The Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 will be buzzing with activity from March 31 to April 9 as the curtain rises on the 2017 Hawaii International Film Festival’s Spring Showcase presented by Halekulani. On tap for this 20th edition of the Spring Showcase will be 32 feature films from 12 countries, including nine from Japan — nearly all premieres — five Hawai‘i, one U.S. and one international.
“HIFF Spring Showcase has always been an opportunity for us to be on the forefront of the hottest film festival films and bring them to Hawaii,” stated Anderson Le, co-director of programming, in a HIFF press release. HIFF is known for its strong focus on Asian films, and this year’s showcase lives up to that reputation.
The Spring Showcase is also bringing back director Juzo Itami’s classic “ramen western,” “Tampopo,” in a newly remastered version. “Tampopo” is considered one of Japan’s greatest films of all time.
The following are Japanese films in the Spring Showcase.
“TAMPOPO” (Return Engagement)
Japan 1985 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 114 min.
Director: Juzo Itami
HIFF is pleased to present a special showing of the newly restored Juzo Itami classic, “Tampopo,” a HIFF festival favorite and all around foodie film extraordinaire. This Japanese “noodle western” is a must-see on the big screen. When two truck drivers (Tsutomu Yamazaki and Ken Watanabe) come upon a struggling restaurant owner (Nobuko Miyamoto), they teach her how to cook the greatest of noodles.
Screening: April 1, 3 p.m.
“HAMON: YAKUZA BOOGIE” (Special Presentation)
Japan 2017 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 120 min.
Director: Shotaro Kobayashi
Keisuke is a middleman, a go-between for gangsters in their construction dealings. His primary yakuza contact is the unscrupulous Kuwabara-san. One day, the two meet a slightly shady movie producer and their yakuza boss is quick to invest in his film. But when the producer runs off with the money, Keisuke and Kuwabara suddenly find themselves in the middle of a yakuza conflict with their necks on the line. They must find that missing producer — or else!
Screenings: April 1, 5:30 p.m. and April 9, 4:45 p.m.
“HER LOVE BOILS BATHWATER” (Hawai‘i Premiere)
Japan 2016 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 125 min.
Director: Ryota Nakano
Futaba (Rie Miyazawa) has a tender side and a tough side, and a daughter, Azumi (Hana Sugisaki). After learning that she doesn’t have much time left to live, Futaba decides she must do four things before she dies: 1) find her missing husband and get him to resume the family bathhouse business; 2) get her daughter to stand on her own; 3) find the right man for Azumi; and 4) take action related to her long-kept secret.
Screenings: April 2, 7:30 p.m. and April 9, 2 p.m.
“OUR MEAL FOR TOMORROW” (Hawai‘i Premiere)
Japan 2017 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 109 min.
Director: Masahide Ichii
Ryota and Koharu meet in high school and are destined to fall in love despite their being polar opposites. In college, however, Koharu suddenly breaks up with Ryota, driven by a secret she keeps from him. Seven years later, Ryota, now a salaryman, is still in love with Koharu. One day, he learns the truth behind her decision and decides to seek her out for one last chance at love.
Screenings: April 2, 2:30 p.m. and April
4, 5:45 p.m.
“NEKO ATSUME” (International Premiere)
Japan 2017 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 92 min.
Director: Masatoshi Kurakata
Katsu Sakumoto is a bestselling author whose publisher and fans are eagerly awaiting his next book. Unfortunately, he has writer’s block, so he decides to retreat to a country village to write. Alas, he still has no inspiration and becomes depressed. One day, a cat wanders into his yard. When Katsu tries to talk to it, it runs away. He decides to leave out some food. The next day, the cat returns. Then another cat shows up, and another . . . Based on the popular mobile game of the same name.
Screenings: April 3, 6 p.m. and April 8, 3 p.m.
“MUSEUM” (U.S. Premiere)
Japan 2016 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 132 min.
Director: Keishi Ohtomo
Based on the popular horror manga, “Museum” chronicles a series of grotesque murder cases that take place only on rainy days. Just as he has done on past cases, detective Hisashi Sawamura (Shun Oguri) works to catch the murderer. He soon realizes, however, that the murderer’s next target is his own family. With macabre murder scenes and a high-octane pulse, “Museum” is an engaging thriller that bends the serial killer genre.
Screenings: April 5, 8 p.m. and April 7, 8:45 p.m.
“THE MOHICAN COMES HOME” (Hawai‘i Premiere)
Japan 2016 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 124 min.
Director: Shuichi Okita
Eikichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) left Hiroshima for Tökyö years ago to find success with his rock band, only to fail. Several years later, he returns home to tell his father Osamu (Akira Emoto) that his girlfriend is pregnant. Needless to say, Osamu is angry. But he’s also excited about becoming a grandfather. With offbeat comic timing, this latest family “dramedy” from Shuichi Okita (“The Woodsman and the Rain”) showcases why he is one of the best Japanese directors working today.
Screenings: April 6, 5:45 p.m. and April 8, 12:15 p.m.
“RAGE” (Hawai‘i Premiere)
Japan 2016 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 142 min.
Director: Lee Sang-Il
An unsolved double-murder in Tökyö brings out the worst instincts in three sets of people (a star-studded cast led by Ken Watanabe) in “Rage,” a potboiler based on the famous mystery novel of the same name. The film weaves together three unrelated stories set in three different cities across Japan and Okinawa a year after the homicide involving the arrival of a mysterious drifter with an unspeakable past.
Screenings: April 6, 8:15 p.m. and April 8, 7:45 p.m.
“TÖKYÖ IDOLS” (Hawai‘i Premiere)
Canada, United Kingdom, Japan 2017 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | 90 min.
Director: Kyoko Miyake
Girl bands and pop music permeate Japanese life. Meet Ri Ri, a bonafide “Tökyö Idol” who takes us on her journey to fame. Now meet her “brothers,” a group of adult male super fans, or otaku, who devote their lives to following her in the virtual world and in real life. Once considered to be on the fringes of society, the brothers have become mainstream via the internet, illuminating the growing disconnect between men and women in hypermodern societies.
Screenings: April 7, 8:15 p.m. and April 9, 2:15 p.m.