Thanks to a new 10-year partnership with UNIQLO, the Museum of Fine Arts will celebrate Japanese filmmaking and culture all month long. Kicking off on Thursday, the inaugural Boston Festival of Films from Japan will showcase a variety of flicks throughout February, including anime, documentaries and more. Ahead of opening night, film curator Carter Long shares his picks for the top five films you have to see at this year’s fest.
1. “Your Name”
A free screening of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 animated masterpiece opens the fest on Feb. 1. Considered one of the highest-grossing films in Japanese cinema history, “Your Name” tells the magical tale of a small town girl named Mitsuha who ends up trading bodies with Taki, a teenage boy from Tokyo. The film will also be shown in Japanese with English subtitles on Feb. 7.
Directed by Kōji Fukada, this 2016 drama follows the lives of an “ordinary Japanese family” that ends up falling apart after they meet a mysterious man who’s just left prison. “Harmonium,” which screens Feb. 9 and 11, won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 69th Cannes Film Festival.
3. “Resistance at Tule Lake”
This 2017 documentary by Konrad Aderer explores the little-known story of how 12,000 Japanese Americans tried to resist the U.S. government’s mass incarceration program during World War II. These citizens were branded as disloyal and sent to prison at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, where they kept their protests going despite the threat of military violence. The film screens on Feb. 4 and 8.
4. “Tokyo Idols”
Discover how girl bands became such a dominant force in Japanese music with this 2017 documentary by Kiyoko Miyake. Screening Feb. 2 and 8, the film follows the life of a woman named Rio, a budding pop singer who has a large following of obsessed, middle-aged male fans. “Tokyo Idols” uses her story to examine the disconnect between men and women in “hyper-modern societies.”
5. “Blade of the Immortal”
Screening Feb. 9 and 18, “Blade of the Immortal” is a 2017 live-action interpretation of the hit manga of the same name. The 100th film by legendary director Takashi Miike, the flick centers around a skilled warrior named Manji who’s cursed with immortality following an epic battle. Manji tries to win back his soul by fighting against the forces of evil, as well as helping a young girl avenge the death of her parents.
If you go:
Feb. 1-28, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, mfa.org