Japanese Film Festival Online: our top picks of the program

The free online version of the Japanese Film Festival is almost here – peep our top picks of the program.
School Meals Time Graduation| 2022 | Director: Shinya Ayabe. Image: JFF

The Japanese Film Festival Online is returning for its third edition from 5 June to 3 July, and it’s free to stream any of the titles on the program.

This year’s program showcases a dynamic collection of cinema and television released over nearly 70 years, with subtitles available in up to 16 languages to cater to a variety of audiences.

Presented by the Japan Foundation, the festival celebrates the breadth and diversity of Japanese storytelling, serving as a cultural bridge connecting global fans of Japanese cinema.

A diverse selection of 23 films, two TV dramas spanning 20 episodes, and four selected horror shorts is up for exploration. The curation covers a broad spectrum of themes and narratives, including LGBTQIA+ stories, intricate family dramas, and adaptations of beloved Japanese manga.

Here are our picks of the online program.

The Japanese Film Festival Online 2024

Anime Supremacy!, 2022, dir. Kohei Yoshino

The underdog story about Hitomi, a rookie director who finally gets the chance to helm her own anime series! However, she soon discovers that she must go head-to-head with genius director Chiharu, who’s releasing his own hotly anticipated anime.

Read: The Boy and The Heron review: Miyazaki’s masterful return to form

Baby Assassins, 2021, dir. Yugo Sakamoto

A unique coming-of-age action comedy about two teenage assassins who are suddenly forced to become ordinary members of society, with hilarious consequences.

The Lines That Define Me, 2022, dir. Nori Koizumi

 One young man’s journey of loss and rebirth as he embraces sumi-e, the art of Japanese ink painting⁠. This artform is known for rendering the natural world and life itself through shades of black and white.

BL Metamorphosis, 2022, dir. Shunsuke Kariyama

When they bond through their shared love of manga, a high school girl and an elderly lady form an unlikely friendship.

My Broken Mariko, 2022, dir. Yuki Tanada

After her best friend Mariko passes away, Tomoyo embarks on a journey to the seaside carrying her ashes. In the process, the young woman reflects on her own life as she mourns the loss of her friend.

The Zen Diary, 2022, dir. Yuji Nakae

Based on an essay by novelist Tsutomu Mizukami, this film follows a writer living alone in a mountain cottage as he makes zen monastery food. Set against the backdrop of the beauty of the four seasons the writer ponders what true wealth is.

Read: Drive My Car review: it’s streets ahead

School Meals Time Graduation, 2022, dir. Shinya Ayabe

This hilarious food comedy is about a teacher and student who share a love for school lunches, and together, come to appreciate the importance of food. 

The Japanese Film Festival Online 2024 is on from 5 June to 3 July 2024. For more information, head to the JFF website.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports