Experience the rich tapestry of Japanese storytelling at the 27th Japanese Film Festival (JFF) in Australia, the premier destination for fans of Japanese cinema. From gripping historical dramas to innovative modern tales, there’s a cinematic gem awaiting every film enthusiast in this year’s collection.

Proudly presented by The Japan Foundation, Sydney, the festival will be gracing screens in five major cities throughout Australia, commencing in Canberra (30 Sept – 15 Oct) before making its mark in Perth (16-22 October), Brisbane (6-22 October), Melbourne (23 October – 5 November), and culminating in Sydney (23-31 October).

This year, the festival theme revolves around the enduring link between the past and the present. Whether it’s a young fishmonger suddenly catapulted into nobility or the journey of scientists unravelling shamanic mysteries, JFF 2023 underscores the significance of history in shaping our current narratives.

Kicking off the festival is the buzzworthy opening night film We’re Broke, My Lord! A tale of unexpected inheritance, it promises to deliver the delightful wit and character depth that director Tetsu Maeda is renowned for.

For those in search of nostalgia and reverence for tradition, the award-winning Yudo: The Way of the Bath casts a humorous eye on rituals in a Showa-era bathhouse, while Single8 delivers a nostalgic trip into pre-digital filmmaking, weaving director Kazuya Konaka’s personal tales into its fabric, showing that true stories often leave the deepest impact.

Adventure seekers and families can dive into Yokaipedia, where three boys embark on a thrilling quest filled with monsters, and for the romantics, We Made a Beautiful Bouquet explores the tender intersections of love, societal expectations, and individual dreams.

In a nod to the international clout of Japanese horror, The Forbidden Play sees director Hideo Nakata blending elements of Hollywood with traditional J-horror. Given Nakata’s reputation for spine-tingling narratives, this film is tipped to be a global talking point post-release; While, Immersion sees director Takashi Shimizu explore the clash between modern VR technology and traditional Japanese superstitions.

Natchan’s Little Secret is a comedic take on Japan’s LGBTQIA+ struggles, historical gender-bending traditions, and acceptance as three drag queens journey to a distant funeral, striving to protect the secret life of a late friend.

Beyond the new releases, JFF 2023 also takes a retrospective journey with its JFF Special Series. Celebrate the masterful works of filmmaker Kо̄ Nakahira, a stalwart of post-war Japanese cinema, whose innovative vision and genre-spanning oeuvre left an indelible mark on the world of film. The free series will screen in Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Delve deeper into the cinematic experience at selected JFF 2023 screenings, with enlightening post-screening talks led by esteemed academics and special performances to help truly immerse audiences in the Japanese artform. From explorations on filmmakers like Hideo Nakata and Takeshi Kitano to a mesmerising Japanese ink painting performance in Sydney, check out the JFF website for further information.

The program of events in all five major cities are:

Canberra 30 Sept – 15 Oct
Opening Reception: 11 October at Palace Electric
Latest Releases: 11-15 October at Palace Electric
Special Series: 30 Sept-1 Oct at NFSA

Perth 16-22 October
Opening Reception: 16 October at Palace Raine Square
Latest Releases: 16-22 October at Palace Raine Square

Brisbane 6-22 October
Opening Reception: 18 October at Palace Barracks
Latest Releases: 18-22 October at Palace Barracks
Special Series: 6-7-8 & 11 October at QAGOMA

Melbourne 23 October – 5 November
Opening Reception: 23 October at The Kino
Latest Releases: 23-29 October at The Kino, Palace Balwyn
Special Series: 2-5 November at ACMI

Sydney 23-31 October
Opening Reception: 26 October at Palace Norton Street
Latest Releases: 26-31 October at Palace Central, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona
Special Series: 23-25 October at The Chauvel

From the heartwarming to the heart-stopping, the nostalgic to the novel, JFF 2023 promises a cinematic buffet for every taste. Clear your schedules, grab your popcorn, and prepare for a deep dive into the multifaceted world of Japanese cinema.

The full program can be found at: https://japanesefilmfestival.net/films-schedule