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Japanese Film Festival 2005: Adaptations

What This year's festival features print-to-screen adaptations by directors such as Ichikawa Kon, Nomura Yoshitaro, Koizumi Takashi, and Ichikawa Jun. Adapted genres include crime fiction, manga, and samurai stories.
When 28 September 2005 (Wednesday) - 9 October 2005 (Sunday)
Where Singapore History Museum and Cathay Cineplex Orchard

Screenings at JAA*

Free Admission

Screenings at Cathay**

S$10 (Public)
S$9 (SFS members)

Screenings at SHM***

S$10 (Public)
S$9 (SFS members)

*       Queue numbers for JAA screenings, issued for current day sessions, are available on a first-come, first-served basis, from 7.30pm on weekdays and from 10.30am on weekends, at the SFS desk outside the auditorium.

**      Tickets for Cathay Screenings can be purchased from Cathay Cineplex Orchard Box Office.  Advance sale starts 15 September.

***     Tickets for SHM screenings can be purchased from Substation Box Office, 45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936.  Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 12pm-8.30pm.  Advance sale starts 15 September.

Telephone bookings are not available for the Festival.

SFS members may purchase tickets at S$9 per session on production of a valid SFS membership card at the box offices (limited to one discounted ticket per member per session).



ADAPTATIONS: Japanese Film Festival 2005

Dates: 28 September (Wed) - 9 October (Sun) 2005
Theme: Adaptations

Ticketed component:
28th September to 1st October, and 7th to 9th October
Tickets at S$10 per session
SFS members may purchase tickets at S$9 per session on production of a valid SFS membership card (one discounted ticket per member per session)

Free component:
1st - 5th October
Admission to screenings at Japanese Association Auditorium (JAA) is free

For enquiries, please call the SFS hotline 90-170-160 or log on at

Sponsor and Partners

Venue Sponsor:
Singapore History Museum

Festival Partners:
Cathay Cineplex Orchard
National Book Development Council of Singapore

Message from the Organizers

Welcome to the Japanese Film Festival 2005. The theme this year is "ADAPTATIONS".

In a country that has produced two recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature, literature has always been a major source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers. Ichikawa Kon, our Director-in-Focus this year, is one such director.

Ichikawa, one of the most versatile Japanese filmmakers, has worked in virtually every genre. Many of his masterpieces were adapted from literary works. We are featuring four of his films including CONFLAGRATION and MAKIOKA SISTERS ­ two of his best-known titles.

This festival also remembers the director, Nomura Yoshitaro, who passed away in April this year. Nomura will perhaps be most remembered for his adaptation works in the crime fiction genre. As one of the most popular forms of literature in Japan, crime fiction often serves as a mirror reflecting society's culture, way of life and the latent tensionS within. We have selected three of Nomura's finest pieces, to be presented together with THE TRAGEDY OF "W", as a tribute both to a master and to the genre.

Another popular form of reading in Japan is manga. Two of this year's selection, THE PHOENIX and L'AMANT, were adapted from manga.

The samurai genre, masterfully reinvented and elevated to a new level by the late Kurosawa Akira, is another fascinating theme that is uniquely Japanese. Kurosawa's unfinished project in this genre, WHEN THE RAIN LIFTS, was taken over by his long-time assistant director Koizumi Takashi. Koizumi's second film, LETTER FROM THE MOUNTAIN, is also selected for this year's festival.

TONY TAKITANI, the latest film by Ichikawa Jun, our featured director last year, will also make its Singapore premiere. Adapted from a short story by Murakami Haruki and scored by Sakamoto Ryuichi, the film is certainly one of the highlights of the festival.

We wish to highlight that all the 35mm films screened at Cathay and SHM are Singapore premieres.

Screening Schedule

28 Sept (Wed)

     9.15pm   Cathay     Tony Takitani, 75 mins, PG

29 Sept (Thurs)

     7.15pm   Cathay     A Laughing Frog, 96 mins, M18
     9.15pm   Cathay     L'amant, 92 mins, M18

30 Sept (Fri)

     9.15pm   Cathay     Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, 116 mins, M18

1 Oct (Sat)

     11am     JAA        The Tragedy of "W", 108 mins, PG
     2pm      JAA        Zero Focus, 95 mins, PG
     4pm      JAA        The Castle of Sand, 120 mins, PG
     7pm      JAA        The Incident, 139 mins, M18
     9.15pm   Cathay     Letter from the Mountain, 128 mins, PG

2 Oct (Sun)

     11am     JAA        Conflagration, 99 mins, PG
     2pm      JAA        I Am a Cat, 116 mins, PG
     4pm      JAA        The Phoenix, 137 mins, NC16
     7pm      JAA        The Makioka Sisters, 140 mins, PG

3 Oct (Mon)

     8pm      JAA        And Then, 130 mins, PG

4 Oct (Tues)

     8pm      JAA        When the Rain Lifts, 91 mins, PG

5 Oct (Wed)

     8pm      JAA        Poppoya - Railroad Man, 112 mins, PG

7 Oct (Fri)

     7.15pm   SHM        L'amant, 92 mins, M18
     9.15pm   SHM        Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, 116 mins, M18

8 Oct (Sat)

     11am     SHM        Tony Takitani, 75 mins, PG
     2pm      SHM        Letter from the Mountain, 128 mins, PG

9 Oct (Sun)

     11am     SHM        A Laughing Frog, 96 mins, M18

Cathay Cineplex Orchard
Cathay Cineleisure, Level 5
8 Grange Road
Singapore 239695

The Japanese Association, Singapore Auditorium
3rd Floor, 120 Adam Road
Singapore 289899

Singapore History Museum Auditorium
30 Merchant Road
#03-09/17 Riverside Point
Singapore 058282

All films are subject to approval and classification by the Media Development Authority, Singapore.

Age limits apply for films rated R21, M18 and NC16.  Proof of age is required at the point of purchase and at the point of admission.

Food and drinks cannot be brought into Cathay cinema unless purchased from the cinema's candy bar.

No food and drinks are allowed in JAA and SHM auditoriums.

All films are uncut and in original dialogue with English subtitles unless otherwise indicated.

The Organisers reserve the right to change the programme and to refuse admission. In such circumstances, refunds may be offered at the discretion of the organisers.



Nomura Yoshitaro (1919-2005)

Nomura Yoshitaro was born in Kyoto.  Prior to becoming a director, he worked as an assistant director under Kurosawa Akira.  He made his directorial debut in 1952.

In his film career, Nomura directed 89 films in total.  Crime fiction is the genre most closely associated with Nomura's works. Many of his films were adaptations of Japanese and foreign novels. The eight titles that he adapted from stories written by Matsumoto Seicho, Japan's foremost master of mystery, remain his most remembered.

Nomura's films are often regarded as suspense thrillers that offer social commentaries on another level.  With detached and distant camera work, characters in his films are portrayed as struggling on the brink of the social fabric.  Yet, in the midst of the exploration of the darker and contemptuous side of humanity, glimpses of contrasting vision of humanistic warmth radiate through his images.

His disciples included Yamada Yoji who is well known for his Tora- San series and, more recently, TWILIGHT SAMURAI.

Japanese media quoted Yamada as saying, "I deeply feel that the death of [Nomura] has marked an end to a great era of Japanese films."

Nomura passed away on 8 April 2005 at the age of 85.

Ichikawa Kon (born 1915)

One of Japan's most consistent and commercially successful post-war director, Ichikawa has worked in virtually every genre -- satirical comedies, heavy drama, documentaries and horrors, just to name a few.

He began his career as an animator, and the influence of animation and painting is evident in his films.  As a visual stylist who is adept at adaptations of literary pieces, he is generally well regarded for his ability to balance commercial appeal and artistic pursuits.

Along with Ozu, Mizoguchi and Kurosawa, Ichikawa commands an international reputation as one of Japan's Masters.  Ichikawa and his films became internationally known following BURMESE HARP winning an award at the 1956 Venice Film Festival.

Most of his films, presented with complex characters, are laced with wry and critical commentaries on Japanese society.  A native of the Kansai region, he set many of the films, including CONFLAGRATION and MAKIOKA SISTERS, in its major cities of Osaka and Kyoto.

Ichikawa was married to screenwriter, Wada Natto until her death in 1983.  She wrote and co-wrote many of his films.  The director himself frequently wrote under the pseudonym "Kuri Shitei", a reference to Agatha Christie.


Films screening at Cathay and Singapore History Museum

2004, 75 minutes, 35mm, colour, PG
Directed by: Ichikawa Jun
Author: Murakami Haruki

Adapted from a short story by Murakami Haruki and beautifully scored by Sakamoto Ryuichi.

Tony Takitani had a solitary childhood.  Being alone was normal since his mother died young and his father was always away with his jazz band. At school, he studies art, but while his sketches are accurate and detailed, they lack feeling. Used to being self-sufficient, Tony seems to find emotions illogical and immature.

After finding his true vocation as a technical illustrator, he becomes fascinated by Eiko, a client who in turn is fascinated by high-end fashion. Eventually he marries her, and his life changes. He feels vibrantly alive and, for the first time, he understands and fears loneliness. But her obsession with designer clothes begins to worry him...

2002, 96 minutes, 35mm, colour, M18
Directed by: Hirayama Hideyuki
Author: Fujita Yoshinaga

Kurasawa Ippei once was a bank executive. However, he is currently leading the life of a fugitive for stealing money from the bank. When Ippei seeks a night's hide-out at his in-law's summer house, he accidentally meets his wife, Ryoko.  She then offers to hide him in the closet for a week if he agrees to sign a divorce paper. The deal is made. Ippei now sees Ryoko's life, including exchanges with her new lover, through a hole in the closet door.

2003 Mainichi Film Concours: Best Director and Best Actress
2003 readers' poll: No. 1

2004, 92 minutes, 35mm, colour, M18
Directed by: Hiroki Ryuichi
Manga Artist: Yamada Naito

Adapted from a popular shojo manga (comics for young women).

On her 17th birthday, Chikako enters into a contract with three men, named A, B and C, to be their lover for one year.  They name her Hanako.  The arrangement is intimate yet oddly detached. Although she doesn't know nor care why she was chosen, as the year passes and the contract term draws to a close, Hanako begins to discover the reason behind the arrangement.

"Hiroki has made three films since VIBRATOR... and this is the best of them: another salvo in the sex-war made with palpable sympathy for the woman's point of view." -- Tony Rayns

2003, 116 minutes, 35mm, colour
Directed by: Inudo Isshin
Author: Tanabe Seiko

Tsuneo is a university student working part-time in a mahjong parlour.  Lately, customers have been talking about a mysterious old lady who pushes a baby carriage through the street.

One day, while walking his boss' dog, a baby carriage comes rolling downhill and crashes into a guard rail.  And so, for the first time, Tsuneo meets the girl who calls herself "Josee".

Her real name is Kumiko.  Stricken by cerebral palsy as a child and unable to walk, her grandmother takes her out every morning in the old baby carriage.  She names herself "Josee" after the heroine of a novel by Francoise Sagan.

Their relationship soon develops into an offbeat love story of artless purity colliding with the real world.

2003 Kinema Junpo Award: Best Actor
2004 readers' poll: No. 11

2002, 128 minutes, 35mm, colour
Directed by: Koizumi Takashi
Author: Nagi Keishi

Takao, an unsuccessful novelist, and his wife Michiko, a leading doctor, live in Tokyo.  Following a miscarriage, Michiko sinks into depression, and Takao decides that they shall both return and live in the mountain village in which he was born.

In the beautiful countryside, the couple encounters, among other villagers, an elderly lady living in a small temple and a young girl who is fighting against a serious illness.  To help the community, Michiko returns to medical practice.

Amidst the living mountains and sound of a flowing river lulling them to sleep, they line their table with vegetables they grow.  They soon rediscover the joy of living and the surprises in life...

2003 Japanese Academy Awards -- 11 nominations and 2 wins

Films screening at Japanese Association

Also known as "W'S TRAGEDY"
1984, 108 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Sawai Shinichiro
Author: Natsuki Shizuko

Adapted from a crime fiction story by Japan's leading female crime writer and starring one of the most popular actresses of the '80s, Yakushimaru Hiroko.

Shizuka is studying acting with a theatre company.  Her dream of becoming a professional actress is dashed when she fails to get the leading role.  In spite of her efforts, the role goes to company star Sho. Later, she is witness to a scandal in which a famous businessman is found dead in the bed of Sho. To protect herself, Sho pleads with Shizuka to accept the lead role. Shizuka achieves fame, but at what cost?

1985 Japanese Academy Awards: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Most Popular Film and Performer
1985 Kinema Junpo Award: Best Screenplay and Supporting Actress
1985 Mainichi Film Concours: Best Film, Screenplay and Supporting Actess

1961, 95 minutes, 16mm, B&W
Directed by: Nomura Yoshitaro
Author: Matsumoto Seicho

Screenplay was co-written by Hashimoto Shinobu and Yamada Yoji.

Teiko is at the Tokyo train station to see her newly-wed husband, Kenichi, who is off to Kanazawa where he is to hand over his work duty.  He promises her that he will return very soon.  Kenichi, however, does not returned as promised.

As days go by, Teiko becomes increasingly worried.  Her inquiry at the advertising agency where Kenichi works yields nothing.  She decides to investigate Kenichi's disappearance and what she is about to find out will surprise her...

1974, 120 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Nomura Yoshitaro
Author: Matsumoto Seicho

This is the theatrical release version which is 22 minutes shorter than the extended version subsequently released in video/DVD.

Yamada Yoji and Hashimoto Shinobu co-wrote the screenplay. This is one of Nomura's most acclaimed films and the favourite of the author.

A dead man is discovered at a railway yard at Kamata in Tokyo. The victim is Kenichi who used to be a policeman.  Investigators initially could not establish any possible motive for the murder. It is slowly revealed that the incident may be linked to a rising composer...

1975 Kinema Junpo Award: Best Director and Screenplay
1975 Mainichi Film Concours: Best Film, Director, Screenplay

1978, 139 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Nomura Yoshitaro
Author: Ooka Shohei

A 19-year-old factory worker is arrested for the murder of a bar owner, whose sister was his lover.  As the trial begins, many things come to light from the testimonies of the witnesses...

The incident, seemingly easy to solve in the beginning, reveals its complexity in the process of continuous hearings, raising questions about whether one man can judge another man in the ultimate sense.

Nomura commented as follows: "I don't want it to be a mere court drama. I'm using the format of judgment to render the 'crime and punishment' of human nature."

1979 Japanese Academy Awards: Best Film, Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Cinematography
1979 Mainichi Film Concours: Best Film, Director, Art Direction and Cinematography

1958, 99 minutes, 16mm, B&W
Directed by: Ichikawa Kon
Author: Mishima Yukio

Adapted from Mishima's novel 'Kinkakuji', itself based on an actual event.

Set in post-war Japan, the story is told in flashback as Mizoguchi is interrogated by the police for arson.  As a young man, his mother's open promiscuity has induced in Mizoguchi a sense of inferiority and disgrace that expresses itself in acute stammering.

Mizoguchi later becomes a Buddhist acolyte at the exquisite Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, a refuge for him that represents purity and perfection.  He soon finds out that things may be vastly different...

Some critics regard the film as Ichikawa's finest.

1959 Kinema Junpo Awards: Best Actor
1959 Mainichi Film Concours: Best Supporting Actor

1975, 116 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by Ichikawa Kon
Author: Natsume Soseki

An impoverished teacher of English and his friends pass the summer months in "deep" discussions under the sceptical gaze of the teacher's cat.  "They look carefree, talking nonsnense" the cat observes, "but if you knock at their hearts, they resound sadly." Alas, human foibles prove contagious: crossed in love, the cat decides to drown his sorrows in beer, and accidentally drowns himself in a rain barrel.

Natsume had told the story from the cat's point of view, but Ichikawa used it only intermittently.

"... mordant sense of mischief to make a funny and enjoyable film ... satirizing the mores of the characters in a variety of fresh, ingenious ways."
-- Kanet Maslin

Source: World Film Directors Vol. 2

Also known as THE FIREBIRD
1978, 137 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Ichikawa Kon
Manga Artist: Tezuka Osamu

Adapted from the "Chapter of Dawn" of Tezuka Osamu's masterpiece of the same name.

According to legend, drinking the blood of of the mythical Firebird confers immortality and invincibility.  Set around A.D. 180, warriors from warring tribes attempt to capture this elusive creature.

Ichikawa's innovative treatment of mixing animation (done by Tezuka Osamu) with live action, and featuring special effects and cinematic techniques such as split screening was received with mixed review at the time of original release.

Source: World Film Directors Vol 2

1983, 140 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Ichikawa Kon
Author: Tanizaki Junichiro

The original book is considered the definitive social novel of the period.

Set in the late 1930s, the film depicts in a leisurely, seemingly casual fashion, the day-to-day experiences of four sisters from a once-powerful Osaka ship-building family, and gradually reveals the lineaments of a disappearing world.  A literal translation of the Japanese title is "daintily or lightly falling snow."

Light snow, which melts when it touches the earth, "expresses something both fleeting and beautiful," Ichikawa says, and symbolizes both the old way of life and its dissolution, as reflected in the lives and characters of the four women.

The presentation is with humour and, at the same time, an underlying sadness.

"...There is a triumphant simplicity about his work here ... He is making visual music."
-- World Film Directors Vol 2

1985, 130 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Morita Yoshimitsu
Author: Natsume Soseki

This film is based on one of the most important novels of Natsume Soseki.  Set in the upper crust at the end of the Meiji era, it depicts the life of a 30-year-old man who is well-off with no regular occupation, and his anguish because of his love for his best friend's wife.

Morita, one of the most significant directors of the 1980s, created a classical atmosphere and told an anti-establishment love story with understated performances from the actors.

1986 Kinema Junpo Awards: Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor

Also known as AFTER THE RAIN
1999, 91 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Koizumi Takashi
Author: Yamamoto Shugoro

Based on a novel by Yamamoto Shugoro and screenplay by Kurosawa Akira.

Misawa and his wife Tayo, stranded by rain at a country inn, bring a great deal of happiness to the other residents of the inn by means of his generosity and good spirit.

Being a masterless samurai and fencing expert, Misawa soon comes to the attention of Lord Shigeaki, who hires him as a fencing instructor for his men. But Misawa's expertise causes friction and jealousy in Shigeaki's castle and his future there comes into doubt.


2001 Japanese Academy Awards: Best Film, Actor, Screenplay, Supporting Actress and 4 other wins
1999 Venice Film Festival: CinemAvvenire Awrd

1999, 112 minutes, 16mm, colour
Directed by: Furuhata Yasuo
Author: Asada Jiro

Sato Otomatsu devotes his life to making the trains run promptly in the formerly prosperous mining town of Horomai. When his colleague informs him that the unprofitable line is being closed, he reminisces about how his workaholic ways have deprived him of his personal life...

The film's casts include Takakura Ken and Hirosue Ryoko.

2000 Japanese Academy Awards: Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay and 4 other wins
2000 Kinema Junpo Awards: Best Film, Actor
2000 Mainichi Film Concours: Best Film, Actress
1999 Montreal World Film Festival: Best Actor