Penance

Fifteen years ago, tragedy struck a small town when a young elementary school girl Emili (Hazuki Kimura) was abducted and killed by a stranger. Four girls who had been playing with Emili at the time were the first to discover her body. The abductor is never found and the crime goes unsolved. Crazed with grief, Emili’s mother Asako (Kyoko Koizumi) condemns the four girls, none of whom can remember the abductor’s face. She tells them, “Do whatever you have to find the killer. Otherwise, you can pay a penance that I approve.” Deeply affected by Asako’s condemnation, the four girls become adults burdened with the curse of “penance,” which eventually triggers a chain of tragic events. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

Hello! Junichi

Katsuhito Ishii (“Funky Forest: The First Contact” and “The Taste of Tea”) takes on the story of Junichi–a timid third grader who can’t muster the courage to return an eraser he borrowed from his secret crush–and turns it into a children’s rock ‘n’ roll comedy. Junichi’s world is turned upside down as apprentice teacher Anna-sensei (Hikari Mitsushima) scraps her lesson plan to show the rambunctious students about life as an adult. With Anna’s unorthodox style, Junichi and his friends are able to gain confidence and pursue their goal of putting on a big concert. Co-directed with Kanoko Kawaguchi and Atsushi Yoshioka, “Hello! Junichi” brings out the kid in adults and lets kids be kids. Boasting Ishii’s signature dance numbers and Yoshiyuki Morishita (the “Japanese Steve Buscemi”) as the band’s homeroom teacher, it’s a unique experience built for future and current movie maniacs.

The Great Passage

Majime, an eccentric man in publishing company, who has unique ability of words, joins the team that will compile a new dictionary, ‘The Great Passage.’ In the eclectic team, he becomes immersed in the world of dictionaries. But the team is overwhelmed with problems. Will ‘The Great Passage’ ever be completed?