The Japanese Film Festival 2016 was organised by The Japan Foundation, Japan Creative Centre, Luna Films, National Museum of Singapore and Singapore Film Society. It was held at the Gallery Theatre in the National Museum of Singapore from 1st to 18th September.
The objective of the Japanese film festival is to exhibit films that are highlights from Japan since the previous year’s festival. Due to the limited distribution of the films being featured, the festival may be the only chance to watch these films in a movie theatre.
The film that I watched, Wolf Girl and Black Prince, was free. Tickets could be collected outside the Gallery Theatre 40 minutes prior to the beginning of the first film of the day and advanced tickets were limited to two per person. The screening of all films was done on a free-seating basis and the theatre opened 10-15 minutes before the start of the film. Wolf Girl and Black Prince was extremely popular and it was a full house in the theatre. Many people were also waiting outside in hopes that they could get in. However, since I already got my tickets 2 hours earlier, I managed to waltz inside like a boss.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince
This romance drama is based off a shoujo manga called Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji written in 2011 and a 2014 anime of the same name. This 116 minute film was directed by Ryuichi Hiroki. It was released in Japan on May 28, 2016 and it is the first time it has premiered on a screen outside of Japan. There were two screenings in Singapore, the first on 3rd September and the second on 10th September.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince follows high school girl Erika Shinohara (Fumi Nikaidou) who is in a clique of girls that are all attached. In order to get a sense of belonging, she lies about having a boyfriend and randomly takes a photo of a handsome boy on the street as ‘proof’. Her clique reveals that the boy, Kyouya Sata (Kento Yamazaki), is from the same school as them. Erika begs Kyouya to pretend to be her boyfriend, and he agrees on the condition that she does everything he asks her to do.
Review of Film
The acting was decent and it was definitely not the skills of the actors that got the audience (of mostly girls) swooning. It’s suffice to say pretty faces with a lot of screen time really worked for this teen romance film. (Who needs beautiful mise en scene when there are all these beautiful male creatures right in front of you?) This film was a lot of fun to watch. It highlighted many conventions from manga’s romantic dramas like the handsome but aloof love interest and the ordinary school girl. The film milked these romance tropes and stereotypes making the audience comfortable with the simple and conventional narrative. Due to the familiar representation of the ordinary school girl in Japanese romance film, it was effective in getting the audience to relate to her.
The plot was not the most believable or realistic and it came with no surprises. The audience suspend their disbelief and willingly get swept away with the very contrived plot. It was a plot which I bought until the end, where she confesses her undying love for the annoying Kyoya despite the agony that she has went through and all the tears that he has caused for the past 100 mins. Although it didn’t end the way I would have liked it to, I was still entertained by it. The film was bright, cheerful and engaging.
Review of Event
The Japanese Film festival was a good opportunity to give an insight into the Japanese film industry and Japanese culture. It is also a delightful treat to be able to watch films for free. This is an opportunity to watch film that should not be missed, or if you did, check it out again next year!