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Festival news

Cinematic solace – the Japan Feel-Good section at Five Flavours

13 October 2022
Itoż. Satoko Yokohama

This year's Japan Feel-Good section is an invitation to slow down. The program includes eight distinctive films with one common denominator – the space for soothing, which nowadays seems to be scarcer than ever. Five Flavours decided to meet this demand and offer narrations filled with calming energy, created by renown filmmakers.

Full program of the Japan Feel-Good section:

  • Funky Forest: The First Contact, dir. Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, Shinichiro Miki, Japan 2005, Polish premiere
  • Dance With Me, dir. Satoko Yokohama, Japan 2021, Polish premiere
  • Rent-a-Cat, dir. Naoko Ogigami, Japan 2012
  • One Summer Story, dir. Shuichi Okita, Japan 2020, Polish premiere
  • Tsuyukusa, Hideyuki Hirayama, Japan 2022, Polish premiere
  • My Sweet Grappa Remedies, dir. Akiko Ohku, Japan 2019, Polish premiere
  • Mori, the Artist's Habitat, dir. Shuichi Okita, Japan 2018, Polish premiere
  • The Fish Tale, dir. Shuichi Okita, Japan 2022, European premiere (cinema only)

Apart from the previously announced mini-review of films by Shuichi Okita, and the screenings of the cult Funky Forest: The First Contact, the Japan Feel-Good section is made up of four soothing stories that are guaranteed to lift your spirits and change your outlook on life. Satoko Yokohama's Dance With Me talks about searching for your inner sound – it is a lovely, kind comedy about how the traditional shamisen music can resonate beautifully even in a maido-cafe. The protagonist of Hideyuki Hirayama's Tsuyukusa – a slow-paced dramedy about the dynamic of the Japanese countryside – is also immersed in sound. The routine and localness of the story alone are enough to create a kind-hearted feel-good movie. Another master of soothing narrations is Akiko Ohku, whose My Sweet Grappa Remedies shows the power of sisterhood and the Italian grappa as an antidote to the metropolitan hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Closing the section is a screening dedicated to our friend and mentor, Jagoda Murczyńska, whose memory and festival achievements will be honored with one of her favorite films, Naoko Ogigami's Rent-a-Cat – a heart-warming story about how we all need a little affection in our lives.

The section is a nod to our viewer's longing for the culinary and traveling films, the absolute hits of the Festival's 2020 program. The titles included in the Japan Feel-Good section enter into dialog with the themes familiar to Five Flavours' audiences – provincialism, localness, slow life, and the need to rest. It is a chance to deepen the relationship with nature, explore the lesser-known aspects of Japanese culture, and to revise our notions about the stereotypes that grew around Japan.

Funky Forest: The First Contact

Naisu no mori: The First Contact
dir. Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine, Shinichiro Miki
Japan 2005, 150'
Polish premiere
(cinema + online)

Manzai comedy sketches filled with black humor; performances of a not-so-serious musical ensemble; bodies hooked up to machines straight from David Cronenberg's wet dreams; pointless discussions of Japanese stereotypes – Funky Forest: The First Contact is the crowning achievement of the informal Japanese New Weird movement which gained a cult status immediately after its premiere. Every screening of this beautifully absurd comedy is a collective experience of the full spectrum of the grotesque.

Dance With Me

dir. Satoko Yokohama, Japan 2021, 116'
Polish premiere
(cinema + online)

A shy girl with an old-school name Ito, speaking in a provincial dialect, starts working at a maido-cafe in Aomori. Even though the women in her family are famous for playing the Tsugaru shamisen, Ito has not yet found her own sound, the itomichi. Going against everyone, she follows her own path, searching for her identity between tradition and modernity.


dir. Naoko Ogigami, Japan 2012, 110'
(cinema + online)

screening dedicated to Jagoda Murczyńska

The "cat whisperer" Sayoko decides to start renting out the fluffy vagabonds that always surround her to those with something weighing on their souls. Sayoko herself is not unlike a cat – she always follows her own path, but she, too, can feel lonely. Naoko Ogigami talks about this experience without easy sentimentality, creating a warm-colored picture, filled colorful characters and cat purring, a pleasant, yet intelligent story about an original way of life.


dir. Hideyuki Hirayama, Japan 2022, 95'
Polish premiere
(cinema + online)

An unhurried comedy about Fumi, a middle-aged woman working at a sewing factory. One day, a meteorite slams into her car. Fumi sees it as a good omen and decides to make big changes in her life, breaking away from the languid routine. When she hears a man playing on the dayflower leafs, she doesn't suspect that the plant-based sounds will stay with her for a long time.

My Sweet Grappa Remedies

Amai osake de ugai
dir. Akiko Ohku, Japan 2019, 108'
Polish premiere
(cinema + online)

The life of Yoshiko, a middle-aged woman working as an Office Lady, is a series of simple pleasures – a glass of Italian grappa in the evening, a bike ride, observing other people. But despite all that, Yoshiko begins to realize she is lacking something, and starts feeling lonely. In an effort to bring changes into her life, she develops her friendship with a colleague and starts a relationship with a much younger man.

The Japan Feel-Good section also includes the stories about soothing eccentricity found in films by Shuichi Okita: Mori, the Artist's Habitat, One Summer Story, and The Fish Tale. We have already announced the mini-review of his films in September. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know the beloved Japanese author of stories about outsiders and their relationships with the world they do not fully belong to.

More about Shuichi Okita's films

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