Lesbian Feature Films in 11th Annual Japan Cuts Fest
A festival of new Japanese cinema in NYC includes two intelligent, expertly crafted feature films featuring powerful lesbian storylines.
The Extremists' Opera
Queer cinema produced in Japan is extremely rare, so it’s good news that two films of the 28 features in this year's Japan Cuts film festival, now in its 11th year, represent the LGBTQ+ community.
The Extremists’ Opera (directed by Junko Emoto) will have its International Premiere on Wed. July 19 at 8:45 pm. This film starts with a bang and is erotically charged, capturing the creative chaos of a nascent all-female theater company. Theater director and lesbian womanizer Naoko is holding auditions in an old garage for the debut, as yet unwritten, of her newly-formed troupe, and meets an odd assortment of female characters—actors ranging from extroverted to eccentric, some perhaps a little desperate. She is particularly mesmerized by Haru, who she chooses to be the lead of the play, and she uses her directorial power to pursue her attraction to Haru. But this being the theater, where people can be drama queens, complications ensue—jealousy, intrigue, and competition in the lead up to opening night. Based on her own semi-autobiographical novel Kokan, cult theater director and actress Junko Emoto makes her directorial debut in this playful and chaotic study of creativity. This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older.
West North West (directed by Takuro Nakamura) will be having its North American premiere on Sat. July 22 at 4:15 pm. The film will be introduced and a Q&A with stars Hanae Kan and Sahel Rosa will follow the screening. West North West tells the story of a Naima, an exchange student from Tehran studying art (Sahel Rosa) who is under pressure. She instantly connects with the attractive, intense but melancholy Kei (Hanae Kan) in a Tokyo cafe and confides her feelings in Kei, a streetwise and rebellious bartender with punk attitude. While Naima is a serious academic with a religious background and asks "Why?", Kei responds "Why not?" In spite of their cultural and emotional differences an attraction between them grows. An added complication: Kei’s anti-Muslim on-again, off-again model girlfriend Ai (Yuka Yamauchi). This moody love triangle melodrama is beautifully shot and features memorable, rarely represented characters enlivened by Takuro Nakamura’s sensual, atmospheric direction and bold performances.
JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film, July 13-23, 2017, at Japan Society. For more info and tickets go here.
About Japan Cuts:
North America’s premiere showcase for new Japanese cinema screens the best and boldest films from Japan never before seen in NYC with special guest filmmakers and stars, post-screening Q&As, parties and more. Boasting a thrilling slate of epic blockbusters, shoestring independents, radical documentaries, mind-bending avant-garde, newly-restored classics and breathtaking animation, JAPAN CUTS 2017 presents a wide-ranging selection of films that reveal the multiplicity of identities and layers of culture that shape Japanese film today—including international co-productions and adaptations, new LGBTQ cinema, female directors, and deeply relevant histories of WWII and nuclear trauma.
Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org