March 21, 2023

CHICAGO (Oct. 6, 2016) — Asian Pop-Up Cinema Film Festival announce its exclusive JAPAN FOCUS segment, presenting five highly praised Japanese films Chicago premieres between Oct. 9 through Dec. 4, 2016. Q & A Sessions with visiting directors will be moderated by “Cinema Slapdown” Host Ron Falzone.

From an inspiring high school drama club putting on a play for a national contest; to two documentaries about Japanese American History during WWII with music by theaward-winning Kitaro; to an affectionate tribute to Japanese actors spending their careers on extra work; and a romantic road trip movie between a push-cart girl on the “romance” bullet train and the customer who tries to steal from her; Asian Pop-Up Cinema will wow the audience with a fanfare of contemporary Japanese cinema.

Directors confirmed attending JAPAN FOCUS from Japan are Junichi Suzuki and Yuki Tanada.

Junichi Suzuki was born near Tokyo and graduated from The University of Tokyo in Ethnics major.  Upon graduation, Suzuki began working for Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan.  He gained experiences on many productions as an assistant director.  As a director, he has directed large budget studio pictures as well as critically acclaimed masterpiece films.  His credits include The Lonely Affair of the Heat (2002), Shoot in the Blue Sky (2001), Remembering the Cosmos Flower (1997), Sukiyaki (1995), Island Honeymoon (1991), and Shiro and Marilyn (1988).

Yuki Tanada studied theater in high school and filmmaking at the Image Forum Institute of the Moving Image in Tokyo.  She thought of giving up her dream to become a director, but was inspired by Jaco Van Dormael’s 1991 drama Toto the Hero to continue.  In 2000 she scripted, directed and starred in her first film, Moru.  In 2008, she released the road movie One Million Yen Girl that earned critical acclaim.  After a four-year break from film director to write fiction and direct for television, she returned to the big screen with the coming-of-age drama The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky, then followed by Mourning Recipe in 2013.

Selected Filmography:

2013 Mourning Recipe

2010 The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky

2009 Ain’t No Tomorrows

2008 One Million Yen Girl

2007 Sakuran (Screenplay)

2004 Moon & Cherry

2004 Takada Wataru – A Japanese Original

2001 Moru

All films screened in the ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA festival will be followed by question-and-answer sessions led by award-winning screenwriter, Columbia College Chicago Associate Professor in Cinema Art + Science, and host of the popular Cinema Slapdown series, Ron Falzone.

Following a strong opening weekend with Korean & Hong Kong directors in Chicago presenting their films, and a full house for their first educational outreach screening, Asian Pop-Up Cinema continues to explore the diversity of Asian cinema with films from Tibet, Indonesia, Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan.




Sunday, October 9, 2:00 PM at Wilmette Theatre. Suitable for all ages.

Directed by:  Motohiro Katsuyuki

Starring:  Momota Kanako, Tamai Shiori, Sasaki Ayaka, Ariyasu Momoka, Takagi Reni and Kuroki Haru

Japan | 2015 | 119 min | DCP | Japanese w/subtitles.

When The Curtain Rises focuses on the process of putting on a theatrical play by a high school drama club in a provincial town, following the growth of its actors both on stage and personally.  The five young leading actors, are members of the idol group Momoiro Clover Z, and their learning curve as actors overlaps with that of their characters in the film.  Only 24 at time of filming who plays the new coach, Kuroki Haru, has already amassed an impressive list of acting honors including the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for Best Actress Award in 2014.


Two documentaries presented in association with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Chicago in celebration of the 50th anniversary of JCCC.  Director Junichi Suzuki will be in attendance for intro and Q & A.



Saturday, October 22, 12:30 [email protected] Wilmette Theatre

Planned, Written & Directed by:  Junichi Suzuki

Music by: Kitaro

Japan | 2008 | 98 min | DCP | Japanese w/subtitles

A documentary told through Toyo’s photographs – While cameras were prohibited in internment camps, there was one photographer who smuggled in a lens and built a camera with it, to capture life behind barbed wires.  That photographer was Toyo Miyatake.  Toyo’s photographs of internment camp life capture the compelling stories of Japanese Americans during World War II and are the focus of this feature documentary.



Saturday, October 22, 2:15 PM @Wilmette Theatre

Planned, Written and Directed by:  Junichi Suzuki

Music by: Kitaro

Japan | 2010 | 97 min | DCP | Japanese w/subtitles

Winner of 2010 Maui Film Festival Audience Award Special Prize, 442 is a documentary containing testimonies of former veterans including Senator Daniel K. Inouye and interviews with actor George Takei and prominent community leaders tell the largely unknown stories of unprecedented military bravery and valor of the veterans.  Important historic battles and events are narrated by actor and filmmaker Lane Nishikawa using footages and photographs from the Washington National Archives, enhanced with soul-stirring compositions by Grammy and Golden Globe Award-Winning Kitaro.



Sunday, November 13, 2:00 PM @ Wilmette Theatre

Directed by:  Satoko Yokohama

Starring:  Ken Yasuda, Kumiko Aso, Shohei Uno, Hirohumi Arai

Japan | 2016 | 123 min | DCP | Japanese w/subtitles

The Actor follows a “bit parts” actor, played by Ken Yasuda, best known for TEAM NACS (a group of 5 actors) and many voice performances as in award-winning animation Spirited Away, who finally gets a break with a big role by an internationally known director – a basic plot that may sound familiar yet with the inspired performances and the romantic subplot, director Yokohama’s take is anything but conventional.

Closing Night Film:  ROUND TRIP HEART


Sunday, December 4, 4:00 PM @ Wilmette Theatre followed by Closing Night Reception.

Directed by:  Yuki Tanada, who will be in attendance for Intro and Q & A.

Starring:  Oshima Yuko and Okura Koji

Japan | 2015 | 97 min | DCP | Japanese w/subtitles

This romantic comedy follows a woman who sells food and drinks on a train push cart ends up touring a mountain resort with a failed movie producer who tried to steal from her cart.  Aside from The Actor, Round Trip Heart is the second Japanese film made by a female filmmaker presented in this season.

TICKETS for the individual screenings and post-film Q & A sessions are $7 to $25 each.  Special discounts for students, seniors and group of 10 + available for select films.  Advance sales on line are available tickets or   All programs are subject to change.  All tickets sales are final, non-exchangeable and non-refundable.  Wilmette Theatre is located at 1122 Central Ave, Wilmette, IL.

More info: tickets


Asian Pop-Up Cinema, a semi-annual Asian Film Festival, is the brain child of Sophia Wong Boccio, founder of SOPHIA’S CHOICE, a one-year old Chicago-based 501 C (3) not-for-profit with the mission of cultivating interest in Asian culture through film; connecting individuals in the film industry for professional and educational exchanges; and promoting Chicago as a premiere destination for Asian filmmakers.  More info:

JAPAN FOCUS is supported in part by Japan Foundation of New York, The Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Chicago and BMO Harris Bank in Chicago.

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