Get Japanese Feels as Traveling Film Fest Hits Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket

'Yakiniku Dragon'

BANGKOK — Indulge in the unique culture of the Land of the Rising Sun when the Japanese Film Festival returns later this month.

Going strong on the 132nd anniversary of Thai-Japanese friendship, the annual fest will see 12 diverse films, from dramas and comedies to thrillers and anime, hit screens in three provinces: Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Highlights include a dramatized look at a high-stakes photo competition in “Shashin Koshien Summer in 0.5 Seconds,” which portrays dedicated high-schoolers willing to do anything to win. Director Hiroshi Sugawara will join a panel discussion on Jan. 27.

Three live action film adaptations of manga series “Chihayafuru” will be screening with a presence of director Norihiro Koizumi. He will join a panel discussion on Jan. 26.

Cinephiles with a yen for non-fiction can take in “Life is Fruity,” a documentary, which recently won the Kinema Jumpo Award for best film (Cultural Section. It examines the zen-like lifestyle of 90-year-old architect Shuichi Tsubata and his 87-year-old wife, who live harmoniously with nature.

The magic of childhood comes alive in “Mirai.” The anime fantasy depicts a 4-year-old boy who can travel through time with the help of a teen girl named Mirai. It premiered at Cannes last year.

Thrill-seekers can head out for “The Crimes That Bind,” a murder mystery based on  a best-selling novel by author Keigo Higashino. After a dead woman’s body is found in an abandoned flat, the investigator becomes personally involved when he is reminded of his own mother’s disappearance.

Take a slice of Japanese humor from dark comedy “The Scythian Lamb.” Six ex-convicts and murderers live in a peaceful, seaside town. Everything goes well until a body is discovered in the water and the new citizens are suspects again.

The festival is also a chance to see Korean-Japanese screenwriter Chong Wishing’s debut film “Yakiniku Dragon.” It’s a family drama centered around a Korean migrant family in the ‘70s that opens a yakiniku restaurant in the outskirts of Osaka.

The festival kicks off in Bangkok on Jan. 24 and continues through Feb. 3 at SF World Cinema inside CentralWorld. After that, it travels to Chiang Mai from Feb. 8 until Feb. 10 at the Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center. From Feb. 22 until Feb. 24, it will have a run at Central Festival Phuket.

Tickets are 120 baht in Bangkok and 80 baht in Chiang Mai and Phuket. They can be booked online starting Jan. 14. Check out the film schedule online.