The Toronto Japanese Film Festival Returns With The World Premiere Of SWING GIRLS Director's Latest!

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
The Toronto Japanese Film Festival Returns With The World Premiere Of SWING GIRLS Director's Latest!

It may not be the biggest festival to play my home city but it's certainly one of the best and the Toronto Japanese Film Festival returns on June 6th, with a stellar lineup anchored by the world premiere of the latest from Swing Girls and Waterboys director Yaguchi Shinobu! Read on for all the details!

The samurai, of the cinematic variety, are set to descend on Toronto this summer. They are joined by reluctant sake brewers, yakuza assassins, tea ceremony sages, deadly mahjong-playing robots, dashing hotel detectives, and calculating masters of “corporate kabuki”.

Now in its eighth year, the 2019 Toronto Japanese Film Festival brings Toronto audiences 28 of the finest contemporary Japanese films recognized for excellence by Japanese audiences and critics, international film festival audiences and the Japanese Film Academy.  This year’s program includes popular genres such as historical (samurai) jidaigeki, contemporary dramas, comedies and action, literary adaptations, children’s, art-house and anime films. All films shown are International, North American, Canadian, or Toronto premieres. Screenings are accompanied by musical performances, sake tastings, martial arts demonstrations, art exhibitions and of course, lots of sushi.

 “TJFF is the place for film lovers to discover the vibrancy and diversity of work from the world’s fourth largest film industry, says James Heron, TJFF Programmer and Executive Director of the Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre.  “We are proud that TJFF is recognized by the Japanese film industry as a vital conduit for bringing Japanese film to the world “

Some highlights from this year’s program of 28 feature films

  • TJFF’s highlight Centerpiece screening is the WORLD PREMIERE of DANCE WITH ME, a delightful musical comedy from popular director Shinobu Yaguchi (Waterboys, Swing Girls, Wood Job!).  Attending the screening are director Yaguchi and lead actress Ayaka Miyoshi who plays an office worker who finds herself breaking uncontrollably into song and dance whenever she hears music. She must embark on a cross country journey to break the spell, singing and dancing all the way! A deliriously joyful update of classic musicals.

  • One of Japan’s most talented and in-demand actresses Mikako Tabe (Midnight Diner 1&2, Every Day a Good Day, Sing My Life, Liar Game: Reborn) makes her first visit to Toronto to introduce her new film, Sadao Nakajima’s LOVE’S TWISTING PATH, a heady mix of romance and classic chambara jidaigeki (sword-fighting samurai dramas).

  • Director Toshiyuki Teruya (best known as the comedian “Gori” from the comic duo Garage Sale) will visit Toronto with his award-winning BORN BONE BORN, an Okinawa-based dramedy about the unique senkotsu funeral ritual.

  • Director Tatsushi Omori visits with two films, WHEN MY MOM DIED, I WANTED TO EAT HER ASHES and the festival’s closing night screening, EVERY DAY A GOOD DAY, an artful examination of the tea ceremony and actress Kirin Kiki’s final film.

  • Superstar actor and director TAKUMI SAITOH will be at the festival to introduce the North American premiere of his controversial new film A GAMBLER’S ODYSSEY 2020

Directed by Kazuya Shiraishi  (Birds Without Names, The Blood of Wolves, Dare to Stop Us), the film follows Boyatetsu, a professional mahjong player who mysteriously time slips from the ruins of post-war Japan to Tokyo in the year 2020. Based on Takehiro Irokawa’s novel and Yozo Shimizu’s manga.

  • The Opening Night film is the North American Premiere of Masayuki Suzuki’s mystery thriller, MASQUERADE HOTEL starring Takuya Kimura and Masami Nagasawa.

  • Highlights for samurai fans include Katsuhide Motoki’s IWANE: SWORD OF SERENITY starring Tori Matsuzaka, Daisuke Kimura’s A SAMURAI’S PROMISE with Junichi Okada and Shinya Tsukamoto’s KILLING.

TJFF is programmed to reflect the rich diversity of the world 4th largest film industry: premieres include Kan Eguchi’s yakuza hitman action-comedy, THE FABLE, Kazuya Shiraishi’s controversial A GAMBLER’S ODYSSEY 2020 and Hideyuki Takeuchi’s hit comedy FLY ME TO SAITAMA. And Daisuke Miura’s CALL BOY is a shockingly frank and erotic look into the life of male escort. The Canadian premiere of Naoki Segi’s sake brewery-based romance FOR LOVE’S SAKE will be followed by a sake tasting for audience members.

Award-winning films include ANOTHER WORLD, Juni Sakamoto’s intimate, probing and poignant drama that won the Audience Choice Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.  Hikaru Toda’s documentary OF LOVE AND LAW, (Best Film Tokyo International Film Festival) follows Fumi and Kazu, partners in love and law, who run the first law firm in Japan set up by an openly gay couple; and THE BLOOD OF WOLVES.  Kazyua Shiraishi’s sylish, fast-paced and hyper-violent, film which was nominated for 12 Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film, Actor and Director and Winner of the Hochi Film Award

Other screenings include premieres of Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s THE HOUSE WHERE THE MERMAID SLEEPS, Yasuhide Yoshida’s OUR DEPARTURES, Mitsuaki Iwago’s THE ISLAND OF CATS, Emiko Hiramastu’s ORGAN, Tetsu Maeda’s A BANANA, AT THIS TIME OF NIGHT?, Jiro Shono's EATING WOMEN, Katsuo Fukuzawa’s WHISTLEBLOWER, Yukiko Mishima’s THE ANTIQUE, Kazuya Shiraishi’s THE BLOOD OF WOLVES, Toshio Lee’s WHEN I GET HOME MY WIFE ALWAYS PRETENDS TO BE DEAD, Junji Sakamoto’s ANOTHER WORLD, Studio Ponoc’s new anime collection MODEST HEROES, Yoji Yamada’s WHAT A WONDEFUL FAMILY III – MY WIFE, MY LIFE, Yuki Kakizaki’s USUKE BOYS, Shuichi Okita’s MORI, THE ARTIST’S HABITAT. The festival’s August Anime Showcase screens Kitaro Kosaka’s OKKO’S INN and Hiroyasu Ishida’s PENGUIN HIGHWAY.

The Toronto Japanese Film Festival’s mandate has been carefully aligned with that of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. In the 55 years since the opening of the JCCC, film has been an important tool in creating friendship, understanding, and exchange between the Japanese and broader Canadian community. Ticket sales from the festival also help to drive our heritage programming which shares the important lessons of cultural acceptance and human rights, implicit in the Japanese Canadian experience with all Canadians.


5 FILM PASS:  $50 / $45, JCCC Members

DELUXE 10 FILM PASS:  $100 / $90, JCCC Members

100 – 10 film passes are available.  Select purchasers receive a deluxe SHISEIDO beauty package as a gift

*Pass holders can watch any 5 or 10 films at the festival.  One pass cannot be exchanged for more than one ticket for the same film.

SINGLE TICKETS:  $12 / $10, JCCC Members

*Tickets and passes can be purchased at JCCC reception or call (416) 441-2345 to purchase by Visa, MasterCard or American Express.

Also available online through Ticketweb at

All films are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

For full program, ticket and box-office info go to:

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