Director Shinichiro Ueda’s hit zombie romp, One Cut Of The Dead, has seen scores of upward reviews and buzz quotes since becoming a landmark low budget hit last year. That film gets a Steelbook release from Image Entertainment/Shudder on June 2, and so with the 14th annual installment of Japan Cuts making headway this summer, Ueda is bringing his latest Rotterdam selection, Special Actors, to the festival’s inaugural day as the official opening selection for 2020.
Taking a turn to VOD for its presentation, the festival’s organizers at Japan Society will partner with Festival Scope and Shift72 for its restructuring in light of the ongoing situation with Covid-19. The move marks the first time the festival will be made available to audiences around the country, including and beyond New York City, and with limited number of tickets will soon be made available for online festival attendees as the event stamps a two-week run set for July 17 through July 30. A raft of thirty feature films and shorts will stream, all geoblocked for their U.S. North American screenings.
“While nothing can replace the thrill of welcoming filmmakers and audience members together into our auditorium, we are excited by the new possibilities opened up by putting the festival online this summer,” says K. F. Watanabe, Deputy Director of Film at Japan Society. “Our programming team is committed to maintaining the high quality of film offerings and intimate feeling of community provided by JAPAN CUTS within this reimagined format while also finding ways of engaging new audiences across the country and supporting Japanese film culture.”
Aside from categories like Documentary Focus and Experimental Spotlight, the festival will also showcase a new competitive section dedicated to early-career independent filmmakers, as well as live and pre-recorded virtual Q&As, discussion panels, and video greetings from filmmakers and programmers. A live virtual Q&A will be scheduled and hosted on the festival’s opening day with Ueda, with Special Actors launching the festival.
“I am honored to have my film selected as the opening film [for JAPAN CUTS] among the many others included in the festival,” wrote Ueda through email. “Though we are in a situation where it is difficult to travel, I am happy that at least this film can travel and reach people overseas in North America. Unpredictable twists and turns await you in this film, but try not to faint like the main character—and please enjoy this fun movie journey!”
Special Actors is described by Japan Cuts as “an ensemble comedy about an oddball acting troupe infiltrating a cult”. Its Japan Cuts screening will mark its U.S. debut courtesy of international rights holder, Shochiku.
The full lineup of Japan Cuts XIV, its films and panels, are expected to be made public in late June. Stay tuned for more info.