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Anime at Japan Filmfest Hamburg and JAPAN CUTS

Anime at Japan Filmfest Hamburg and JAPAN CUTS

Written by Jordan Scott on 23 Aug 2021

The 22nd Japan-Filmfest Hamburg (JFFH) runs from 18 August –  1 September 2021. For the second year in a row, it is being held as an online-only festival.

As with last year's edition, the large majority of the festival can be accessed worldwide and has English subtitles. Only a few titles – listed here – are restricted to Germany.

This year's selection includes three animated shorts, all available worldwide in Japanese with English subtitles.


However, as was the case last year, shorts cannot be rented individually, only as part of programmes, which each cost €6.00 to rent.


The programmes are streamed on the platform Leihkarte. Though the text on Leihkarte's website is only in German and its applications for mobile devices and TVs are only available in Germany and Austria, the festival's programmes can be played worldwide on the Leihkarte website in a web browser. (I know this because I successfully rented and streamed one of the programmes at last year's festival, though I'm in the UK.)


The 15th edition of JAPAN CUTS, which claims to be North America's largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema (though it has at least some competition in Toronto Japanese Film Festival, which by my count had an equal number of new features in its most recent edition, though no shorts nor older films), begins today, and it will run from 20 August – 2 September 2021.

Following 2020's entirely online edition, this year's hybrid festival includes both in-person screenings in New York City and online screenings which are all accessible from throughout the United States.

However, as was the case last year, some titles are also accessible from outside the US, to varying extents: some can be accessed in both the US and Canada, some from all of North America and some worldwide except for Japan and certain other countries.

The 2021 selection includes these three animated shorts:

It also includes the international premiere of the 30th anniversary 2K restoration of Hiruko the Goblin (Hiruko/Yōkai hunter, 1991), a primarily live-action film (though with much use of stop-motion animation) based on the manga Yōkai hunter by Daijirō Morohoshi (named as a major influence by both Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno) and written for the screen and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto (though this is streaming only in the US).

The restoration will be released widely on home video in Northern America by distributor Mondo Macabro in October.

Finally, this year, the festival is presenting its annual CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film to actress Yu Aoi. Aoi's film roles, in addition to many on-screen appearances, include voice performances in several anime films, including TEKKONKINKREET, REDLINE, the rotoscoped the case of hana & alice, penguin highway and Children of the Sea. A video of her acceptance message is included with rentals of Wife of a Spy (streaming in the US).

Jordan Scott

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