JFF 18 – Everything Dublin film fans need to know

The Japanese Film Festival returns this weekend, bringing top quality Japanese cinema to Irish viewers throughout April. Now in it’s landmark 10th year, the 2018 edition of the festival will feature a diverse and densely packed programme of films, including work from some of the most acclaimed filmmakers from contemporary Japanese cinema. Probably Ireland’s most transnational festival, this year JFF will be hosting screenings at venues in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, Sligo, Waterford, Dundalk and of course, Dublin, as part of a concerted effort to spread Japanese cinema and culture to as many Irish eyes as possible. We’ve got the full selection of films showing in the capital this month for you to go through.

JFF 18 will be taking place throughout the country from April 8th – 22nd. Among the highlights in the festival’s programming is unquestionably the eagerly anticipated anime Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Directed by Oscar-nominated Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was ThereArriety), the film is set in the magical world of a school for witches, a blend of magic and fantasy that has charmed plenty of audiences already and now makes its way to Ireland. The film and will be shown in its original Japanese language version with English subtitles in both the Light House Cinema and Movies@Dundrum. With the sad passing of Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata yesterday, it’s some comfort at least that Japanese animation is continuing to thrive.

The Embassy of Japan, access>CINEMA and the Ireland Japan Association are co-organisers of the Japanese Film Festival, with the support of the Japan Foundation.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower
10 April 2018 | 6.30pm
Light House Cinema

10 April 2018 | 8.00pm

Set in the magical world of a school for witches, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a sublime blend of magic and fantasy that will sweep audiences along with its charming, heartfelt adventure.


Survival Family
12 April 2018 | 6.45pm
Light House Cinema

One fateful day, the Suzuki family – your typical Tokyo middle class family – wake up to a changed world. The electricity has stopped flowing, technology is no longer working, and people aren’t quite sure how to handle it. As the days pass, an initially confusing situation turns desperate – food is running short, prices are inflating rapidly, and society has effectively shut down. With no idea of how the rest of the country – or indeed the world – is faring, the Suzukis decide to leave the city in the hope of finding food and shelter deeper in the countryside. So, with only their bikes and a limited caché of supplies, they embark on an epic, dangerous road trip across a country that is falling apart.

Passage of Life

13 April 2018 | 6.00pm
Light House Cinema

Several years after leaving Myanmar, Khin and husband Issace are living in Japan with their two sons, Kaung and Htet. They have settled down and are living a relatively comfortable life. However, despite repeated applications, they still have not been granted formal refugee status. After receiving a letter bearing bad news, Khin decides to return to Myanmar with the two boys. Issace, however, is unwilling to return home, and he decides to stay in Japan to earn some money for his wife and children and continue the formal immigration process. Split across two countries, all members of the family find themselves adjusting to a whole new way of life, particularly seven-year-old Kaung.


Snow Woman
13 April 2018 | 8.30pm
Light House Cinema

One snowy evening, a young hunter Minokichi and his older mentor Mosaku take shelter in an old mountain cabin. As the pair try to keep warm, a ghostly woman enters the cabin and kills the older man by spraying him with her icy breath. However, she spares Minokichi on the condition that he keeps silent about what he has seen. The freezing night passes, and the young man makes it home. Some time later, he meets the beautiful, mysterious Yuki, but he dare not utter a word about her striking similarity to the ghostly snow woman. Minokichi and Yuki marry, and soon they have a daughter named Ume. But as Ume grows older, the events of that fateful night on the mountain continue to haunt Minokichi and his family.


Tokyo Ghoul
13 April 2018 | 10:30pm
Light House Cinema

Based on a manga by Sui Ishida, Tokyo Ghoul unfolds in an alternative modern-day Japan where superhuman beings known as Ghouls live among us. These vampire-like creatures look like humans but are actually monsters that feed solely on human flesh. None of this matter to Ken Kaneki, an ordinary Tokyo student, until his life changes following a dark and violent encounter that turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human hybrid. Forced to become a fugitive from his fellow humans, Kaneki is accepted by a group of Ghouls who teach him about Ghoul society, his new super-powers, and the fine line between man and monster.

Her Sketchbook
14 April 2018 | 11:00am
Light House Cinema

Over the last five years, Mami (Mugi Kadowaki) has barely left her house. She is a ‘hikikomori’ – a young adult who has become a social recluse. She instead spends most of her time drawing fantasy characters in her sketchbook. Worried about his daughter’s well-being, her father Eisuke finds Mami a job working as a video-game tester. While Mami tries to keep to herself in her new role, a colleague named Ryotaro happens to discover his new co-worker’s talent for drawing. Facing tight deadlines, Ryotaro decides to get Mami on board as a member of the studio’s art team. But the challenge of drawing insular Mami out of her self-imposed shell proves to be no small undertaking…


Dad’s Lunch Box
14 April 2018 | 1.30pm
Light House Cinema

A father (Toshimi Watanabe) decides to start making a bento box (lunch box) for his daughter Midori (Rena Takeda) before she heads off to high school every day. At first, the experiment doesn’t go so well – the food isn’t great, and one day the fish even turns out to be rotten. However, the father decides to stick with it, and before long his culinary skills start to bloom. Midori, meanwhile, tries to navigate the challenges of being a teenager. With father and daughter busy living their own lives, the daily bento box soon becomes an important daily ritual for them both.



Anthem of the Heart
14 April 2018 | 3.30pm
Light House Cinema

When young Jun Naruse spots her father with another woman, she innocently tells her mother what she has seen – a revelation that leads to the parents’ divorce. Jun is horrified at what has happened, and is visited by a mysterious talking egg who appears to steal away her ability to talk. Years later, Jun is a high school student who still refuses to speak a word. When she end up on a school committee with classmates Takumi, Natsuki and Daiki, they wind up with a very specific task: put together a musical. While Jun is unable to talk, she becomes determined to try and sing. As she grows closer to her three new friends, Jun gains a new-found confidence… but shaking off her inability to speak proves to be a serious challenge.


Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
14 April 2018 | 6.00pm
Light House Cinema

Maquia belongs to an elf-like race called the Iolph, who live for hundreds of years while maintaining a youthful appearance. One day, the peaceful existence of these people is shattered by an invasion of humans seeking Iolph blood believing it will gift eternal life. Maquia manages to escape but as she flees, she discovers an orphaned human baby; she decides to raise him as her own, naming him Erial. But as the boy grows older and he becomes aware that Maquia doesn’t age, their relationship becomes strained.

Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High
14 April 2018 | 10.45pm
Light House Cinema

Private high school student Teiichi has one modest goal in life: to become prime minister of Japan. For this driven teenager, there’s one important step he must achieve on his path to the highest office in the land: being elected president of the school student council. He’s only a junior, however, so before his own campaign he must first throw his support behind one of this year’s candidates. Arrogant but charismatic Rorando emerges as a favourite, closely trailed by quiet genius Okuto. Teiichi tactically chooses a side, but soon finds himself caught in a campaign of dirty tricks and corruption. With the election growing ever nastier, Teiichi is forced to question both his current allegiances and his own future political ambitions.


Dear Etranger
15 April 2018 | 1.00pm
Light House Cinema

It’s been several years since Makoto divorced his first wife. He has remained a loving father to their daughter Saori, despite not seeing her as often as he’d like. He has also long-since remarried, and lives a mostly happy life with his second wife Nanae. While he has a great relationship with Nanae’s youngest child Eriko, his older foster daughter Kaoru has struggled to accept his presence. When Nanae announces she is pregnant, the fissures in the family suddenly start to become more pronounced. Things become even more fraught when Eriko starts asking about meeting her estranged biological father – a man who has a dark history. As the tensions mount, Makoto finds himself wondering if his second marriage is destined to go in the same direction as his first.



The Sower
15 April 2018 | 3.30pm
Light House Cinema
Mitsuo has just been released after a stint in a mental hospital, and is welcomed back into the home of his brother, sister-in-law and two young nieces. It is a happy reunion, and Mitsuo is determined to get his life back on track. One day, he takes his nieces out to a local amusement park. However, tragedy strikes when the youngest girl, Itsuki, is seriously injured. The older girl, Chie, is the only witness – and when she is quizzed about the circumstances of the accident, she falsely blames Mitsuo. It’s a lie that will have major repercussions for the entire family…



At the Terrace

15 April 2018 | 6.00pm
Light House Cinema

As a dinner party winds down, a few people gather on the terrace at the back of a lavish suburban home. At first, the conversation is polite – there’s only two or three two couples, but most are only casual acquaintances or colleagues. However, after a couple of awkward moments and the arrival of a few more people, things start getting a bit more interesting. Over the course of a few hours, the increasingly drunken group witnesses salacious revelations, imploding relationships, and even some unexpected affairs.


15 April 2018 | 8.00pm
Light House Cinema

When her mother disappears from home – not for the first time – 11-year-old Tomo finds herself once again taken in by her loving uncle Makio. This time things are a little different, as Makio is no longer living alone – he’s instead sharing his home with his partner Rinko, a transgender woman. The situation is initially confusing for Tomo and Rinko, with both finding themselves spending a lot of time with an unexpected roommate. However, they quickly bond over food, video games, and knitting. This unlikely family grows ever closer, but they find themselves wondering how long it can last before Tomo’s mother returns home…



About Luke Dunne

Luke is a writer, film addict and Dublin native who loves how much there is for film fans in his home county. A former writer for FilmFixx and the Freakin' Awesome Network, he founded Film In Dublin to pursue his dual dreams of writing about film and never sleeping ever again.

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