Islamabad gets a taste of Japanese culture

Annual film festival aims to challenge public perception and introduce them to contemporary Japan.

Momina Sibtain September 24, 2010

ISLAMABAD: In a city where Japan is associated with sushi and a country whose last taste of Japanese culture on the national television was Oshin, an annual film festival organised by the Embassy of Japan aimed to challenge the public perception and introduce them to contemporary Japan.

For three days, Islamabadis enjoyed some very entertaining and enlightening Japanese films at the National Art Gallery Auditorium. A pleasant surprise was the large presence of children at the festival and how patiently they watched the films.

Naumana Farooq, a high school teacher at Roots International, said, “[The festival] was brilliantly executed and gave me a feel of Japanese culture. My children also really enjoyed it.”

Four films were shown in the festival. Each of them touched upon a different aspect of Japanese culture, from Sumo wrestling (Shiko funjatta) to high school pop culture (Linda Linda Linda). Their stories were easy to follow despite being in Japanese language with English subtitles.

Where Nodo Jiman, a comedy depicting the dreams and struggles of Japanese singers and aspirants, failed to capture the audience’s attention, another film, Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad, touched the emotional sensibilities of the attendees.

Tokyo Tower follows the story of an irresponsible young man who must care for his cancer-stricken mother when she moves in with him in Tokyo. The film, staying well clear of pretentious and sappy scenes, told a heartfelt story that reverberated through the souls of those in attendance.

“I lost my mother to cancer recently and this movie reminded me of her struggle and how universal the bond between a mother and a child is,” said one spectator after the film ended.

Others enjoyed the film because they were able to relate to the mother’s journey and sacrifices to help make her son’s life better.

Barbara, who works in educational development, commented, “The movie was very well expressed and the prose was elegant. I am a mother of four myself and I feel the struggle each mother goes through regardless of where they live.”

The film festival was inaugurated on Tuesday by Japanese Ambassador Chihiro Atsumi and was organised in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts, National University of Modern Languages, Pakistan Japan Cultural Association  and MEXT Alumni Association of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2010.


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