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Japanese Film Festival 2007: True.Romance

What Explore the many faces of love with this year’s Japanese Film Festival – True.Romance
When 15 September 2007 (Saturday) - 23 September 2007 (Sunday)
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

S$10 tickets (available from 3 September) for screenings which are NOT marked "Free Admission":

  • On-line at
  • Through GATECRASH Hotline: 6222-5595
  • At the Substation, all SingPost Branches & S.A.M. Kiosks.

S$8 discounted tickets available to SFS members, ONLY through the GATECRASH Hotline or in person at all SingPost Branches. SFS members must produce a valid SFS membership card. Limited to one discounted ticket per member per session. Discounted tickets are not available online or at S.A.M. Kiosks.

Free-Admission screenings: Queue numbers for same-day sessions are available on a first-come, first-served basis, from 7pm on weekdays and from 10.30am on weekends and public holidays, at the SFS desk outside the Theatre (i.e. you can pick up free queue numbers for any sessions on the same day, but not for any other day).


Presented by The Embassy of Japan in Singapore, The Japan Foundation, Singapore Film Society, National Museum of Singapore, and The Japanese Association, Singapore

Premier Sponsor: JCCI Singapore Foundation

Supported by: Planet Ads and Design Pte. Ltd.

Message from the Organizers

Explore the many faces of love with this year's Japanese Film Festival – True.Romance

True.Romance brings to Singapore a selection of fine Japanese films that explore the complex, myriad facets of romance: obsession, dedication, joy, suffering, boredom, excitement, passion, lust... In addition to the romance theme, the Festival looks at films that depict actual events and characters, many adapted from true-life accounts.

This year's Director-in-Focus is the late master Imamura Shohei, who passed away in May 2006.  The master filmmaker, one of the few directors who received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival twice in his lifetime, is best remembered for his depictions of humanity at its most raw, primitive and energised level. In contrast to the restrained, refined manner of directors like Ozu Yasujiro, Imamura's sympathies lie with the lower classes and the downtrodden of Japanese society. His idiosyncratic films presented the other side of the cool polite façade of Japanese society – one dominated by human desires and emotions.

We are honoured to have as a Festival Guest, Yoshiyuki Kazuko, our Actress-in-Attendance. Ms. Yoshiyuki collaborated with Imamura in one of their earliest films: NIANCHAN, a gritty, realistic look at poverty in a mining town. This work will be screened at the Festival along with two of Ms. Yoshiyuki's recent films: ORIUME and GABAI GRANNY, in which she played leading roles.

We are also pleased to welcome Ichikawa Jun as our Director-in-Attendance. A perennial favourite among local audiences – during the Japanese Film Festival 2005, all screenings of TONY TAKITANI were sold out, and the work later enjoyed a general run at The Picturehouse – Ichikawa Jun is one of Japan's most acclaimed postwar directors, with an internationally established reputation for his unique film vocabulary and eloquence in depicting emotional subtleties.  Three of his films (including his latest, HOW TO BECOME MYSELF) will be presented at this year's Festival.

We hope you will join us at this year's Japanese Film Festival, and experience for yourself what True.Romance might taste like.


Screening schedule

Screenings highlighted in yellow:
    Free Admission

Other Screenings:
    S$10 (Public)
    S$8 (SFS members)

Sat 15 Sep

11.00am :: Eejanaika, 151 minutes, M18, Free Admission
 2.15pm :: Black Rain, 123 minutes, NC16, Free Admission
 4.30pm :: Vengeance is Mine, 140 minutes, R21, Free Admission
 7.30pm :: The Ballad of Narayama, 130 minutes, R21, Free Admission

Sun 16 Sep

11.00am :: Hachiko, 107 minutes, PG, Free Admission
 2.15pm ::  Faraway Sunset, 119 minutes, PG, Free Admission
 4.30pm ::  Lost in the Wilderness, 140 minutes, PG, Free Admission
 7.30pm ::  Inochi, 111 minutes, NC16, Free Admission

Mon 17 Sep

7.30pm ::  The Sting of Death, 115 minutes, NC16, Free Admission

Tue 18 Sep

7.30pm ::  Dying at a Hospital, 100 minutes, PG, Free Admission

Wed 19 Sep

7.30pm ::  Tokyo Marigold, 97 minutes, rating PG

Thu 20 Sep

7.30pm ::  How to Become Myself, 97 minutes, PG
9.15pm ::  Masterclass Lecture by Ichikawa Jun (60 mins), Free Admission                      

Fri 21 Sep

7.30pm ::  The Strange Tale of Oyuki, 116 minutes, R21, Free Admission

Sat 22 Sep

11.00am :: Appassionata, 129 minutes, rating R21, Free Admission
 2.15pm :: Nianchan, 101 minutes, rating PG, Free Admission
 4.30pm :: Oriume, 111 minutes, rating PG
(There will be a post-screening discussion on this film. With the kind participation of the Alzheimer's Disease Association, Singapore. More details with film synopsis below)
 7.30pm :: Gabai Granny, 104 minutes, PG
 9.15pm :: Dialogue Session with Yoshiyuki Kazuko (60 mins), Free Admission

Sun 23 Sep

11.00am :: Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story, 85 minutes, PG, Free Admission
 2.15pm ::  Dying at a Hospital, 100 minutes, PG, Free Admission
 4.30pm ::  Life Can Be So Wonderful, 70 minutes, M18
 7.30pm ::  Moon & Cherry, 82 minutes, rating R21


Please note that age restrictions apply for some of the following ratings:

TBA: To be announced
or General
PG: Parental Guidance required
NC16: No Children below 16 years old
M18: Mature 18 -- for persons 18 years old and above
R21: Restricted to persons 21 years old and above

Imamura Shohei (Tokyo, 15 Sep 1926 – 30 May 2006)

Imamura occupies a unique place in the pantheon of modern Japanese filmmakers. He eschewed the refinement of Ozu Yasujiro and the technical grandeur of Kurosawa Akira, but avoided the confrontational excesses of that other social critic-cum-filmmaker Oshima Nagisa. Instead, Imamura displayed an uncommon sympathy and curiosity for the impoverished and downtrodden – Japanese who had fallen through the cracks of society, or who were just about to.

He began his film career in 1951 as an assistant director, after he graduated from Waseda University where he studied Western history. His apprenticeships with Ozu Yasuhiro and Nomura Yoshitaro, amongst others at Shochiku, lasted only a few years. In 1954 Imamura left for Nikkatsu, where in 1958 he directed his first film Stolen Desire. Disagreeing with the established aesthetics of his predecessors, Imamura's work was eccentric from the start, and he continued to make a series of highly-energetic and thought-provoking – even controversial – films through the early 1960's.

Subsequently, Imamura attempted to produce his own films and later established a film school in Yokohama. After a series of documentary-like projects, Imamura returned to a more traditional, narrative form of film-making with VENGEANCE IS MINE in 1979 (based on a true story).

In 1982, his re-interpretation of THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA won him his first Palme d'Or. His second was in 1997 for THE EEL.

Perhaps Imamura's unique filmmaking vision is best summed up by himself: “My films explore the humanistic facet of Japan that is messy... I am interested in people from the lower rung of social structure and their relationship with the lower part of human body... I ask myself what differentiates humans from other animals. What is a human being? I look for the answer by continuing to make films."

Ichikawa Jun (Tokyo, 1948- )

Born in Tokyo, 1948, Ichikawa Jun began as a maker of hit TV commercials – he won the Grand Prize at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 1985 – and moved into filmmaking in 1987. His debut work, BU.SU (1993), was critically acclaimed and was voted one of the top ten films of 1987 by Kinema Jumpo (one of the most authoritative Japanese film journals).

Since then, Ichikawa has continued to produce daring films, depicting humanity with realism in a unique tranquil style. For instance, he used a delicate balance of fiction and fact to create a near-documentary narrative for DYING AT A HOSPITAL (1993), turning what might have been melodramatic dross in the hands of a lesser director into a celebration of life in the face of death's inevitability.

While rooted in a humanist tradition exemplified by the revered director Ozu Yasujiro (Ichikawa himself has been favourably compared with Ozu.), Ichikawa has continued to bring innovative treatments to his work, most recently with his interpretation of novelist Murakami Haruki's TONY TAKITANI (2004) and AOGEBA TOUTOSHI (2006).

Ichikawa Jun has doubtless established himself as one of Japan's most acclaimed postwar directors, with an internationally established reputation for his unique film vocabulary and eloquence in depicting emotional subtleties.

This reputation extends to Singapore too, where Ichikawa Jun is a perennial favourite among local audiences who appreciate his sublime films. For instance, during the Japanese Film Festival 2005, all screenings of TONY TAKITANI were sold out, and the work later enjoyed a profitable general run at The Picturehouse.

The Singapore Film Society and the Embassy of Japan are particularly honoured and pleased to host Ichikawa Jun in Singapore, for the Japanese Film Festival 2007.

Selected Filmography

1987 Bu.Su
1990 Tsugumi
1993 Dying at a Hospital
1995 The Tokyo Sibling
1997 Tokyo Lullaby
1999 Osaka Story
2001 Tokyo Marigold
2002 Ryoma's Wife, Her Husband and her Love
2004 Tony Takitani

What critics said about Tony Takitani (2004):

“A delicate wisp of a film with a surprisingly sharp sting.” – The New York Times. Also a New York Times Critics' Pick

“A refined, delicately poetic reverie on loss and memory.” – Variety

Tony Takitani is an exquisite film, as elegant and precise as an impeccably cut diamond.” – Los Angeles Times


1985 Cannes International Advertising Festival - Grand Prize
1995 45th Berlin International Film Festival - Federation of International Critic Prize
1997 Montreal World Film Festival - Best Director
2004 Locarno International Film Festival - Special Jury Prize, Fipresci Prize, Youth Jury Prize

Yoshiyuki Kazuko (Tokyo, 1935 -)

Born in Tokyo in 1935, Yoshiyuki Kazuko is a veteran actress with extensive experience in theatre, film and TV.

Since her debut in the role of Anne Frank with the theatre company Mingei, Yoshiyuki has made numerous appearances in an array of films such as NIANCHAN by Imamura Shohei, EMPIRE OF PASSION by Oshima Nagisa, and  KIKUJIRO and GLORY TO THE FILMMAKER, both by Kitano “Beat” Takeshi.

Ms. Yoshiyuki won the Best Supporting Actress award in 1960 for NIANCHAN, while in 1997 she was nominated for the Best Actress for the Award of the Japanese Academy. Her latest win was in 2003, where she received the Tanaka Kinuyo Award at the Mainichi Film Concours.

Yoshiyuki is also known in Japan as a poet and essayist.

Selected Filmography

1995 Nemureru bijo, also known as “House of Sleeping Beauties”
1999 Gohatto, also known as “Taboo”
2002 Oriume
2005 Kono mune ippai no ai wo also known as “A Heartful of Love”
2006 Gabai Granny
2007 Kantoku Banzai! also known as “Glory to the Filmmaker!”




Black Rain
(黒い雨 / Kuroi Ame)

Japan, 1989, 123 min, Black & White, 35mm, Drama, Rating: NC16
Directed by: IMAMURA Shohei

Based on Ibuse Masuji's novel about hibakusha - Japanese atomic bomb survivors struggling with discrimination and social isolation due to radiation poisoning. After the world's first nuclear bomb detonates over Hiroshima, radioactive black rain falls over the city. Yasuko has trouble finding a marriage partner after being exposed to this rain. As her loved ones succumb one by one to radioactive sicknesses and her health deteriorates, she is forced to give up the man she loves...


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1990) – Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Director,  Best Editing, Best Film, Best Lighting, Best Music Score, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress
  • Kinema Junpo Award (1990) – Best Actress, Best Director and Best Film
  • Cannes Film Festival (1989) - Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention
  • Asia-Pacific Film Festival (1989) - Best Screenplay


  • Cannes Film Festival (1989) - Golden Palm

The Ballad of Narayama
(楢山節考 / Narayama Bushiko)

Japan, 1983, 130 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: R21
Directed by: IMAMURA Shohei

In a poor village, anyone who reaches the age of seventy will climb up Mount Narayama to spend their remaining days there. Orin, a hardworking woman, is preparing for her ascent up the mountain this winter. Before she goes, she dutifully arranges her son's marriage but things do not go smoothly. Grappling with the twist of fate, mother and her reluctant son make their ascent up Mount Narayama.

This is a re-interpretation of the book Men of Tohoku by Fukuzawa Shichiro, which was first adapted into film in 1958 by Kinoshita Keisuke.


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1984) – Best Actor, Best Film, Best Sound
  • Cannes Film Festival (1983) – Golden Palm


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1984) – Best Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress

Vengeance Is Mine
(復讐するは我にあり/ Fukushû suruwa wareniari)

Japan, 1979, 140 min, Colour, 35mm, Thriller, Rating: R21
Directed by: IMAMURA Shohei

Imamura based this film on a 1975 Naoki Prize-winning novel dealing with the trail of crime left by real-life criminal Iwao Enokizu. Police begin an investigation into the brutal robbery-and-murder of two men near a railroad station and in the process of gathering evidence delve into Enokizu's warped life – he once raped a woman bar owner, then forced her to live in his apartment. The movie charts Enokizu's decadent life of crime: murder, fraud, and cheating women.


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1980) – Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film, Best Lighting, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress
  • Kinema Junpo Award (1980) – Best Director, Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1980) – Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress

Movie Review:


Japan, 1981, 151 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, Rating: M18
Directed by: IMAMURA Shohei

The film depicts a carnivalesque atmosphere in the days leading to the Meiji Restoration, summed up in the cry "Ee ja nai ka" ("Ain't it great?"). After being rescued from a shipwreck by a passing American ship, Genji spends six years in America, filled with ideas of freedom and equality. But his longing for his native land and his young wife Ine never ceased. When he returns to Japan eventually, he steps into a land on the brink of turbulent change. It is 1866, the second year of the Keio Era, and boiling in the minds of the masses is something that points toward the coming of a new age.


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1982) – Best Supporting Actress, Newcomer of the Year
  • Yokohama Film Festival (1982) – Best Supporting Actress


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1982) – Best Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film, Best Lighting, Best Sound


Japan, 2002, 111 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: NC16
Directed by: SHINOHARA Tetsuo

Miri is pregnant with the child of a married man. At first he wants her to have the child, but unable to forsake his family, he remains indecisive. Looking for help, Miri visits playwright Higashi Yutaka – her patron and former lover. After Miri learns that Higashi has an incurable cancer, she makes up her mind to help him live bravely with his illness and together, they bring up her child. Based on a bestselling novel, in which author Yu Miri candidly recorded her life experiences.


  • Asia-Pacific Film Festival (2002) - Best Actress, Best Film


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (2003) – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Sound
  • Montreal World Film Festival (2002) - Grand Prix des Amériques

The Sting of Death
(死の棘 / Shi no Toge)

Japan, 1990, 115 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: NC16
Directed by: OGURI Kohei

1944. The Pacific War is proceeding unfavourably for the Japanese. Toshio, a young navy commander, falls in love with Miho and the couple is determined to die for their country. They survive the war and ten years after, they seem happily married with children. But when Miho discovers Toshio's extramarital affair, their idyllic life is shattered. Miho lapses into insanity and as her condition worsens, Toshio decides to end his affair and devote himself to curing his wife.


  • Cannes Film Festival (1990) - FIPRESCI Prize, Grand Prize of the Jury
  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1991) - Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Lighting, Best Sound


  • Cannes Film Festival (1990) - Golden Palm
  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1991) - Best Film, Best Screenplay

The Strange Tale of Oyuki
(墨東綺譚 / Bokuto Kidan)

Japan, 1992, 116 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: R21
Directed by: SHINDŌ Kaneto

Nagai Kafu, a famous author, knows he is too old to be visiting brothels. But he cannot help himself. One rainy night Oyuki, a prostitute, asks to share his umbrella, then tries to seduce him. Thus begins an unlikely romance – he is 58 years old and she is only 25. Based on "Order of Culture" recipient Nagai Kafu's (1879-1959) short story of the same name, this film expands the source material using actual entries from Kafu's diary, which he kept from 1917 until his death.


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1993) – Newcomers of the Year
  • Kinema Junpo Award (1993) – Best New Actress


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1993) – Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Screenplay

Faraway Sunset
(遠き落日 / Toki rakujitsu)

Japan, 1992, 119 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: KŌYAMA Seijirō

An inspiring biography of Noguchi Hideyo – famous bacteriologist known for discovering the agent that caused syphilis and for his work on a vaccine for yellow fever. Born in 1876, he became the target of ridicule in his village after a childhood accident caused his fingers to fuse together. His mother Seika sent him to school despite their poverty, and with her constant encouragement, Hideyo grew up to become a brilliant student. After a doctor successfully operated on Hideyo's hand, he was so impressed and inspired that he resolved to be a doctor himself, to help others in need.


  • Asia-Pacific Film Festival (1992) - Best Director
  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1992) - Best Actress


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1992) - Best Cinematography, Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Art Direction

(ハチ公物語 / Hachiko Monogatari)

Japan, 1987, 107 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, PG
Directed by: KŌYAMA Seijirō

The true story behind the Hachiko statue loved by Tokyoites, that stands watch outside Shibuya station. A teaching assistant receives a brave and devoted puppy. Named “Hachiko”, she meets her master on the way home from work at Tokyo's Shibuya station every day. When Hachiko's master becomes sick and does not return home one day, Hachiko faithfully waits through rain or shine for her kind master.


  • Genesis Award (1988) – Feature Film


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1988) - Best Art Direction, Best Film, Best Screenplay

Lost in the Wilderness
(植村直己物語 / Uemura Naomi Monogatari)

Japan, 1986, 140 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: SATO Junya

World-famous adventurer Uemura Naomi lived through a difficult childhood that spurred him to take on incredibly dangerous challenges which he overcame one after another. He was the first Japanese to conquer the peaks of Mt. Everest, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro and several other mountains. Not content with demonstrating mountaineering prowess, Uemura also crossed Greenland's arctic expanse alone. In 1984, while descending from the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska, Uemura mysteriously disappeared and his body was never found. This is Sato Junya's tribute to Uemura's indomitable spirit.


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1987) - Best Sound
  • Mainichi Film Concours (1987) - Reader's Choice Award


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1987) - Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film

(序の舞 / Jo no mai)

Japan, 1984, 129 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, Rating: R21
Directed by: NAKAJIMA Sadao

Japanese artist Uemura Shōen was the first woman to receive the Order of Culture, Japan's highest award for cultural achievement. This film describes her remarkable life: from a precocious child prodigy to a suspected liaison with her mentor and other trials and triumphs in the tradition-laced world of Japanese art.

Information on Uemura Shōen

Dying at a Hospital
(病院で死ぬということ / Byoin de shinu toiukoto)

Japan, 1993, 100 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: ICHIKAWA Jun

This film comprises the stories of various families dealing with death inside a hospital – a young father dying slowly, an elderly couple in separate hospitals who want to be together and a woman who fights to stay alive. Ichikawa deliberately shoots his actors' fine performances from a distance – middle and long shots, no close-ups – painting a realistic picture of people dealing with death. Interspersed with these stories are lyrical montages of life outside the hospital. The end result is a hopeful yet sensitive treatment of life and living. By Ichikawa's own admission, this is “perhaps the closest [he's] come to an Ozu movie”.


  • Mainichi Film Concours (1994) – Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Sound
  • Kinema Junpo Award (1994) – Best Supporting Actor


  • Award of the Japanese Academy (1994) – Best Supporting Actor

Tokyo Marigold

Japan, 2001, 97 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: ICHIKAWA Jun

Eriko – lonely, aimless and self-absorbed – falls for Tamura. Despite knowing that he is waiting for his girlfriend to return from overseas, she requests to enter into a relationship with him for just one year. Things start out well, but as the girlfriend's return draws nearer, Eriko is forced to struggle with her inner feelings and hopes for her future. Tanaka Rena portrays Eriko with an alluring yet naïve and childlike countenance, in this study of loneliness and the fragility of relationships. Based on the novel Ichinen no Nochi by Hayashi Mariko.

How to Become Myself
(あしたの私のつくり方 / Ashita no watashi no tsukurikata)

Japan, 2007, 97 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: ICHIKAWA Jun

Juri portrays the role of the ideal daughter at home and in school, but all she really wants is for her parents to stop fighting. Deep down, she admires her popular primary school classmate Kanako. However, Kanako becomes the class outcast suddenly. Years later, in high school and still craving popularity, Kanako begins receiving mysterious emails about a popular girl named Hina. Inspired, she adopts this fake persona. But what happens when the emails stop? At first glance, this seems like another “seishun eiga” or youth drama. But Ichikawa Jun transcends the clichés associated with this popular film genre and focuses on how two girls struggle to define their individual identities in modern Japanese society.

“Ichikawa also has a keen eye for the moments of truth or flashes of beauty that suggest a larger, transcendent reality. Like many Japanese directors, he often uses shots of trees, clouds, crowds of other "found" phenomena for transitions, but the best of these images evoke what might be called the eternal in the present, the universal in the mundane, in ways few others can equal.” – The Japan Times


Post-Screening Dialogue Session with Ichikawa Jun

Mr Ichikawa will join the audience in a discussion on his films and experience as a director.


Japan, 1959, 101 min, Colour, 16mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: IMAMURA Shohei

Imamura's film centres on the plight of Koreans who chose to remain in Japan after Japan gave up colonial rule over Korea. Of the approximately six hundred thousand ethnic Koreans who decided to remain in Japan, almost a quarter of the population worked in the mining industry, but gradually lost their jobs to returning soldiers. The Yasumoto family is one such affected family. With the death of their father, siblings Kiichi, Ryoko, Koichi and Sueko are now orphans. They struggle against the crushing poverty that threatens to separate them, but it slowly becomes apparent that their efforts to stay together are woefully unrealistic in the face of economic pressures.


  • Mainichi Film Concours (1960) – Best Supporting Actress, Best Sound
  • Blue Ribbon Award (1960) – Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor


  • Berlin International Film Festival (1960) – Golden Berlin Bear


Japan, 2002, 111 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: MATSUI Hisako

A poignant tale of a housewife coming to grips with her mother-in-law's senility. Tomoe is an ordinary housewife in an ordinary Japanese suburb whose life is disrupted when her mother-in-law Masako moves in. Masako (portrayed by veteran actress YOSHIYUKI Kazuko) is eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and Tomoe's workaholic husband Yuzo demands that she quit her part-time job to care for Masako full-time. But she later convinces him that Masako should be admitted into a home. On Masako's last night with them in the house, she begins to reminisce about the past and Tomoe, already feeling guilty, slowly has a change of heart.

The title of Matsui's film evokes a broken apricot branch with the ability to flower again: fitting for a work that raised awareness on elderly issues, and inspired grassroots action in rural areas across Japan, showing “the power that movies have in changing lives, bringing people together and reviving community spirit.” (Asahi Shimbun)

Official site

       Post-screening discussion

After this screening of "Oriume", SFS is glad to welcome Dr Ang Peng Chye, President of the Alzheimer's Disease Association, and Ms Linda Chua, Committee Member, Alzheimer's Disease Association to discuss the film with the audience, and help answer questions on Alzheimer's disease and on caregiving.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) was formed in 1990 as a result of growing concern for the needs of people with dementia and their families. ADA is a voluntary welfare organization and is made up of caregivers, professionals and all who are interested in dementia.

Find out more about the ADA at

Gabai Granny
(佐賀のがばいばあちゃん / Saga no gabai baachan)

Japan, 2006, 104 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: PG
Directed by: KURAUCHI Hitoshi

When his bar-hostess mother (Kudoh Youki, who has appeared in Snow Falling on Cedars (1999) and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) ) finds it a struggle to support her two sons, 7-year-old Akihiro is sent to live with his grandmother. Set in a rural village in southern Japan in the late 1950s, the story revolves round “gabai” (super) Granny (Yoshiyuki Kazuko from Oshima Nagisa's Empire of Senses (1976)) and Akihiro, who ends up living with her for eight years. Granny is an expert at positive thinking and through her, Akihiro learns to see the bright side of their poor post-war life and learns never to give up despite the odds. Based on the bestseller Saga no Gabai Baachan (Gabai Granny from Saga) (2005), in which popular comedian Shimada Yôshichi (the other half of Kitano Takeshi's original comedy double-act) depicts his childhood memories.


  • Official Selection, Shanghai International Film Festival (2006)

Post-Screening Dialogue Session with Yoshiyuki Kazuko

Ms Yoshiyuki will join the audience in a discussion on her films and experience as an actress.

Life Can Be So Wonderful
(世界は時々美しい / Sekai wa tokidoki utsukushii)

Japan, 2006, 70 min, Colour, 35mm, Drama, Rating: M18
Directed by: MINORIKAWA Osamu

Young writer-director Minorikawa has made his first feature film, a collection of five stories of solitude and melancholy set in urban Japan in which he manages to capture the quiet beauty in everyday life: an aging nude model's relationship to nature; an elderly alcoholic man's reflection on his lifelong passion for booze and bars; a young woman's ambivalent relationship with her sexual partner; a young astronomer's reaction to his girlfriend's pregnancy; and a lonely travel agent's interactions with her protective mother.

Official site

Moon and Cherry
(月とチェリー / Tsuki to Cherry

Japan, 2005, 82 mins, Colour, Betacam, Drama, Rating: R21
Directed by: TANADA Yuki


A sweet, sassy movie about how a student Tadokoro (Nagaoka) joins his university's obscure erotic writing club, and ventures into a game of sexual cat and mouse with the only female student in the club, who is really using him to aid her writing.

Movie Review

Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story
(めぐみ 引き裂かれた家族の30年 / Megumi hikisakareta kazoku no sanjyuunen

Japan, 2006, 85 min, Colour, DVD, Documentary, Rating: PG
Directed by: Patty KIM, Chris SHERIDAN


This is the remarkable story of a 13-year-old Japanese girl abducted on her way home from school by North Korean spies in 1977. For 20 years, her parents had no idea what had happened to her or even if she was still alive. Then, one day the whole world learned the shocking truth.
This is a human story about a strange, painful journey, full of bizarre twists as an ordinary banker and his housewife are caught up in a life they could never have imagined. Ultimately, ABDUCTION is a moving, emotional testament to the unbreakable bonds of love.


  • Slamdance Film Festival (2006) – Audience Award (Best Documentary)
  • Austin Film Festival (2006) – Documentary Film Award
  • San Francisco IAAFF (2006) – Jury Prize (Best Documentary)

Official site