Cinema, like music, has no boundaries. The medium has allowed people to exchange cultures, understand lifestyles as well as stories that express emotions that are universal. India and Japan have a rich cinematic legacy, with both nations experiencing a golden age in the 50s and 60s.
In recent times, while Indian cinema like Padman, English Vinglish, among others, have garnered high praise in the Japanese market, films originating in Japan—especially anime—is hugely appreciated in India. Marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan this year, The Japan Foundation, New Delhi, has decided to tap into the country’s love for cinema.
The Foundation is organising the fifth edition of the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) 2022 from February 14 to February 27. Given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, this film festival—taking place in a hybrid model wherein films are screened in theatres as well as through the Foundation’s website—will take place virtually, and is a unique experience for Indian audiences.
The long-standing friendly relations between Japan and India go all the way back to 1952, when the two countries signed a peace treaty. Over the last seven decades, several multi-layered exchanges in the realm of films, education, tourism, etc., have brought the two countries and its people closer.
Given the potential of films to transcend both linguistic and geographical boundaries, JFF seeks to forge a strong alliance between India and Japan. With its inception in 2017, the annual Festival curates a selection of films that exhibit the multi-faceted aspects of Japanese cinema, and give an insight into Japanese culture.
“JFF has continued to bring film experiences to people in India. Japanese films, especially award-winners and anime, have been released in mainstream theatres [as well]. The Festival has successfully provided a platform for fans of Japanese content to come together and express their love for our culture,” Koji Sato, Director-General, The Japan Foundation, New Delhi shared in an email interview.
A variety of genres
The theme for this year’s JFF Online 2022 is ‘Journey’ and 20 Japanese films across genres have been selected for the screening to cater to all ages and tastes. A few titles that will be screened include It’s a Summer Film, Mio’s Cookbook, Masked Ward, Under the Open Sky, Awake, Aristocrats, Time of Eve, Ito, Patema Inverted, Sumodo – The Successors of Samurai, The God of Ramen, Rashomon, The Floating Castle, among many others.
“With the global pandemic now approaching two years, many people around the world are struggling with suffering, sorrow, and loneliness. In this situation, JFF has attempted to curate Japanese films which may heal such feelings and give people joy and hope,” Sato added. The diverse line-up also attempts to reflect the many facets of Japan including the sceneries witnessed amid its four seasons, the food, ways of the common people, and the evolving social landscape.
Last year, when JFF was conducted virtually, it received an “overwhelmingly positive response”. The success of the 2021 Festival has indicated the underlying interest of people to indulge in foreign cinema. “Thousands of viewers logged onto the website to watch Japanese films; they conveyed their interest, love, and engagement with the festival through the social media channels… a steady growth of audience numbers reflected a country that has experienced a massive Internet boom in the last few years,” Sato concluded.