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.