JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film Reveals 2021 Lineup

JAPAN CUTS - The Great Yokai War: Guardians

The 15th JAPAN CUTS film festival recently announced its main slate featuring a variety of films from the land of the rising sun. This year, the JAPAN CUTS festival will be a hybrid event—combining online screenings and in-person screenings at the Japan Society auditorium in New York City. Running for 14 days from August 20 – September 2, these are the films you can find at the JAPAN CUTS festival:

In-Person Screenings


2020. 124 min. Directed by Yukiko Sode.
New York Premiere. Yukiko Sode’s commanding third feature explores relationships between women seeking pleasure and self-fulfillment amidst family expectations and class hierarchy, featuring outstanding lead performances.

Saturday, August 21 at 7 PM and Thursday, August 26 at 4 PM

The Great Yokai War: Guardians

2021. 118 min. Directed by Takashi Miike.
U.S. Premiere. Miike’s triumphant return to the phantasmagorical realm of mythical yokai introduces a whole new cast of faces in this adventure for all ages, including the long-awaited return of Daimajin!

Saturday, August 28 at 7 PM and Wednesday, September 1 at 4 PM

It’s a Summer Film!

2020. 97 min. Directed by Soushi Matsumoto.
U.S. Premiere. A precocious chanbara-obsessed teen and her friends aspire to make a samurai film over the course of one summer in this endearing take on a coming-of-age story, replete with teen romance and a sci-fi twist.

Friday, August 20 at 7 PM and Saturday, August 21 at 1:30 PM

Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction

2021. 113 min. Directed by Daihachi Yoshida.
Int’l Premiere. In this whip-smart, all-star ensemble comedy, a cocky and manipulative chief editor at a major publishing company strives to save a failing magazine and enlists an earnest and innovative rookie to help.

Thursday, August 26 at 7 PM and Saturday, August 28 at 4 PM

Labyrinth of Cinema

2019. 179 min. Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi.
New York Premiere. The late Nobuhiko Obayashi’s swan song is a breathless journey through Japan’s war-torn past and an elegiac celebration of cinema—an awe-inspiring conclusion to a 60-year filmmaking career.

Thursday, September 2 at 7 PM

The Pass: The Last Days of the Samurai

The Pass: Last Days of the Samurai

2020. 114 min. Directed by Takashi Koizumi.
New York Premiere. In late 19th century Japan, a respected samurai (Koji Yakusho) tries to avoid war for his clan through negotiation, but when he is left with no other choice, he picks up his sword and heads into battle.

Saturday, August 21 at 4 PM and Wednesday, September 1 at 7 PM

Talking the Pictures

2019. 127 min. Directed by Masayuki Suo.
New York Premiere. A charming and comedic love letter to Japan’s silent movie era that follows an aspiring benshi (silent film narrator) as he tries to save a movie house with his performances while also running from the law.

Friday, August 20 at 4 PM and Saturday, August 28 at 1 PM

Wife of a Spy

2020. 115 min. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
Centerpiece Presentation. New York Premiere. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s first historical drama is a dizzying tale of suspicion, betrayal, and love during WWII, featuring surprising metafilmic turns and condemnation of colonialism, with a brave performance by Yu Aoi. Featuring a video greeting from Yu Aoi, recipient of the CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film.

Friday, August 27 at 7 PM

JAPAN CUTS Online Screenings

Feature Slate (Online)

Come and Go

2020. 158 min. Directed by Kah Wai Lim.
Tourists, foreigners and social outcasts converge on the streets of Osaka in this sprawling ensemble drama that weaves through multiple characters’ lives to reveal a universal loneliness in the heart of the melting pot city.

Company Retreat

2021. 135 min. Directed by Atsushi Funahashi.
Following a workplace sexual harassment incident that leads to social media bullying, a group of co-workers gather for a seaside vacation that quickly turns ugly when they broach the #MeToo elephant in the room.

The Goldfish: Dreaming of the Sea

2021. 76 min. Directed by Sara Ogawa.
In this poignant coming-of-age tale, 18-year-old former foster child Hana reconciles trauma and chosen family. A stunning, naturalistic drama lensed by longtime Hirokazu Kore-eda DP Yutaka Yamazaki.

It’s a Summer Film!

2020. 97 min. Directed by Soushi Matsumoto.
A precocious chanbara-obsessed teen and her friends aspire to make a samurai film over the course of one summer in this endearing take on a coming-of-age story, replete with teen romance and a sci-fi twist.


2021. 116 min. Directed by Satoko Yokohama.
Returning to her birthplace of Aomori, Satoko Yokohama introduces Ito, a painfully shy high schooler reconnecting with her matrilineal practice of Tsugaru-shamisen while learning the ropes part-time in a unique maid cafe.

Wife of a Spy

Wife of a Spy

2020. 115 min. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
Centerpiece Presentation. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s first historical drama is a dizzying tale of suspicion, betrayal, and love during WWII, featuring surprising metafilmic turns and condemnation of colonialism, with a brave performance by Yu Aoi.

Wonderful Paradise

2020. 95 min. Directed by Masashi Yamamoto.
As a family moves out of their luxury home, a group of increasingly eccentric guests arrive for an impromptu farewell party that turns into a surreal carnival in this energetic comedy from indie auteur Masashi Yamamoto.

Next Generation (Online)


2020. 77 min. Directed by Kosuke Nakahama.
In this highly imaginative and stylish debut, a pop culture-obsessed high school girl with dissociative identity disorder is questioned by a psychiatrist and police detective in connection to a murder case.

Mari and Mari

2021. 91 min. Directed by Tatsuya Yamanishi.
A casting agent’s life is turned upside down when his longtime girlfriend, Mari, suddenly disappears—only to be replaced (without explanation) by a complete stranger bearing the same name.

My Sorry Life

2021. 95 min. Directed by Kozue Nomoto.
A driven TV producer, perturbed by her doting ex-comedian boyfriend’s desire to have children, finally takes the lead on a new series in which she works with a young trans man who changes her perspective.

Sasaki in My Mind

2020. 118 min. Directed by Takuya Uchiyama.
In the midst of a quarter-life crisis, a frustrated actor’s memories of the immature antics of a class clown bring on renewed appreciation for youthful dreams and abandoned creative ambitions in this surprising debut.

Spaghetti Code Love

2021. 96 min. Directed by Takeshi Maruyama.
In this beautifully lensed and ambitious drama, a disparate group of young people connected by chance or circumstance struggle to find love and acceptance amidst the pressures of modern life in Tokyo.

Town Without Sea

2020. 105 min. Directed by Elaiza Ikeda.
A shy high schooler is at a crossroads wondering what happiness means—and if he’s ready to pursue it amongst attachment to friends, family, and taiko drumming in Tagawa, Fukuoka—in this debut by actress Elaiza Ikeda.

Classics (Online)

Hiruko the Goblin

Hiruko the Goblin

1991. 89 min. Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto.
30th Anniversary—New 2K Restoration! Fresh off the success of his trailblazing cyberpunk debut, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tsukamoto’s foray into lighter genre convention relishes in over-the-top comedy and body horror effects.

Robinson’s Garden

1988. 119 min. Directed by Masashi Yamamoto.
Newly Remastered! Late one night, free-spirited Kumi stumbles across a flourishing garden in a derelict industrial site and takes it upon herself to create a DIY haven for outcasts and punks from all walks of life.

To Sleep So as to Dream

1986. 80 min. Directed by Kaizo Hayashi.
35th Anniversary—New 2K Restoration! An aging silver-screen starlet seeks the aid of two steadfast detectives when her daughter is kidnapped for ransom in this unforgettable, dream-like ode to silent cinema.

Documentary Focus (Online)

No Smoking

2019. 96 min. Directed by Taketoshi Sado.
This intimate portrait documentary follows legendary musician and composer Haruomi Hosono—founding member of Yellow Magic Orchestra—as he candidly talks about his life and travels overseas to play concerts.


2021. 87 min. Directed by Thomas Ash.
Japan’s restrictive refugee policies materialize in Ushiku immigration detention center, where people languish for years under threat of deportation. Using hidden cameras, this brave work is an urgent call for human rights.

Why You Can’t Be Prime Minister

2020. 119 min. Directed by Arata Oshima.
What keeps popular policies of social welfare from the seat of power? Over nearly two decades, Arata Oshima follows a politician navigating splintered opposition parties in a landscape dominated by the rightwing.

Experimental Spotlight (Online)

The Blue Danube

2021. 105 min. Directed by Akira Ikeda.
The absurdity of war and mindless bureaucracy is put on full display in this entrancing tale of a young man assigned to his unit’s marching band, approached with surprisingly profound and moving deadpan comedy.

Double Layered Town / Making a Song to Replace Our Positions

2021. 81 min. Directed by Haruka Komori & Natsumi Seo.
As the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe of March 11, 2011 reaches its ten year anniversary, this deeply imaginative and empathetic film approaches the past and future of the city of Rikuzentakata.

Shorts Showcase (Online)

Experimental Shorts Program

2021. 84 min. Yu Araki, Takuya Chisaka, Masami Kawai, Hakhyun Kim, Hirofumi Nakamoto, Onohana, Koki Tanaka, Nao Yoshigai, Yoko Yuki.
In a range of boundary-breaking shorts from handmade animation to essay film, abstract nature doc, and lo-fi sci-fi, filmmakers reimagine past and future terrains.

Narrative Shorts Program

2021. 103 min. Anshul Chauhan, Mayu Nakamura, Toshiaki Toyoda, Yoko Yamanaka.
A samurai condemns corruption on the eve of his death, and friends and lovers reconnect and break apart during COVID-19 lockdown in this outstanding collection of shorts by established and up-and-coming directors.

Tickets for in-person screenings cost $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Japan Society members can now buy tickets for these in-person screenings, while non-members can buy tickets starting on the 16th. As for the online screenings for JAPAN CUTS, rental costs will range from $1 – $10 each. There is, however, a limited availability, all-access pass that costs $69 that’s now currently on sale.

JAPAN CUTS will run from August 20th – September 2nd.

Facebook Comments