The film industry is suffering. New films are being delayed left and right, and even when cinemas open up, as seen in Japan, it’s not a return to the normality experienced before the pandemic. Film festivals have also suffered as a result, with many forced to cancel. A number of these festivals have joined forces for a worldwide We Are One: Global Film Festival streaming event on YouTube, with various films, including 6 Japanese films, being made available for free online for a limited time.
Starting today, with new films and talks premiering daily until June 7th, arthouse films and documentaries from around the world are to be streamed for free via YouTube. This includes a number of Japanese films, and it’s these films I’d like to showcase for you now.
- East of Jefferson (short film, 21mins, 12:30pm EST, May 30th) – In a love hotel somewhere on the edge of the city, a man and a woman are about to make love, but happen upon an unexpected, ethereal connection in this moody memory piece.
- The Yalta Conference Online (short film, 39mins, 7:00am EST, June 1st) – Just before the end of World War II, the Yalta Conference was held by the “Big Three” Allied leaders: Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States, Winston Churchill of Britain, and Joseph Stalin of the USSR. This film is a world premiere created especially for the event entirely through Zoom.
- Inabe (short film, 35mins, 8:00am EST, June 1st) – In Koji Fukada’s 2013 short, pig farmer Tomohiro’s sister Naoko suddenly returns to their pastoral home city with her new baby after a 17-year absence.
- Genius Party: Happy Machine (short film, 16mins, 7:00am EST, June 3rd) – Masaaki Yuasa’s animated short is perhaps most of interest to those who’ve not had a chance to watch the experimental short film omnibus ‘Genius Party’ before. After an innocent baby’s nursery crumbles away before his eyes, he enters into a surreal world.
- Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops (feature film, 74mins, 3:30pm EST, June 4th) – In a small town in Japan, a theatrical premiere is planned for the British play “Morning” by Simon Stephens, which centers on two teenagers who share a grim, violent secret. Centered on a local theatre group who practice their play in spite of a cancellation due to a lack of interest, this film is shot entirely in a single take.
- Tremble All You Want (feature film, 117mins, 3:15pm EST, June 5th) – A comedy centred on 24-year-old office worker Yoshika who is unable to move on from a 10-year-long secret crush on her middle school classmate. One day her colleague asks her out, but she has trouble reciprocating his feelings due to this crush, so she organizes a class reunion which doesn’t go as planned.
Although each of these films will premiere at the stated date, they will each be made available until the end of the festival on June 7th. Out of these, although I imagine much attention will go towards Masaaki Yuasa’s short film from 2007, the concept of the single-take appeals to me to the extent that I personally can’t wait to catch Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops. I also can’t deny that the Yalta Conference Online looks just goofy enough to be a good laugh.
Away from Japanese film, the We Are One: Global Film Festival is also showcasing a special panel discussion about the state of art film today between Oscar-winning director of The Life of Pi Ang Lee and Shoplifters director Kore-Eda Hirokazu. This has been curated but the Berlin International Film Festival and will take place at 5:30pm EST on June 5th.
To find out more about these Japanese films or any other film showing as part of the We Are One: Global Film Festival you can find a complete schedule over on the festival’s official website.