The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme returns to Midlands Arts Centre – running until 28 March

Words by Jimmy Dougan (follow him on Letterboxd @jimmydougan) / Production pics courtesy of the Japan Foundation

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme (JFTFP) returns to the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), running until 28 March, and presents a week of carefully curated Japanese cinema to audiences outside of London.

The theme of this year’s JFTFP is ‘Unforgettable: Memories, Times and Reflections in Japanese Cinema’, and each of the films on offer explores the ways in which memories of the past influence the present, and how memories feature in the cinematic toolkits of leading Japanese filmmakers.

The festival promises memorably rich films and provocative ideas, and many of the films have never previously been exhibited in the UK.

Read on to find out our film critic’s three top picks from the JFTFP ’24 programme at MAC.

Ripples – Tuesday 26 March, 7pm

Naoko Ogigami’s Hamome Shokudo is one of the great fish out of water comedies, a low-key tale of a lonely Japanese woman attempting to establish a Japanese café in Helsinki. It was an unhurried, softly spoken comedy which established Ogigami as one of Japan’s most vital auteurs.

Her new film, Ripples, follows Yoriko (Mariko Tsutsui), a woman struggling to keep things together following the abrupt disappearance of her husband, who was terrified of radiation poisoning after the 2011 earthquake and the ensuing Fukushima disaster, and the departure of her son for university.

Ogigami’s forte, the film blends aching sadness with wryly surreal humour (feeling adrift, Yoriko joins a cult and regains a sense of belonging absent from her life) but the film also promises to highlight contemporary social issues unique to Japan. Ogigami points her camera at nuclear anxiety, urban isolation, and the suffering of women.

Ripples – official trailer


Egoist – Wednesday 27 March, 8.15pm

Daishi Matsunaga returns to the Japan Foundation Touring Programme with this delicate tale of repressed longing and gay intimacy. Kosuke (Ryohei Suzuki) was 14 years old when his mother died, and he spent his teens in the countryside hiding his feelings as a gay man. Now an editor for a fashion magazine, he meets Ryuta (Hio Miyazawa) and the two find themselves drawn towards each other.

Adapting Makato Takayama’s novel of the same name, Egoist sees Matsunaga employing a documentary approach to gesture towards the novel’s semi-biographical origins. Matsunaga estimates that almost a third of the film is improvised by a largely non-professional cast – though Suzuki is one of Japan’s most beloved actors – and shot it largely on handheld cameras.

Egoist – official trailer


A Man – Thursday 28 March, 7.30pm

A hit on the 2022 festival circuit and a big winner at the 2023 Japan Academy Awards, this brooding psychological thriller directed by Kei Ishikawa follows a divorcee Rie (Sakura Ando) who meets and remarries Daisuke (Masataka Kubota).

They lead a modest but content life, until Daisuke dies in an accident. After his death, Rie discovers that the man she knew and loved as Daisuke was in fact a wholly different person and hires a lawyer (Satoshi Tsumabuki) to discover the real identity of the man she shared four years of her life with.

From Keiichiro Hirano’s best-selling novel, Ishikawa spins a melancholic and slow-burn thriller that deftly interrogates potent themes of identity and national belonging, with two astonishing central performances. The film deservedly won eight prizes at the Japan Academy Awards, including for Best Film, and deserves to be seen in a cinema.

A Man – official trailer

What films are you excited to see at this year’s Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme at MAC? If you see catch our critic Jimmy at any of them, make sure to tell him.

Japan Foundation Touring Programme screenings run at MAC until 28 March. For full listings and links to online ticket sales visit:

To read more about the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme visit:
To read more about the Japan Foundation go to:

For more from Midlands Arts Centre visit:

To follow Birmingham Review’s film critic Jimmy Dougan on Letterboxed click here, or search @jimmydougan