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Japanese comedy, ninja action … and cooking at the South Pole are some of the ingredients of this year’s Japanese Film Festival.

Opening the festival in Sydney (and closing in Melbourne), is the comedy, The Handsome Suit. Life is dull and boring for the awkward and ugly Ohki but when he dons the ‘handsome suit’, he is transformed into attractive male model Hikariyama. Featuring glamorous runway scenes, it is shot on location at the Tokyo Girls Collection 2008 Autumn/ Winter show (one of Japan’s biggest fashion labels).

Premièring in Australia is the big budget blockbuster (US$18m) that was only just been released in Japan last month. Kamui boasts of an all-star-cast ninja action flick, starring Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City), Koyuki (The Last Samurai) and Hideaki Ito (Sukiyaki Western Django).

Special guests to the festival this year are Shuichi Okita, Director of the mouth-watering culinary sensation The Chef of the South Pole and Jun Nishimura, author of the original novel that is based on a true story. Now showing in cinemas everywhere in Japan, The Chef of the South Pole is a light-hearted comedy centred on the lives of eight men in an Antarctica base. It takes a glimpse into the curious lives of these young men, in particular Chef Nishimura (Masato Sakai, After School), with recipes that will whet many appetites. The film has plenty of frozen atmos and a great sense of fun, but also some dramatic touches.

Both Okita and Nishimura will be available post-screening for comment and discussion with the audience. The Chef of the South Pole will be the closing film in Sydney on the 1 December, and the opening film in Melbourne on 3 December.

Australian fashion designers Tina Kalivas and Vaughan Alexander team to produce the costume design for the period epic story, Goemon. Following ninja-bandit hero Goemon in a Japanese Robin Hood-like plot, Goemon is packed with spectacular CGI and live-action sequences. Goemon will be screening in Sydney only.

Other films in the 2009 program include:
Detroit Metal City – a folk singer’s double life after a successful appearance on stage as a heavy metal lead singer and eventually battling it out with Gene Simmons from KISS.

K-20: the Legend of the Mask – Heart-throb Takeshi Kaneshiro (Red Cliff, House of Flying Daggers) stars as an accidental caped crusader in the fantasy action adventure about a rivalry between a detective and the phantom thief, "the Fiend with 20 Faces", otherwise known as K-20.

Gravity’s Clowns – a haunting mystery about a Japanese family where a series of graffiti and arson events paves the way to unravelling an unexpected family truth. Gravity’s Clowns is based on best-selling novel, A Pierrot, by Kotaro Isaka (The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God.)

The Cherry Tree in the Hills – a period samurai piece from Shuhei Fujisawa, author of the samurai series, including the Oscar-nominated The Twilight Samurai.

Kamogawa Horumu – set in Kyoto, this fantasy comedy is filled with innovative VFX and animation involving secret societies summoning supernatural spirits in a university league battle.

Oppai Volleyball – A comedy based on a true story; oppai in Japanese means ‘boobs’. A lazy high-school volleyball team becomes motivated to win a volleyball competition after their coach promises to reward their success by revealing her boobs.

The Kiss – a thriller following a lonely woman who falls in love with a convicted murderer sentenced to death after seeing him only on the news on TV. It was his enigmatic smile that captured her… A bizarre romance with a strange twist.

Published October 15, 2009

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The Handsome Suit © 2008 “The Handsome Suit” Film Partners

Kamui © 2009 Kamui Film Partners

Chef of the South Pole © 2009 “The Chef Of South Pole” Film Partners

K 20 © 2008 “K-20” Film Partners

13th Japanese Film Festival
Tickets on sale November 2, 2009
Adult $14 | Concession $12 | 5-film Pass $55 (excluding opening and closing film)

Festival website

Enquiries only: Japan Foundation, Sydney (02) 8239 0055
Sydney, Event Cinemas George Street
24 November – 1 December 2009
Melbourne, ACMI Cinemas
3 – 8 December 2009

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