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Film fest showcases contemporary Japanese culture

Jan. 16, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The Japan Foundation Midwest Film Festival visits Western Michigan University Jan. 22 through March 11, presenting five films on contemporary Japanese culture and the powerful, uninhibited youth who are redefining it.

All screenings are open to the public free of charge. Shows will begin at 7 p.m. in WMU's Little Theatre, located at the corner of Oakland Drive and Oliver Street.

"Pacchigi," directed by Kazuyuki Izutsu (2004), will be shown Tuesday, Jan. 22. Awarded the top spot in Japan's prestigious 2006 Kinema Junpo critics poll, this film doles out equal amounts of tender romance and bottle-breaking brawls in a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set amidst warring clans of Japanese and Korean students in the 1960s. The film has a run time of 119 minutes and is shown in Japanese and Korean with English subtitles.

"Water Boys," directed by Shinobu Yaguchi (2001), will be shown Tuesday, Feb. 5. "Water Boys" is a comedy about a group of high school boys influenced by their attractive new swim coach. After deciding to form the first all-male high school synchronized swim team, the boys realize they're so pathetic they can barely keep themselves afloat. They are driven to persevere, despite their coach's sudden pregnancy. The film has a run time of 91 minutes and is shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

"All Under the Moon," directed by Yoichi Sai (1993), is the Tuesday, Feb. 19 offering. The film is about Chung Nam, one of the millions of Korean residents living in Japan. Like the others, Nam remains unassimilated to the country and without citizenship after several generations. Anti-Korean prejudice is strong, so he calls himself by the Japanese-sounding name, "Tadao." He earns his living by driving for a Korean-owned taxi company. Nam dislikes his mother and the more recent immigrants who frequent her sleazy nightclub. But, even he cannot resist the charm of his mother's new hire, a beautiful young woman from the Philippines. The film has a run time of 109 minutes and is shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

"Hanging Garden," directed by Toshiaki Toyoda (2005), will be shown Tuesday, Feb. 26. The film revolves around a seemingly perfect family. Bright, with sound finances and a large home, they talk about everything honestly--no omissions, no taboo subjects. But, situations aren't as perfect as they seem. Mother has a vicious streak. Father has a pair of mistresses. Son is nearly a shut in, and daughter is experimenting with sex. Each member of the family has huge secrets tucked away from the others. The film has a run time of 113 minutes and is shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

"Linda Linda Linda," directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita (2005), will be shown Tuesday, March 11. With just three days until their high school festival, guitarist Kei, drummer Kyoko, and bassist Nozomi are forced to recruit a new lead vocalist for their band. They choose Son, a Korean exchange student who speaks Japanese that is broken at best. It's a race against time as the group struggles to learn three tunes for the festival's rock concert, including a classic 1980s punk song by the Japanese group, Blue Hearts. The film has a run time of 114 minutes and is shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

The 2008 Japan Foundation Midwest Film Festival is presented by WMU's Soga Japan Center and is co-sponsored by the Japan-America Society of West Michigan. For more information, visit www.wmich.edu/sogajapancenter, or contact Dr. Steve Covell at s.covell@wmich.edu or (269) 387-4365.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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