Japan Society Announces Full Lineup for the 16th Annual JAPAN CUTS

Japan Society

( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) Japan Society Announces Full Lineup for the 16th Annual JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film

ENSPIRE Contributor: Wesley Tran

On June 20, 2023, Japan Society announced the full lineup of the 16th annual JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film. North America’s largest Japanese film festival will present two weeks of contemporary movies from July 26 to August 6. This year’s festival will present 29 films and mark the first entirely in-person JAPAN CUTS since 2019. This year’s festival spans 12 days and features 24 feature-length films, five short films across Feature Slate, Next Generation, and Short Film Spotlight sections, and a special tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto. There will be five International Premieres, 10 North American Premieres, seven U.S. Premieres, three East Coast Premieres, and three New York Premieres. Additionally, JAPAN CUTS will welcome six special guests and host two parties during the course of the festivities.

Some featured films will include, the opening film “The First Slam Dunk” directed by Takehiko Inoue, the centerpiece film “Under the Turquoise Sky” directed by KENTARO, and the closing film “The Three Sisters of Tenmasou Inn” directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. In addition, Japan Cuts will present acclaimed actor Yuya Yagira with this year’s CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film for his lead role in our centerpiece film. Yagira was the youngest-ever winner of the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his lead in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows and has since starred in over 50 films and television series ranging from commercial blockbusters to art house gems. He will receive the CUT ABOVE Award from JAPAN CUTS in honor of his diverse career and especially for his work in Under the Turquoise Sky. Both Yagira and KENTARO will make special appearances at the film’s premiere screening and encore presentation.

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Read more about the opening, closing, and centerpiece films below!

The opening film and the winner of the Japan Academy Film Prize for Best Animation of the Year, SLAM DUNK is a beloved manga that was serialized from 1990-1996 and has sold over 170 million copies globally. THE FIRST SLAM DUNK marks original manga creator Takehiko Inoue’s directorial debut and is the first new feature-length film from the iconic franchise in 33 years. The film follows Shohoku High School basketball team point guard Ryota Miyagi (Shugo Nakamura) as he takes the stage at the Inter-High School National Championship, and the pressure to challenge the reigning champions is on! Can Ryota and his teammates defeat the imposing Sannoh Kogyo High School? The film will be shown on Wednesday, July 26 at 7:00 pm followed by an opening night party.

As the centerpiece film and the winner of the FIPRESCI International Film Critics Award, UNDER THE TURQUOISE SKY is an international co-production bringing together a Japanese, Mongolian, French, Australian, and Chilean team. The film by director KENTARO follows the spoiled Takeshi (played by star Yuya Yagira) who is sent out to the Mongolian countryside by his wealthy grandfather (legendary actor and Butoh master Akaji Maro). Together with his Mongolian guide (Mongolian leading man Amra Baljinnyam), Takeshi’s travels lead to stunning vistas, profound mysteries, and personal growth. A lush road movie with touches of the surreal, Under the Turquoise Sky casts a spell with humblingly beautiful directing, acting, and cinematography. The August 4 screening at 7:00 pm will be followed by the Centerpiece Party and there will be another screening on August 5 at 3:30 pm.

Last but not least, the closing film THE THREE SISTERS OF TENMASOU INN. In this supernatural tearjerker adapted from the manga by Tsutomu Takahashi, the waystation between life and rebirth is a traditional Japanese ryokan by the sea called Tenmasou Inn. When Tamae (Non) arrives there after a car accident leaves her body in a coma, she is greeted by Nozomi (Yuko Oshima), the inn’s polite proprietress and laid-back Kanae (Mugi Kadowaki)—half-sisters that Tamae never knew she had. Despite protestations from the irascible matriarch Kyoko (Shinobu Terajima), the effervescent Tamae starts working at Tenmasou, taking time to process her liminal state while discovering the history she shares with her sisters, including their absent father.

Japan Society

Japan Society is a premier organization connecting Japanese arts, culture, business, and society with audiences in New York and around the world, committed to telling the story of Japan while strengthening connections within New York City and building new bridges beyond. At Japan Society, they are inspired by the Japanese concept of Kizuna (絆)–forging deep connections to bind people together. In over 100 years of work, they’ve inspired generations by establishing ourselves as pioneers in supporting international exchanges in arts and culture, business and policy, as well as education between Japan and the U.S. They strive to convene important conversations on topics that bind our two countries together, champion the next generation of innovative creators, promote mutual understanding and serve as a trusted guide for people everywhere who seek to more fully appreciate the rich complexities and abundance of Japan. Our future can only be enhanced by learning from our peers and engaging with our audiences, both near and far.

To learn more about Japan Society and JAPAN CUTS click here!

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