Japan Fest kicks off at 2019 HIFF Spring Showcase

By HIFF | March 12, 2019

In 2019, for the first time, HIFF will have program sections at the HIFF Spring Showcase, and this will include the first ever JapanFest! JapanFest has been designed to bring you the latest and greatest Japanese films from the winter and spring season. For this inaugural edition of JapanFest we’ve got an amazing line-up of 8 films, including drama, comedy, romance, foodie films, and even a spooky late addition horror title announcing later this week!

Here’s a breakdown of the JapanFest line-up with something for every type of film fan:

Looking for some comedy with your drama at Spring Showcase? Check-out these two funny, inspiring, and upbeat titles:


A break-out hit in Japan, A BANANA? AT THIS TIME OF NIGHT? is a heartwarming comedy about Yasuaki Kano, a disabled man that manages to live indepently with the support of volunteers. When Yasuaki meets Misaki, a rookie volunteer, he immediately falls for her. However Misaki is in love with fellow volunteer, Hisashi. While the two volunteers struggle to communicate, Yasuaki and Misaki fight and laugh their way through even the darkest moments. A hilarious and tender film that questions prevailing assumptions about people with disabilities.


When city girl Kurumi’s (Haru) company re-assigns her to their amusement park outpost in the countryside she is in the dumps. Nonetheless, she decides to make the best of it and show them her worth. Upon arrival, she discovers a ragtag crew of amusement park workers with an enigmatic leader (Hidetoshi Nishijima), and some seemingly bizarre methods of running the aging park. Though she is set on showing them her big city ideas, Kurumi may just end up enchanted by the land of Oz instead.

Fan of heartfelt drama? Come see this beautiful family film:


From director Ryota Nakano (HER LOVE BOILS BATHWATER) comes a heartfelt drama about family and the memories we share. When retired teacher Shohei begins to show signs of unusual memory loss, his wife Yoko calls daughters Mari and Fumi home to see their father. Shocked at his transformation, the women can’t get a grasp on this new version of their father. But as time passes, and the family comes to terms with Shohei’s illness, they discover that there can still be joy, happiness and love with the man they call dad.

And for the foodie film fans! Check-out these two mouth-watering J-dramas:


COMPLICITY focuses on Chen Liang, a Chinese man working illegally in Japan to send home money to his family. After purchasing a fake ID, he is accidentally sent a job opening at a countryside soba restaurant run by an aging chef. Chen Liang pretends to be the man on his ID, forming a close bond with the chef, who protects him from law enforcement and deportation. As Chen forges a life for himself, cultural barriers are broken down in the name of love and compassion.


Wataru and his wife Kotoe live an idyllic life with their young daughter on a Hokkaido dairy farm. They live in a quirky community of farmers who exchange their food, eat together and sell their wares at the local market. But when a famous chef from Sapporo comes to town and discovers their produce, he changes the way they view their simple food. Inspired to create a farm-to-table restaurant, the farmers rally together. But unexpected challenges await that may change their community forever…

Romantic at heart? Bring a date to this time-traveling, mind-bending romance!


Based on a hit novel, comes the sci-fi romance of the year! Shiori has just moved into her new apartment, when something seemingly supernatural happens. Each night a voice trails into her apartment through a wall vent, claiming to be her neighbor Susumu from 1 year in the future. The voice has a mission for Shiori, tail Susumu daily, and never tell him about his future self. Though she follows along, Shiori begins to suspect that her world may be about to turn upside down.

For the crime drama/thriller fans, we’ve got the hottest Japanese corporate crime drama of the year!


Featuring an all-star ensemble cast WHISTLEBLOWER is one of the biggest Japanese hits of the year. Harashima works as the section chief at a cutthroat Tokyo company. Hell-bent on making sales quotas, the company is led by a ruthless and fearsome management team. But Harashima notes that one employee seems to get away with anything. When slacker troublemaker Yasumi gets his section chief fired, Harashima begins to suspect foul play in the company….

And last but not least, we’ve got the horror fans covered, with a special “Late Addition” J-Horror coming later this week. We can’t give away the details yet, but check in at HIFF’s JapanFest to learn more…

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