15 years of Japanese cinema in Frankfurt! From 2 to 7 June 2015 the Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection in Frankfurt am Main will celebrate its 15th anniversary. What once began as a small student project has become the biggest festival for Japanese film worldwide. What has remained is the unique and familial atmosphere of the festival, where film fans and devotees of Japanese culture come together once a year. Over the course of six days more than 100 new productions, among them many premieres, will be shown. Numerous filmmakers from Japan will be there when Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle will turn into a colorful and inviting festival center. A wide variety of cultural events for every generation will top off the festival program.
For its anniversary, the Nippon Connection Festival will see the first edition of the Nippon Honor Award, sponsored by Lufthansa. It will be given to a renowned representative of Japanese cinema, whose outstanding merits for Japanese film will be honored. The laureate will be flown in from Japan to receive the award personally during the award ceremony on the opening night. The name is still top secret, to be lifted only shortly before the festival!
Another highlight will be the 15th international Kinema Club Conference, which will take place during the festival on 5 and 6 June. Film scholars from all over the world are expected for this exchange on the current state of Japanese film. Nippon Connection has already hosted this prestigious conference in 2007.
The first films for the program can already be announced. Japanese-American arthouse cinema comes with Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, featuring Hollywood star Rinko Kikuchi. The road movie drama by American director David Zellner was already screened to much acclaim at Berlinale. Nobuhiro Yamashita’s music comedy La La La at Rock Bottom will have its German premiere. Festival veteran Ryuichi Hiroki will have two films in this year’s selection: Kabukicho Love Hotel, an entertaining drama about the staff and patrons of that very same love hotel, as well as the laconic comedy Her Granddaughter. Ian Thomas Ash, winner of the Nippon Visions Award 2013, will return with his new documentary film -1287: an intimate portrait revolving around love, money, a happy life – and death. One very special highlight will be 0.5 mm by director Momoko Ando: a sensitive and humorous film about getting older, with wonderful characters showing a side of Japan we have rarely seen before!
This year’s Nippon Retro is dedicated to director Shinji Somai (1948-2001). Although having influenced many young filmmakers in Japan, he is still rather unknown abroad. His oeuvre, consisting of only 13 films ranging from manga adaptations and erotic dramas to road movies, is characterized by long takes, unusual aesthetics, and an impressive directing style. In cooperation with the Japan Foundation Tokyo, a selection of his films can be seen for the first time in Germany at the cinema of the German Film Museum.
Nippon Culture awaits all festival visitors with a rich program of cooking classes, workshops, exhibitions, lectures, karaoke parties, and concerts. The traditional film breakfast, the film dinner, the tea lounge, and tasty noodle soup are also on board. After last year’s great success there will also be a special culinary city tour through Frankfurt again. The Nippon Kids section also has a lot to offer: one highlight is the animation workshop for kids with filmmaker Yuichi Ito from Tokyo University of the Arts.
The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized on a voluntary basis by a team of 70 members of the non-profit Nippon Connection association. Its patrons are Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main, and Hideyuki Sakamoto, Consul General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2013, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle have been the festival centers. Further events will take place at Mal Seh’n Kino, at the German Film Museum, Ausstellungsraum Eulengasse as well as at GDA Wohnstift Frankfurt am Zoo. A new venue will be at the theater Die Käs.