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Film Festival celebrates Philippines-Japan friendship month

The month of July is Philippines-Japan friendship month, and many locations across the Philippines are celebrating in various, unique ways.

One of them involves the Eiga Sai film festival, which began at the beginning of the month, and is being held at cinemas in different parts of the Philippines. Sponsored in conjunction with The Japan Foundation, the Embassy of Japan, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the festival was the jumping off point for a month-long celebration of improved Japan and Philippines relations. An online money transfer to the Philippines is a great way to support loved ones, and watching one of the twelve films shown at Eiga Sai can be a fun way to take a break from daily life.

According to the Embassy of Japan, the film festival is a way of celebrating the 56 years of friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Philippines, and while Eiga Sai started the fun, there will be great festivities and cultural celebrations for the remainder of July. July 23 was named Philippines-Japan Friendship Day in 2006. Starting in 2012, the month-long events were expanded to other provinces in the Philippines, including Baguio, Cebu, and Davao.

The Eiga Sai film festival
As the starting point for the month, Eiga Sai featured 12 Japanese films, made between 2005 and 2012. This year marked the 15th year for the festival, and each time it provides a unique glimpse into Japanese culture for many citizens of the Philippines.

"With a wide variety of genres from action, to animation, family drama, to mystery, we want Filipinos to understand the current situation in Japan through this select Japanese cinema," said Shuji Takatori, director of the Japan Foundation. "Most of the festival films tackle current pressing issues that confront the Japanese people and society, both in the cities and rural areas."

Held at the Shrangri-La Plaza Mall, the festival is scheduled to run from July 4 to July 14, and the films are shown with English subtitles. Each movie is open to the public on a first-come first-serve basis. 

In addition to films, Eiga Sai will have other events, like photography, cultural exhibits and music concerts.

2013 is the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, and the month-long celebration helps commemorate the milestone. Many cinemas are showing films for Eiga Sai, including the Shang Cineplex Cinema at the start of July, then the FDCP Cinematheque in Davao City July 19 to the 28, Ayala Center Cinema 4 in Cebu City in August, and the UP Film Institute in Quezon City in late August.

The films being showcased
Out of the 12 films shown for Eiga Sai, the highlight will be the trilogy Always Sunset on Third Street, by director Takashi Yamazaki. The films are comedy-dramas, and revolve around the daily lives of residents of a working-class Tokyo neighborhood. Part one takes place in 1958, the second film in 1959, and the final installment is set in 1964. The films have resonated with audiences because of the hope of better times, according to Takatori.

"There is nothing like the shared experience of watching a film that unites people together," he added. "Cinema has the capability to connect us, to push the creativity and the capacity of our human spirit, to move us continuously to strive and to do better – to be better."

The first film shown at Eiga Sai was (About Her Brother) Otuoto, by famous filmmaker Yoji Yamada. The themes of the movie are unconditional love and family tensions, and the film was featured at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival as well.

Many people send money to the Philippines, and engaging in some of the Philippines-Japan friendship month activities can be a unique way to experience some culture and heritage of both countries.

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