Modern classics that highlight the enduring strength of Japanese cinema.
The 21st-century has witnessed a remarkable resurgence of Japanese cinema, both in terms of domestic audiences and international recognition. At the star of the 2000s Takashi Miike and Kiyoshi Kurosawa spearheaded a new generation of directors whose provocative works reached sizable UK audiences.
Simultaneously, more respectable figures like Hirokazu Koreeda became favourites on the festival circuit, while Yōjirō Takita’s Departures became the first Japanese production to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The growing plurality of voices in Japanese cinema also saw Naomi Kawase win the Grand Prix at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival for The Mourning Forest. And through it all Anime continued its advance into the global mainstream.
Characterised by two competing strains – a respectful adherence to cinematic heritage alongside an anarchic subversion of all that’s gone before – contemporary Japanese cinema continues to surprise, delight and provoke.
Drama2008131 minsDirector: Yôjirô Takita
A professional cellist gets a new job as an assistant mortician in this delightful and bittersweet drama, winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® in 2009.
Drama200797 minsDirector: Naomi Kawase
A beautiful and contemplative portrait of grief from Cannes-winning filmmaker Naomi Kawase (Sweet Bean, Still the Water).
Drama2015113 minsDirector: Naomi Kawase
A struggling street food vendor accepts help from an elderly lady with a sensational recipe up her sleeve, in Naomi Kawase's bittersweet drama of culinary redemption.
Drama201438 minsDirector: Nagisa Isogai
After a schoolgirl is molested on the notorious 'groper train' in their town, a group a schoolgirls band together to emact revenge.
Thriller2016130 minsDirector: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cuire, Pulse) makes a triumphant return to the horror genre with this macabre and deeply unsettling thriller.
Drama2015128 minsDirector: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
The living and the dead coexist in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cannes-winning meditation on love and loss.
Horror2001119 minsDirector: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kiyoshi Kurosawa's dark and apocalyptic J-Horror foretells how technology serves to isolate us as it grows more important to our lives.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2013118 minsDirector: Mamoru Hosoda
Single mother Hana must bring up her wolf children away from the prying eyes of the neighbours in this stunning anime.
Science Fiction2009115 minsDirector: Mamoru Hosoda
A student sets in motion a series of events that could result in the earth colliding with the parallel world.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2006100 minsDirector: Mamoru Hosoda
Breathtaking, multi-award-winning feature about a girl with a special power… Makoto Konno's life changes after a brush with death, when she discovers she has the ability to jump backwards in time.
Drama2016120 minsDirector: Koji Fukada
Kôji Fukada's mixture of slow-burn thriller and off-kilter family drama won Un Certain Regard Jury prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2004100 minsDirector: Mamoru Oshii
Mamoru Oshii's stunning sequel to the 1995 anime classic explores issues around identity, existence and what exactly defines our humanity.
Drama200277 minsDirector: Shinya Tsukamoto
Bizarre and unsettling sex fantasy from Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo), about a woman blackmailed by a stranger into enacting his wildest fantasies.
Comedy2011109 minsDirector: Yuya Ishii
An eccentric, pregnant young lady returns to her hometown to help her downtrodden old neighbours, in Yûya Ishii 's strange, whimsical comedy.
Comedy2010112 minsDirector: Yuya Ishii
Sawako tries to save her father's ailing clam-packing business, but it's an uphill struggle, in Yuya Ishii's joyous, nuanced, comic drama.
Comedy2011128 minsDirector: Shûichi Okita
A redneck lumberjack is recruited to work on a rookie producer's inane zombie movie, in this hilarious movie-making satire.
Science Fiction2000114 minsDirector: Kenji Fukasaku
Before The Hunger Games there was Battle Royale, Kinji Fukasaku's magnificently twisted shocker in which tearaway teens are given three days to kill or be killed.
Action and Adventure2014116 minsDirector: Sion Sono
Sion Sono's unique brand of subversive cinema explodes onscreen once again with this ingenious hybrid of Yakuza gang action and hip-hop musical.
Comedy2008237 minsDirector: Sion Sono
Japanese cinema's enfant terrible, Sion Sono, unleashes this demented, whirlwind tale of cults, love, violence and perversion.
Comedy2001113 minsDirector: Takashi Miike
The Sound of Music meets Dawn of the Dead in Takashi Miike's deranged mix of grotesque stop-motion animation, surreal musical numbers, and zombie melodrama.
Musical2012134 minsDirector: Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike's awesome riff on Romeo and Juliet, done as a pop musical stuffed with golden oldies from the 60s.
Comedy2003130 minsDirector: Takashi Miike
Surreal and hilarious yakuza horror from the dependably unhinged Takashi Miike, concerning an assassin's increasingly strange quest to find a missing corpse.