Free Opening Event and Screening of Anime Feature Your Name on February 1 Launches Month-Long Festival, Made Possible by 10-Year Partnership with UNIQLO USA
BOSTON (January 2, 2018)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), today announces the inaugural edition of the Boston Festival of Films from Japan, made possible through a 10-year partnership with UNIQLO USA that supports a variety of new programs highlighting Japanese art and culture. The BFFJ will bring a wide range of the best films from Japan to Boston. The 2018 selections, screening February 1–28, include the live-action manga adaptation Blade of the Immortal (2017), the 100th feature film from provocative director Takashi Miike; the timely documentary Resistance at Tule Lake (2017), which chronicles a 1943 uprising at a Japanese concentration camp in California; and Jellyfish Eyes (2013), the debut film by contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, whose works are on view in the MFA’s exhibition Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics, A Collaboration with Nobuo Tsuji and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The festival kicks off February 1 with a free screening of Your Name (2016), an anime feature with gorgeous imagery and deep emotional resonance that quickly became one of the most popular films of all time in Japan. The 7:30 pm screening will be preceded by a celebration in the MFA’s Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, starting at 6 pm and featuring live music by DJ Ian Condry, art-making activities and Japanese candies and confections at Taste Café. Free tickets for the event can be reserved starting at 10 am on January 30 and will grant attendees free admission to Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics before and after the film screening. This Japanese Program at the MFA is generously supported by a 10-year partnership with UNIQLO USA.
With the exception of the opening night screening of Your Name on February 1, tickets for BFFJ films are $9 for MFA members and XPass holders and $11 for nonmembers, and will be available starting January 18. Showtimes will be published on mfa.org on January 11. Screeners for all films in the festival are available for members of the press upon request; please email Katherine Irving at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BFFJ 2018 Films
Your Name (Kimi no na wa.)
Directed by Makoto Shinkai (Japan, 2016, 107 min.). Digital.
Gorgeous imagery and a universally resonant story made Makoto Shinkai’s masterpiece Your Name one of the highest-grossing films of all time in Japan. The film follows a teenage girl named Mitsuha who dreams of leaving her small mountain town to try her luck in Tokyo, and a teenage boy named Taki who lives in Toyko and dreams of becoming an architect. One night, the two miraculously exchange bodies. As they adjust to their new lives, Mitsuha and Taki discover a way to communicate with each other across the vast distance between them—but they long to meet in real life. When a dazzling comet lights up the night sky, it threatens to keep them apart forever. Watch the trailer.
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High (Teiichi no kuni)
Directed by Akira Nagai (Japan, 2017, 118 min.). Digital.
Based on the manga Teiichi no kuni by Usamaru Furuya, this spectacular teen comedy follows Teiichi Akaba, a student at a prestigious private male high school known for producing important politicians and bureaucrats. To achieve his dream of eventually becoming prime minister of his own empire, Teiichi must first be elected student council president, a position that promises special privileges and a better shot at political opportunities after graduation. The race for the presidency rapidly escalates to hilarious extremes of bribery, sabotage, and scandal. Watch the trailer.
Blade of the Immortal (Mugen no jūnin)
Directed by Takashi Miike (Japan, 2017, 151 min.). Digital.
Based on a popular manga of the same name, the 100th film by master director Takashi Miike (13 Assassins) tells the epic tale of Manji, a highly skilled samurai who becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will allow him to regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine. Watch the trailer.
Directed by Kiyoko Miyake (Japan/UK/Canada, 2017, 90 min.). Digital.
This documentary offers a provocative look into the meteoric rise of the “girl band” in Japan. The story is told through Rio, a bona fide “Tokyo Idol” with a following of “Brothers”—middle-aged male super fans who have devoted their lives to following Rio on the internet and in real life. Once considered to be on the fringes of society, the Brothers, who gave up salaried jobs to pursue an interest in female idol culture, have now become a mainstream phenomenon via internet exposure, illuminating a growing disconnect between men and women in hypermodern societies. Watch the trailer.
Resistance at Tule Lake
Directed by Konrad Aderer (USA, 2017, 78 min.). Digital.
During World War II, up to 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in camps in the western U.S. The dominant narrative about these camps tells us that Japanese Americans behaved as a “model minority,” cooperating without protest and proving their patriotism by enlisting in the Army. Konrad Aderer’s documentary overturns this misconception, telling the story of 12,000 Japanese Americans labeled “disloyal” because they dared to resist the US government’s mandate of mass incarceration at Tule Lake Segregation Center. Through rare footage and the voices of survivors and their descendants, Resistance at Tule Lake illuminates stories of dissent marginalized for 70 years—even more vital today amidst new threats to the rights of immigrants and minorities. Watch the trailer.
Harmonium (Fuchi ni tatsu)
Directed by Kōji Fukada (Japan, 2016, 118 min.). Digital.
With his highly perceptive attention to character, director Kōji Fukada creates an explosive family drama with Harmonium. Intended as a companion piece to the black comedy Hospitalité (2010), Harmonium captures the collapse of a seemingly ordinary Japanese family. Life for Toshio, his wife, and their younger daughter Hotaru carries on as usual until he hires the mysterious Mr. Yasaka, an old acquaintance dressed in white who has just been released from prison, in his workshop. Harmonium captivated critics and audiences alike during the 69th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize. Watch the trailer.
Directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi (Japan/US, 2017, 95 min.). Digital.
Setsuko is a lonely woman stuck in a dull office job and leading an emotionally unfulfilling life in Tokyo. One day she’s convinced by her niece Mika to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named Lucy. This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister Ayako, and the pair flies halfway across the world to Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of Lucy. Watch the trailer.
Over the Fence (Ōbā fensu)
Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita (Japan, 2016, 112 min.). Digital.
In this unique romance, a recently divorced man named Shiraiwa (Joe Odagiri) relocates to another town to start a new life. Shiraiwa, whose marriage ended under traumatic circumstances, begins the process of healing in his own way—he signs up for carpentry lessons at a vocational school, and starts training for the upcoming season of local baseball. When one of his classmates brings him to a local “hostess club,” Shiraiwa meets an eccentric hostess, Satoshi, who takes an instant liking to him, and the two form a unique bond. Over the Fence is the third in a trilogy of adaptations based on short stories by Japanese novelist Sato Yasushi, who wrote extensively about a fictional seaside town based on his home city of Hakodate. Watch the trailer.
Directed by Lee Sang-il (Japan, 2016, 142 min.). Digital.
Korean-Japanese filmmaker Lee Sang-il directs this thriller about an unsolved double murder, where the only obvious clue is the word “RAGE” scrawled in blood at the scene of the crime. The film is comprised of three seemingly unrelated tales, linked only by the fact that each protagonist is a prime suspect in the murder case. A typically masterful score by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto brings a note of elegance to this cleverly crafted mystery. Watch the trailer.
Jellyfish Eyes (Mememe no kurage)
Directed by Takashi Murakami (Japan, 2013, 101 min.). Digital.
Artist Takashi Murakami made his directorial debut with Jellyfish Eyes, taking his boundless imagination to the screen in a tale of friendship and loyalty that also addresses humanity’s propensity for destruction. After moving to a country town with his mother following his father’s death, a young boy befriends a charming, flying, jellyfish-like sprite—only to discover that his schoolmates have similar friends, and that neither they nor the town itself are what they seem to be. Pointedly set in a post-Fukushima world, Murakami’s special-effects extravaganza, made on a modest budget, boasts unforgettable creature designs and carries a message of cooperation and hope for all ages. Watch the trailer.
UNIQLO’s partnership with the MFA is the latest for the Japan-based company, which currently supports art and culture initiatives worldwide. In addition to the BFFJ, initiatives resulting from the collaboration include “Junior Artists,” a series of Saturday drop-in activities for children ages 5–8 and their families, as well as art-making activities taking place during the Museum’s annual School Vacation Week (December 26–31) that are inspired by traditional themes and motifs in Japanese art. Art-making activities have also been hosted at UNIQLO locations throughout Massachusetts, engaging staff and shoppers in art on view at the MFA, which houses the finest collection of Japanese art outside of Japan. More programmatic, promotional and collection-based collaborations are in the works for the months and years ahead.
The Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Film Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is funded by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation.
Also made possible with endowment support from the Katharine Stone White Film Fund, the Museum Film Program Endowment Fund, the Dean W. Freed Fund, the Marilyn and Selwyn Kudisch Endowed Fund for the Benefit of the Film Program, the MFA Associates and MFA Senior Associates Fund for Film and Video, and the Margaret L. Hargrove Fund. A gift from an anonymous Friend of Film makes program notes for select events possible. Visits by film and video artists are made possible by the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation Fund and the Lowell Foundation.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia; Art of Africa and Oceania; Art of the Ancient World; Prints and Drawings; Photography; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–5 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–10 pm. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25), while five Open Houses offer the opportunity to visit the Museum for free. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For more information, call 617.267.9300, visit mfa.org or follow the MFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About UNIQLO and Fast Retailing
UNIQLO is a brand of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., a leading global Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing under seven main brands: Comptoir des Cotonniers, GU, Helmut Lang, J Brand, Princesse tam.tam, Theory, and UNIQLO. With global sales of approximately 1.7864 trillion yen for the 2016 fiscal year ending August 31, 2016 (US $17.31 billion, calculated in yen using the end of August 2016 rate of $1 = 103.2 yen), Fast Retailing is the world’s third largest apparel retail companies, and UNIQLO is Japan’s leading specialty retailer. With a corporate statement committed to changing clothes, changing conventional wisdom and change the world, Fast Retailing is dedicated to creating great clothing with new and unique value to enrich the lives of people everywhere.
UNIQLO continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world’s most important cities and locations, as part of its ongoing efforts to solidify its status as a truly global brand. Today the company has more than 1,800 stores in 18 markets worldwide including Japan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K. and the U.S. In addition, Grameen UNIQLO, a social business established in Bangladesh in September 2010, currently operates several Grameen UNIQLO stores in Dhaka. For more information about UNIQLO and Fast Retailing, please visit www.uniqlo.com and www.fastretailing.com.