3rd Street, and the surreal, darkly comic Memories of Matsuko, this festival offers a diverse sampling of Japanese popular cinema.

All films are screened in Japanese with English subtitles.

Thursday, December 9, 6:30 pm

I Just Didn’t Do It (Soredemo boku wa yattenai)
Dir. Masayuki Suo (Shall We Dance) 2006, 143 min, 14A
Starring: Ryo Kase, Asaka Seto, Kôji Yakusho
11 Japanese Academy Award nominations, 3 wins
Entry for Foreign Film Oscar

A young man, Teppei Kaneko, has been accused of groping a woman on a crowded train in Tokyo. He is arrested and forced to sign a false confession. If he chooses to fight the charges, he will be held for three weeks just for the investigation. If he is prosecuted, the case will take up to a year in court. An indictment of Japan’s troublingly labyrinthine legal system, in which defendants are often coerced into signing confessions and criminal cases go on for years, this film was Japan’s official 2007 submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards

Friday, December 10, 6:30 pm

Memories of Matsuko (Kiraware Matsuko no issho)
Dir. Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls) 2006, 130 min, 14A
Starring: Miki Nakatani , Eita, Yûsuke Iseya, Mikako Ichikawa
9 Japanese Academy Award nominations, 3 wins (Best Actress, Editing, Score)

While cleaning up the apartment of his deceased aunt Matsuko, Sho Kawajiri encounters many people and things that make him think about her strange, sad and, according to his father, meaningless life. Director Nakashima has created a visually stunning and colorful world filled with music and dance. However, this is not the utopia that musicals usually promise. Instead, Nakashima pursues the themes that he has often explored in his earlier films: the need, in a tragic and disappointing world, to dream, and the problems that such dreams can create

Saturday, December 11, 6:30 pm

Always- Sunset on Third St. (Always san-chome no yuhi)
Dir. Takashi Yamazaki, 2005, 133 min, PG
Starring: Hidetaka Yoshioka, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Koyuki
14 JAA nominations, 12 wins

The year is 1958. The government had declared in 1955 that the “postwar” period is over and Japan is starting a period of tremendous growth. Tokyo Tower is being built as a symbol of a recovered Japan, and not far from it, in the working-class area called shitamachi, people are trying their best to improve their lives. Based on a comic by Saigan Ryohei that began publication in 1974, Always rode the wave of a nostalgia boom for 1950s Japan and became a box-office hit.

Sunday, December 12, 4:00 pm

The Battery (Batteri)
Dir. Yojiro Takita (Departures) 2007, 118 min, PG
Starring: Kento Hayashi, Misako Renbutsu, Kenta Yamada, Akihiro Yarita

Takumi is a star pitcher of a junior baseball team, but his younger brother Seiha’s illness forces the family to go live with their grandfather. His grandfather, a legendary coach, refuses to teach Takumi how to pitch a curve ball, so Takumi trains by himself at a local shrine, where he is befriended by other baseball players. However, Takumi’s arrogance threatens his relationships with friends and family, as well as his promising baseball career. Director Yojiro Takita was the first Japanese director to win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, for 2008’s Departures.

All screenings are at the Bloor Cinema , 506 Bloor St. W., Toronto (Nearest TTC Station: Bathurst)
Free admission
No reservations required
Inquiries: or (416) 966-1600 x230


  1. I'm a huge fan of Japanese cinema. Unless I haven't been paying attention closely enough, I've never noticed a cinema in Montréal offer free screening festivals (with the exception of the outdoor screenings during the Festival International de Films de Montréal). Does this happen often in Toronto?

  2. @edgarchaput - As far as I know the Japanese Foundation tries to show a few free films each year. There are also a lot of Asian related film festivals (e.g. Reel Asian, Shinsedai, etc.) that feature Japanese films.

    Since you are a fan of Japanese cinema, I highly recommend you check out the Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow site: ( Chris is a Toronto blogger who covers all aspects of Japanese Cinema. He also runs the Shinsedai film festival here.

  3. Thanks a bundle for the link!

  4. Wow, I checked out the guy's web site. Incredibly well written, insightful, and tons of movies I think I'd love. Again, many thanks!

  5. @edgar - No problem. Glad you like the site. I refer to it weekly to see what Japanese films I should be keeping an eye out for.


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