Staff Picks: 7 Must-See Films at the 16th Annual JAPAN CUTS Festival

Not sure which JAPAN CUTS film to watch? With only a few days to go until the festival kicks off on July 26, we asked our dedicated film team to curate a list of their top picks from the lineup. From a daring J-horror debut to a heartwarming ode to plushies—there’s something for everyone here. 

Tuesday, August 1, 6:30 pm ET
One of the most powerful performances at this year’s JAPAN CUTS is from 11-year-old Kana Osawa, star of Amiko. Strange, whimsical, and palpable, Osawa delivers a stunning portrayal of an oddball grade-schooler, and we urge you not to miss it. 

Best Wishes to All
Thursday, July 27, 9 pm ET
JAPAN CUTS is doing a horror movie? This debut feature film from director Yuta Shimotsu is produced by the creator of Ju On: The Grudge. A beautifully disturbing film, Best Wishes to All is a slow burn with ever-increasing stakes and leaves you questioning reality. 

From the End of the World
Saturday, August 5, 9:30 pm ET
The latest film from Kaz I Kiriya, director of the cult hit Casshern, spans time and space in a mind-bending film about the final two weeks of planet Earth. The movie’s big in scope but centers itself on the aching of a young girl’s heart.

I Am a Comedian
Saturday, July 29, 3:30 pm ET
A deeply impactful documentary following comedian Daisuke Muramoto, I Am A Comedian explores the subjects taboo in Japanese culture, politics, and media, and the ramifications of an artist crossing this line.

MONDAYS: See you “this” week!
Sunday, August 6, 12 pm ET
Groundhog Day meets Office Space in this fast-paced comedy about a group of co-workers forced to relive the same day over and over and over again. Zippy, zany, and inventive fun led by actress Wan Marui and prolific actor and comedian Makita Sports!

People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind
Saturday, August 5, 6:30 pm ET
As comforting as a warm blanket, People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind is the story of college students who prefer the company of stuffed animals. A gentle and reflective movie, it’s the opposite of the typical raucous youth film.

Wednesday, August 2, 9 pm ET
In America, there was Napster. In Japan, there was Winny. This snapshot of Japan at the dawn of file sharing pits progress vs. copyright in an engrossing court case with the future of the internet in the balance.

Images: MONDAYS: See you “this” week! © CHOCOLATE Inc (top); ©︎ AMIKO Film Partners; © 2023 “Best Wishes to All” Film Partners; From the End of the World © 2023 KIRIYA PICTURES; I Am A Comedian © DOCUMENTARY JAPAN INC; © People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind Film; © 2023 “Winny” Film Partners.