Tuesday, March 10, 2020

[Press release] Fifth Annual Japanese Film Festival at Row House Cinema Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi, New Anime, Opening & Closing Night Festivities.

Fifth Annual Japanese Film Festival at Row House Cinema
Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi, New Anime, Opening & Closing Night Festivities

Row House Cinema is excited to announce the dates and films for the 2020 Japanese Film Festival, happening March 20 – April 2 at the Lawrenceville theater.

Entering its fifth year, the festival is a two-week celebration of the wide variety of new films coming out of Japan in addition to timeless classics, cult films, and cutting-edge anime not shown anywhere else in Pittsburgh.

“We anticipate people coming in from Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Buffalo to what has become the largest Japanese Film Festival in the Rust Belt,” said Brian Mendelssohn, owner of Row House Cinema. “This festival is a prime destination for film lovers. Those looking for an exciting lineup and fresh cultural events will not be disappointed.”

The 2020 Opening Night features the Pittsburgh premiere of The Island of Cats – the debut film of animal wildlife photographer Mitsuaki Iwago – and attendees can expect the theater to be transformed into an island of all things “cat.” Each ticket comes with popcorn, Ramune Japanese soda, adorable cat swag, photo opportunities with cat guests, live cats on-site and more!

The Closing Night festivities feature a mashup of Japan’s craziest TV game shows, and then a screening of Rise of the Machine Girls (the insane new offering from the Japanese Exploitation genre) both of which will be accompanied by a variety of beers brought to attendee’s seats. Attendees 21+ Only,

Film lineup, trailers, and tickets can be found on the Japanese Film Festival website www.jffpgh.org

The festival is sponsored by Tekko and Sapporo, with additional support from Flower City Printers, Vestis, Tryp Hotel, Row House Cinema, and Bierport.

2020 Festival Films


Human Lost
In a dystopian future where disease has been conquered, wealth disparity increases, keeping life-prolonging technology out of the hands of the have-nots. When one man is imbued with world-changing powers, mankind is forced to face its own humanity—or lack thereof.

Violet Evergarden: Eternity and Auto Memory Doll
2020, Pittsburgh Premiere
Violet Evergarden’s story brings fans new and old into her detailed, Victorian-inspired world as our titular protagonist continues her quest to understand the meaning of love in the face of loss while helping others do the same.

Ride Your Wave
From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa, comes a tale of magical love after loss. Hinako is a passionate surfer who meets firefighter Minato. They quickly bond and Hinako teaches Minato how to surf. However, tragedy hits when Minato goes surfing during a terrible storm.

Weathering With You
With some of the most mesmerizing artwork and brilliant musical score comes the highly-anticipated film from director Makoto Shinkai. Follow the journey of a high-school boy who has run away to Tokyo and meets a bright and strong-willed girl who possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky.

Children of the Sea
2020, Pittsburgh Sneak Preview
When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works, and now she has the ability to hear calls from the ocean. Along with two friends, she is drawn into the mystery of the sudden disappearance of the world's sea creatures.

Cult Classics

Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People
A group of castaways who survive a shipwreck and are stranded on a mysterious island. The only source of food available appears to be an exotic variety of mushroom that quickly becomes addictive. Inevitably, the fungus transforms the those who have eaten it into giant, mushroom-monsters!

Rise of the Machine Girls (Closing Night)
2019, Pittsburgh Premiere
In the reboot of the cult feature, The Machine Girl, comes a high-energy action film about sisters Ami and Yoshie living in a future Japan. The two make a living by performing in fight shows, but their skills are put to the test when captured by an organ-trafficking ring.

Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi

One of the most beautiful films ever made, Kenji Mizoguchi’s craftsmanship remains unparalleled in a ghost story like no other. Taking place in the sixteenth century, amidst the Japanese Civil Wars, is a tale of family and war, men with ambition, and their relationships that suffer as a result.

Sansho the Bailiff
This classic Japanese story became one of cinema’s greatest expressions of human resilience in the face of evil. Set in 11th-century Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi tells the story of a family that is broken apart when the father is cast into exile. His wife and children are left to fend for themselves and are eventually ambushed by vicious slave traders.

Street of Shame
In this richly layered masterpiece, Kenji Mizoguchi gives audiences a devastating look into the life of prostitutes in Tokyo’s Red Light District and how they are constantly challenged by the socioeconomic realities surrounding them. Some say this film was a catalyst to the outlawing of prostitution in Japan just a few months after the film’s release.


The Island of Cats (Opening Night Film)
2019, Pittsburgh Premiere
Adapted from the hit manga, “Nekomaki”, is the heart-warming, feel-good film, THE ISLAND OF CATS. The movie follows the life of a country tabby cat, Tama, and his human servant, Daikichi, living on an island of cats. Daikichi is a seventy-year-old widower enjoying a quiet, routine life until an island newcomer opens a modern cafe encouraging Daikichi and Tama to indulge in new culinary adventures. A perfect film for food and cat lovers!

A Girl Missing
2019, Pittsburgh Premiere
Striking a deft balance between quiet character study and nuanced revenge drama, this suspenseful slow-burn absorbs viewers as one woman’s multi-pronged truth becomes a weapon, giving rise to madness, vengeance, and desire.

We Are Little Zombies
What do kids with no family, no emotions, and no future do? Form a killer rock band, of course. On a quest to regain their feelings, the Little Zombies set out on an over-saturated 8-bit adventure full of wacky songs and stirring empathy.