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2011 — 47th Chicago Film Festival

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Japan

Bunny Drop Bunny Drop

Daikichi spies a young girl standing apart from the family at his grandfather’s funeral. She turns out to be the old man’s love child and nobody wants anything to do with her. Feeling sorry and curious, Daikichi volunteers to take her in, without really understanding the demands of being a parent. As the two get to know each other and establish a routine, Daikichi must figure out how to balance his life, work and childcare in this charming film about parenthood.

Japanese with subtitles, 115 min

Chronicle of my Mother Chronicle of my Mother

Best-selling novelist Kosaku Igami has made a career out of using his family as fodder for his novels, much to their dismay. When his mother, the spirited family matriarch, is diagnosed with dementia, Igami must come to terms with the toll his own behavior has taken on his increasingly distant family and resolve his own long-simmering resentments. Evocative of classic Ozu, this gorgeously wrought epic family portrait explores the tenderness and trappings of familial bonds.

Japanese with subtitles, 119 min

Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salesman Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salesman

When a recently retired Japanese businessman is diagnosed with incurable cancer, he reacts to the news with the same pragmatic approach that made him a successful salesman. In her directorial debut, Mami Sunada combines non-fiction film form with the growing trend of “end of life journals” among the elderly in Japan. By channeling her thoughts and feelings through her father’s “ending note”, Sunada abstracts the weight of a life and the pain of loss into a surprisingly hopeful and life-affirming message.

Japanese with subtitles, 90 min

Kaidan -Horror Classics Kaidan -Horror Classics

Four uncanny ghost stories from Japan’s modern masters of cinema: The Arm tells the story of a middle-aged man with a peculiar fetish who convinces a young woman to lend him her arm for the night; in The Whistler, a girl finds mysterious love letters addressed to her dying sister; a monk, forced to hide his deformed nose from the townspeople, faces the ghost of a young boy, whom he purposely did not save from drowning in The Nose; and in The Days After, a couple receives a visit from a young boy they believe is their deceased son.

Japanese with subtitles, 160 min

Sleep Sleep

Equal parts revenge tale and family drama, Sleep examines the lengths people will go to exact retribution. Raped 17 years ago as a teenager, Kotono now makes a living as a masseuse, leading a nomadic life with her daughter Natsume (born out of the rape) and her aging father. Living out of the back of a van, the clan share a tender bond, each looking out for the needs of the others, belying the perversity of their lifestyle and the true motivation for their life on the road.

Japanese with subtitles, 96 min

Smuggler Smuggler

From the man who created the celebrated “O-Ren Ishii” animated sequence in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 comes this stylish and outrageous but brutal film that makes Tarantino’s work look like family fare. In serious debt to local gangsters, Kinuta is coerced into taking a job as a smuggler of dead bodies for the Japanese underworld, only to find himself caught in the middle of a bloody gang war. Based on the popular eponymous manga, Smuggler has all the makings of a midnight classic.

Japanese with subtitles, 115 min