Fancy meeting Japanese filmmaker Takumi Saitoh in person? He will be in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 5 for a meet-and-greet session. This is held in conjunction with the Japanese Film Festival in Malaysia.

The Tokyo native is in Malaysia to present blank 13, his first feature-length film.

Based on a true story, it depicts the main character coming to terms with the knowledge that his father – who went out for a pack of cigarettes 13 years ago and never returned – is dying from cancer.

This film premiered at the 26th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. It also won the 36-year-old the Asian New Talent Award for Best Director at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival earlier this year.

This will be the first time blank 13 is shown in South-East Asia, with limited screenings in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah during the film festival.

“The movie will only be released in Japan in February next year, making this a very rare and fortunate treat for Malaysian audiences,” shares Koichi Horikawa, director of The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur.

Apart from directing, Saitoh also stars in a supporting role in The Projects, another film presented at the upcoming Japanese Film Festival.

This year marks the 14th instalment of the Japanese Film Festival in Malaysia, an annual event organised by The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur, that is set to thrill local movie-goers and Japanophiles once again.

Samurai Hustle Returns

This year’s movie lineup is diverse, with a number of heartwarming dramas, rib-tickling comedies and manga adaptations brought to life on the big screen.

There are two documentaries included: The first, Tora-San Of Goto, is a labour of love that took over two decades to make, and the second pays homage to Tsukiji, the 80-year-old fish market known to be the world’s largest.

“The lineup represents the wide spectrum of themes, genres and perspectives of Japan’s cinematic heritage,” Horikawa adds.

Also on the list is Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections, a short film compilation that includes Pigeon, which was shot mostly in Penang and features Malaysian actress Sharifah Amani.

The Japanese Film Festival kicks off in Klang Valley at GSC Cinemas in Mid Valley, Pavilion KL, NU Sentral and 1Utama from Sept 7 to 13, before touring Penang (GSC Gurney Plaza) from Sept 14 to 17, Kuching (GSC CityONE Megamall) from Sept 21 to 24, and Kota Kinabalu (GSC Suria Sabah) from Sept 29 to Oct 2.

Tickets are priced at RM8, except Midnight Diner 2 and Tsukiji Wonderland, which will be sold at the prevailing GSC box office price.

Tickets for all screenings can be purchased from tomorrow onwards at the GSC box office or

For more information, visit All films are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Teiichi: Battle Of Supreme High

List of films

Her Love Boils Bathwater (drama)

A single mother is determined to pull together her fractured family when she finds out that she has terminal cancer.

ReLIFE (drama, comedy)

An experimental social reintegration programme called ReLIFE allows Arata to live his life as a 17 year old again. The catch? It lasts only for a year, after which he will be erased from the memories of people whose lives he has touched.

Rudolf The Black Cat (animation)

Rudolf the kitten yearns to roam the wild streets of the great unknown. But has he bitten off more than he can chew when he finds himself lost in the big city?

Tsujiki Wonderland

Samurai Hustle Returns (comedy)

When word spreads about a rebel uprising in their village, the amiable Masaatsu Naito and his men must leap into action to save the day.

Seto And Utsumi (drama)

An outgoing young man and a loner strike up an unlikely friendship and attempt to make sense of the world around them.

Survival Family (comedy)

What do you do when an electrical outage sweeps across the world, plunging it into darkness? Pack up and head for the countryside.

Teiichi: Battle Of Supreme High (comedy)

The student council presidency is everything to Teiichi, and if sabotage, bribery, double-crosses and fisticuffs are what it takes to win – well, bring it on!

The Long Excuse (drama)

This widower is convinced that he isn’t bothered by the death of his wife. But can his reaching out to another grieving husband be the start of his own road to recovery?

Tora-San Of Goto (documentary)

Filmed over 22 years, this documentary outlines an intimate portrait of the Inuzuka clan who live on the Goto Islands of Nagasaki.

Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections (drama)

Three stories: a kinship between an elderly Japanese man and his Malaysian caretaker, a Filipino illegal immigrant starting life anew in a homeland foreign to him, and a doomed romance between a Japanese-Cambodian couple.

The Projects (comedy)

An old couple move into a public housing complex, eager to start afresh. But tongues start wagging after a mysterious disappearance.

blank 13 (drama)

Despite his father being absent for the last 13 years, Koji clings on to memories of their shared love for baseball. But is it ever enough?

Tsujiki Wonderland (documentary)

The world’s largest fish market is immortalised in this enduring snapshot of an iconic national institution.

Midnight Diner 2 (drama)

Throwing open its doors at midnight each day, the owner of a little restaurant whips up any dish you fancy and lends a sympathetic ear to anyone who needs to talk.