5 Reasons You Need to Check Out the Shinsedai Cinema Festival (Kirk Haviland)

Shinsedai 2012 Festival Preview

Shinsedai Film Festival July 12-15th 2012 (Toronto)

The Revue Cinema – 400 Roncesvalles Ave (Just south of Dundas West TTC station)

In Japanese the phrase Shinsedai stands for “new generation” and it is this declaration that festival creators/programmers Chris Magee and Jasper Sharp live by when setting this festival in motion. Dedicated to bringing the newest in independent Japanese films to Toronto film fans, Shinsedai’s 4th year of programming starts this Thursday bringing an eclectic mix of titles for fans to discover. Like my TKFF preview I will give you my 5 reasons for making sure not to miss this year’s fest.

5. Location, Location, Location

After toiling its wares out in Richmond Hill at the JCCC for the last 3 years, Shinsedai will finally make its debut in the west end of Toronto at the Revue Cinema. The Revue’s location, a mere minute walk from Dundas West subway station, makes it extremely more accessible than previous incarnations of the fest. The friendly staff and comfortable surrounding and seating afforded by the Revue will make those four film marathons on Saturday and Sunday pass by like a breeze.

4. Guest Filmmakers in Attendance

This year Shinsedai welcome four of the filmmakers from their lineup to Toronto to show their films at the festival. Yu Irie will be here for his festival opening film, the semi-biographical film Ringing in their Ears (more later on this), Daisuke Miyazaki with End of the Night, and Kotaro Terauchi whose short Mrs. Akko and her husband will play as part of the Yubari Fanta showcase. Last, but definitely not least, the mastermind behind the Takeshi Miike films Ichi the Killer and Gozu, writer/director Sakichi Sato, will be in town with his latest opus Zero Man vs the Half Virgin. A unique opportunity to meet these fantastic filmmakers in such an intimate venue.

3. Friday July 13th Programming

The Friday of the fest bring us two very eclectic films that should prove to be quite a fascinating double-bill. We start with the 1938 film The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen, one of the earliest examples of horror on film from Japan and a fascinating look at the way films were made in Japan as war loomed on the horizon, and years later the bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our second feature is the previously mentioned Zero Man vs Half Virgin, a delightfully twisted sex comedy using the premise behind the film The Frighteners with the numbers appearing on foreheads of characters, but for a vastly different reason.

2. Opening and Closing Films

For the opening and closing efforts programmers Chris MaGee and Jasper Sharp have picked two equally intriguing but different films. Ringing in their Ears is the story of Japanese band Shinsei Kamattechan as told through live concert footage and a fictionalized surrounding story of one of their fans. The concert footage looks to be enthralling. For closing night we get Tentsuki, a mind trip about a factory worker who sees something that forces him into hiding and all the bizarre characters he meets there. I’ve been told that Miike’s Gozu is the level of strangeness I should be expecting from this one.

1. Pink Film Double Bill – Battle Girls and Bondage

Now this truly is a rare opportunity. Back in 1997 I was briefly introduced to this whole side of Japanese filmmaking while attending the only Toronto based edition to ever take place of Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival at the Bloor Cinema. It was here that I saw A Wife to be Sacrificed. Not a Pink film by definition, mainly due to its almost 2 hour running time, it is considered a classic and heavy influence on the pink films that followed. Now you may think Pink Films are Porn but they are most definitely not and while Japan does have a very thriving porn industry, Pink films have plotlines and stories told in one hour time segments that have character development and tell complete stories – just with a healthy dose of sex and kink. Think of movies like 9 ½ Weeks and Wild Orchid with, dare I say, less restrictions on their sexual content and context. The amount of directors who thrived in this industry prior to global success is numerous, some of which now have Oscar nominations under their belt.

Tickets are still available.

I’ll see you at the Revue!

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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