The largest Japanese contemporary film festival JAPAN CUTS will be welcoming its twelfth year hosting exciting premieres and guest stars this coming Thursday. This year, the festival has maintained its high standard for taste in a whole shebang of bittersweet dramas, pioneering independent productions as well as hot and new live-action animes, with a lot of them being cross-country collaborations. The opening ceremony on Thursday the 19th features the North American Premiere of a family oriented film “Ramen Shop” by director Eric Khoo, starring Takumi Saitoh (both the director and the actor will be present for post screening Q&A).

Preceded by Joe Odagiri, Takumi Saitoh might be the best-known guest star among the U.S. audiences for this year’s JAPAN CUTS. To everyone’s joy, “Ramen Shop” is not the only film he will be presenting at the festival. His directorial debut “Blank 13” is included in the lineup too. Though Saitoh is mostly seen as an in-demand actor, his first directorial effort has gained him wide acclaim. “Blank 13” is also a family drama but with a much darker theme comparing to “Ramen Shop”. Both films sold out immediately after tickets went on sale.

Before flying to New York City, Saitoh visited and volunteered at the flood disaster impacted area in Hiroshima on Monday. The trip was supposed to be a part of his private schedule as his agency was never notified but local residents recognized him and asked for autographs and photos. The photos were then posted online. His actions received praise and appreciation from across the country.

Another highlight for the festival is the U.S. premiere of live-action film for anime classic, “Bleach”. Sota Fukushi will play the protagonist, high-school-student-turned-soul-reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki. The film also has Hana Sugisaki as Rukia Kuchiki, Erina Mano as Oriname Inoue, Ryo Yoshizawa as Uryu Ishida, and Miyavi as Byakuya Kuchiki. The live action film will be based on the first season of the series, the Agent of the Shinigami arc. The theme song, “Mosquito Bite”, is performed by Japanese emo band Alexandros. After long disappointment for the latest plot of the original comic book, many fans are eager to see whether this live-action movie will bring back the passion and glory from the early day hype.

A decent amount of the films featured at JAPAN CUTS have long since sold out and not many tickets are left for the remaining ones. Of those still on sale I strongly urge that you don’t miss out the quality buddy comedy “We Make Antiques!” (“A cape flick that’s the genuine artifact” – Japan Times), the self-conversational spirit exploration “Side Job.” and the finale of renowned yakuza series “Outrage Coda” featuring iconic director/actor/screenwriter Takeshi Kitano. The human voice exhibit “Empty Orchestras and the Speed of Your Voice” is also worth checking out if you’re interested in a bold, experimental audiovisual adventure.

We will soon bring you more comments and pictures after our journalist comes back from the event. Click here for official information updates and ticket purchase. Stay tuned!

See official trailer below:

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