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Philippines-Japan Friendship Month opens with Eiga Sai — The Japanese Film Festival

In celebration of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month, the Japanese Foundation, Manila, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, Shangrila-La Plaza Mall, University of the Philippines Film Institute, Film Development Council of the Philippines,, and NET 25 TV, hosts the much-awaited screenings of critically acclaimed Japanese films at the annual Eiga Sai — The Japanese Film Festival.

This year, the festival kicks off at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 4 from July 5 to 15, 2012. The festival will also have runs in different cities around the Philippines including the Gaisano South Citimall in Davao City from July 20 to 22, the Ayala Center Cinema 4 in Cebu City from Aug. 7 to 12, and the University of the Philippines Film Institute in Quezon City from Aug. 15 to 21. 

The festival’s opening night features the invitational screening of Sang-il Lee’s award-winning 2010 motion-picture drama “Villain.” This gritty social critique based on Shuichi Yoshida’s crime noir novel “Akunin” is a tale about falling in love while being on the run for murder. It received 15 nominations at the Japan Academy Awards including Best Film and Best Director. Winning five awards, it swept the four acting accolades and garnered the Best Musical Score Award as well. The film also toured around different international film festivals where it also received a number of citations.

Completing the 10 films for the festivity are “PEAK: The Rescuers,” “Railways,” “Happy Flight,” “Tomorrow’s Joe,” “In His Chart,” “Colorful,” “Abacus and Sword,” “Permanent Nobara,” and “Ninja Kids!!!.” All films are screening in 35mm format with English subtitles.

“PEAK: The Rescuers” is an adventure drama based on Shinichi Ishizuka’s popular manga. It follows the story of an esteemed mountaineer, known for conquering the world’s famous peaks, as he faces the challenges of being a volunteer mountain rescuer in the Alps. 

“Railways” is a heartwarming drama about an elite, middle-aged businessman who returns to his hometown to revisit his childhood dream of becoming a train conductor.

“Happy Flight” is an entertaining comedy drama about a Japan-to-Hawaii flight that faces several challenges up in the air. Focusing on a co-pilot’s final test for promotion to become a captain and a cabin attendant’s debut in an international route, the story unfolds with a series of technical failures and an approaching typhoon that further endangers the crew and the passengers.

“Tomorrow’s Joe” is a live-action adaptation of a popular manga about two boxing rivals pitted against each other. This eponymous comic revolves around the tale of a recruit from the slums and a professional fighter as they ace each other in a fierce battle that will soon determine their fates.

“In His Chart” is a medical drama based on Natsukawa Sosuke’s debut novel. Offering an eye-opening glimpse into Japan’s healthcare issues, it examines a young doctor’s encounter with a terminal cancer patient, which soon leads to him to questioning the very existence of medicine.

“Colorful” is a sci-fi and fantasy animated piece that explores what happens to a deceased soul when it transfers into the body of a high school boy who just committed suicide. This older soul inhabits the boy’s life and he journeys deeper into his story until his impending death.

“Abacus and Sword” is a period drama adapted from Isoda Michifumi’s book. It chronicles life during the final days of the Tokugawa shogunate from the household accounts of a low-ranking samurai struggling through financial problems.

“Permanent Nobara” is a romantic drama based on Saibara Rieko’s popular manga series. It tells the story of a woman, a portrait of feminine strength, humor, and compassion, and her pursuit for love.

“Ninja Kids!!!” is a live-action adaptation of Amako Soubei’s ninja action manga that follows the slapstick antics of a group of ninjas-in-training. This children’s movie showcases a group of little rascals honed to become elite ninjas as they find themselves in real-life action when an assassin shows up in a fourth grader’s home.

Except for the invitational opening night on July 5, all film showings are free for the public. Tickets are limited and they are provided an hour before each screening. 

No reservations are entertained for acquiring tickets and only one ticket per film can be provided to one person at a time. Considering the high demand for tickets as seen during the past years, each attendee is encouraged to arrive and fall in line about two hours before every screening of choice to secure a seat. Once tickets run out, those still in line are automatically queued for the next film.

Schedules are available at the Japan Foundation, Manila website For more details and inquiries, call 811-6155 to 58 or email

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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