Hot premiers to vintage erotica: Over four decades of Japanese film

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Hot premiers to vintage erotica: Over four decades of Japanese film

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The question came after the screening of a Japanese movie at the recent Pusan International Film Festival. The simple query left others in the audience wondering the same thing: are Japanese films really popular in Korea?
Maybe, and maybe not, depending on where you are.
In theaters, Japanese films rarely do well. But at an international film festival in Korea, it’s a different story, with Japanese films selling tickets faster than those from other foreign countries.
A film festival opening next week may provide yet another answer. The Megabox Japanese Film Festival says that the 45 films to be screened from Nov. 10 to 23 will provide Korean audiences a chance to have a better, more nuanced overall understanding of Japanese films. (NOTE: English subtitles will not be provided. Korean subtitles only.)
That does not mean that the festival is presenting only well-known movies.
“Out of works from 1961 to 2005, we were careful in making the selections,” said Terawaki Ken, the director-general of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, one of the event’s organizers.
The opening film is a new work by Koizumi Takashi, called, “A Math Formula the Doctor Loved.” The film will not be widely released in Japanese theaters until January. The movie is about a genius female mathematician who can only remember the past 80 minutes.
As of Wednesday, reserved tickets available online for the opening night of Nov. 10 and an additional screening on Nov. 12 are already sold out. Organizers say they cannot guarantee whether the tickets will be available at the ticket booth on the day of the screening.
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Another film Korean moviegoers are eyeing is “Yarareta Onna,” an erotic film by Takahashi Banmei. Although fans of Japanese films have been longing to see it here, the festival organizers had difficulty obtaining the original print from 1981. The 67-minute film is considered one of the best examples of the genre to represent the 40 years of Japanese erotic films.
Despite the good ticket sales so far, the organizer said they were not confident that the two-week festival would be successful.
The films they plan to feature will not exclusively be the award-winning ones that a Korean audience might be accustomed to so far, as only a few select films were brought in after the ban on Japanese films was lifted in 1998.
“Japanese films are generally not popular in Korea, so we’ll have to see if the public likes our selection.” said Lee Eung-gyeong of the organizing committee.
Apparently, the query has found an answer of sorts.


by Lee Min-a

The Megabox Japanese Film Festival runs from Nov. 10 to 23. Tickets cost 3,000 won ($2.90) per film. Subtitles available only in Korean. Internet reservations can be made at: www.j-meff.co.kr.

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