Seven Weeks (dir. Obayashi Nobuhiko, 2014)
Far and away the film we are most excited about is the world premiere of Seven Weeks, the new film from the director of cult classic Hausu.
The title refers to the period of time before a soul is laid to rest following a person's death. The description for the film talks of a family reunion to mourn the death of its 92-year-old patriarch, and the arrival of a mysterious woman whose relationship to the elderly man may unveil some dark secrets about his past.
While there is no indication of the tone or genre of this 3-hour opus, judging by the director's previous work we are in for a unique and hugely entertaining treat. The world premiere of Seven Weeks closes the festival on Sunday, 2nd March.
Gun Woman (dir. Mitsutake Kurando)
Anyone familiar with the work of Iguchi Noboru will recognise lead actress Asami. In this Japan/US co-production, filmed on location in the States, She plays a blood-smeared angel of vengeance on a warpath of destruction. Apparently there's a romantic element too, but going by everything we've seen of this film so far, it's destined to be a late-night grind house splatterfest. (World Premiere).
The Pinkie (dir. Takeba Lisa)
One of the few local films to have already screened outside of Japan, or anywhere for that matter, is Takeba's sci-fi horror comedy romance in which a playboy has his titular finger chopped off by a yakuza after fooling around with his girlfriend. His pinkie is picked up by an obsessive admirer, who proceeds to clone her own version of him, all for herself. Needless to say, things don't go to plan.
The Pinkie had its world premiere at Rotterdam last month, where are own Ard Vijn caught it, and praised the film for its flashy visuals, robust sense of humour and ultimately sweet message, even if he did have some pacing and tonal issues. We'll be sure to see how the film fares on home turf, as it sounds like a perfect Yubari movie.
Read Ard's review here
Kept (dir. Mizui Maki)
The directorial debut from former assistant to Sono Sion and Nishimura Yoshihiro, Mizui Maki draws upon her own catastrophic life experiences as a sex crime victim for this dark tale of a young woman whose pleas for help and justice fall on deaf ears. This sounds like personal and powerful stuff, and definitely worth checking out. (World Premiere)
Fuck Me To The Moon (dir. Takahata Quanah, Takino Hirohito)
As is often the case at a festival like Yubari, where little to no information is available about the films in question ahead of time, sometimes a good title is all you need to attract attention. That is certainly the case for Takahate and Takino's Fuck Me To The Moon. Touted as a mixture of Japanese idol film and romantic pornography, the film follows two dowdy men as they compose the perfect tune to accompany their proposed threesome with Kaguya, a girl from the moon. Featuring music from "nerd-techno unit" Mikeneko Homeless, and there are simply too many mind-boggling things converging on this one project for us to pass up the chance to see it.
A Tale of Your Scab (dir. Ueno Ryohei)
Speaking of films with wacky titles, this 39-minute offering from 18-year-old director/writer/editor Ueno Ryohei tells the bizarre, yet intimate story of a devoted husband who becomes addicted to picking and eating his wife's scabs. Has there ever been a more profound story told about the complexities of marriage? We're about to find out!
Samurai Opera (dir. Okawa Shogo)
By all accounts, Okawa Shogo's lavish 20-minute epic is precisely what its title suggests. A samurai opera. Filmed and sung entirely in English, Okawa's film is a retelling of the famous Japanese costume drama, Echigoya, onu shi mo waru yo nou and follows a wandering ronin as he rescues a young woman being attacked by men who prove to be powerful figures from the nearby town.
You Are Also An Insect dir. Toda Yukihoro
Writer-director Toda Yukihiro won the Grand Prize at last year's festival, for his excellent docudrama There Is Light (which will also be screened again at this year's fest). As is customary at Yubari, the winer must use his cash prize to finance a new feature, and return the following year to screen it at the festival. You Are Also An Insect is that film, and while there are no plot details as of this minute, one look at the image above should give you some indication of what's in store.
Live (dir. Iguchi Noboru)
A perennial favourite at Yubari, Iguchi Noboru is responsible for such ridiculously entertaining films as The Machine Girl, Robogeisha and Dead Sushi, to name just a few. The incredibly prolific filmmaker, whose Gothic Lolita Battle Bear is so new it hasn't really screened anywhere yet, has another new film ready for audiences, and will have its world premiere on the last day of the festival.
Live sees a young man forced to become a hero when a mysterious book is delivered to his house at the same time a video is sent to his phone, showing his mother being abducted. If he is to see his mother alive he must follow the clues hidden in the book.
From this description, Live sounds more serious than some of Iguchi's past efforts, and as those who have seen his excellent Karate Robo Zaborgar can attest, it's a move that can certainly work in the director's favour.
The ABCs of Tetsudon (dir. various)
Tetsudon, a gropu of zero-budget filmmakers who have been a mainstay of the Yubari scene for many years, have assembled 26 directors to tell 26 short films "about Japan". It appears filmmakers from Hong Kong and South Korea are also among those involved, and the collective seems confident that even if you don't like the film, you'll still have a good time:
"It is inevitable that the theatre will be full of laughter, handclaps, roars or booings like “Pay back the money!”. But we won’t reimburse you! We'll find out soon enough.