We all face the limits of our physical and mental strength sometimes. When that happens, we have two options: we can give up, or clench the teeth and try harder. The 13th edition of the Eigasai Festival brings a selection of films from The Japan Foundation in which leading characters endure ill fate. Both Czechs and the Japanese are arduous nations. In 2020, we are celebrating 100 years since the beginning of official relationships between our two nations. We have gone a long way together. Over the years, we have found a lot that we have in common and, hopefully, some understanding as well. We believe with all our heart that the strength, perseverance, determination, strong will and trust in oneself as depicted in the stories of the characters featured in this year’s festival films may inspire you in your own lives.
Let us start in the Tokushima prefecture where the wives of the local farmers have to convince them as they start selling decorative leaves. However crazy that may sound, you cannot but keep your fingers crossed for them as they search for their Beautiful Life. The young generation of the Japanese are losing both illusions and trust in the future. A construction worker, a nurse and a street musician all have a chance to make it to the top. However, you can see who of them will actually make it in The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue. How does a stepchild you have been bringing up for almost all her life suddenly get the urge to know her biological father at all costs? Your little girl suddenly turns into a stranger. This is what the protagonist of Dear Etranger has to cope with. Various forms of loss or estrangement of someone you love are the theme of Three Stories of Love. Fate can be really cruel sometimes, such as when you know what it has in store for you. Then, you have to keep the family together like in Her Love Boils Bathwater. This year, we are bringing just two history films. A child is the hero in both of them. Being a child does not mean being weak. A child has a dream and an adult has experience. A master and a student tell stories from the times of the samurais in the rakugo genre in His Master’s Voice. Being born a girl in Japan in the early 20th century was definitely not easy. To safeguard rice – the basic commodity at the time – and thus survival for her family, little Oshin has to become adult at just seven years of age (Oshin). Every one of us got lost at one point or another. But what do you do if you are a kitten in a completely foreign town? Animated tomcats Rudolf and Gottalot join their cat forces and get to understand the meaning of home. We are also bringing the European premiere of a unique documentary Bon Uta: Song from Home. The citizens of Futaba, a town in the evacuated Fukushima area, are only allowed to take back memories from their homes in the aftermath of the destructive disaster of 2011. They must leave everything else behind. The view of derelict gardens and crumbling houses brings tears to their eyes. Only the legacy remains – your home stays home in your heart, in a song, in keeping a tradition alive. The Olympic Games, which are approaching in 2020, evoke a sense of positive energy, pride and belonging. Just remember Nagano 1998. Yet, Věra Čáslavská was and still remains our inspiration, a honorary member of the Czech-Japan Association, an icon of her era and the Olympic winner from Tokio in 1964. We would like to pay homage to her by screening Věra 68. She is the very personification of our festival’s motto, which sounds somewhat like a prayer in Japanese: When you fall down seven times, get up the eighth time. In Czech, we dared paraphrase Czechoslovak Olympian Emil Zátopek. We sincerely hope that this year’s films will motivate you to never give up.