Kamui

For an outcast in the rigidly hierarchical society of seventeenth-century Japan, the only possible road to redemption is to become a ninja, an unorthodox fighter skilled in the art of stealth. However, the ruthless world of ninjas causes some to desert in search of freedom. One such fugitive is Kamui, an invincible warrior who has decided to follow his heart and betray his despicable clan with its culture of abuse and injustice. Japan’s hottest talent, Kenichi Matsuyama, plays the rebel ninja, giving his most spectacular performance to date.

On the run, Kamui abandons secluded forests and dark mountains for the blinding light and beauty of the ocean. He crosses paths with Hanbei (Kaoru Kobayashi), an indomitable fisherman who is always on the lookout for the perfect bait, the one that will ensure abundant fish for his beloved family. When Kamui washes ashore nearly dead on a little island, Hanbei happily brings him home and nurses him back to life. However, Kamui’s arrival does not sit well with Oshika (Koyuki), Hanbei’s dear wife, who senses the danger the sea has unexpectedly brought them. Nevertheless, Hanbei and Kamui’s encounter is a fated one, destined to change both men’s lives for better or for worse. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

Abraxas

Jonen is having a crisis of faith. In his youth, he was a punk-rock musician, creating noise and onstage spectacles. Now he’s settled into a life as a Buddhist monk with a wife and five-year-old son. During his career-day speech at a local high school, however, Jonen has a public breakdown that leads to a deep depression when he realizes the importance of music to his life. In an attempt to raise Jonen’s spirits, the compassionate chief monk suggests he play a live show. As he plans for the concert, Jonen faces challenges from past loss, small-town resistance, and the possibility of alienating his family.

Full of authenticity and charm, Abraxas is a subtle exploration of a man’s journey to reconcile the spiritual and secular. Director Naoki Katô cinematically renders the film to complement its philosophy by uniting the everyday and the transcendent. Rich, rewarding, and profoundly moving, Abraxas affirms peace and happiness within and posits “once a punk rocker, always a punk rocker.” [Synopsis courtesy of the Sundance Institute]

Tales from Earthsea

Something bizarre has come over the land. The kingdom is deteriorating. People are beginning to act strange… What’s even more strange is that people are beginning to see dragons, which shouldn’t enter the world of humans. Due to all these bizarre events, Ged, a wandering wizard, is investigating the cause. During his journey, he meets Prince Arren, a young distraught teenage boy. While Arren may look like a shy young teen, he has a severe dark side, which grants him strength, hatred, ruthlessness and has no mercy, especially when it comes to protecting Teru. For the witch Kumo this is a perfect opportunity. She can use the boy’s “fears” against the very one who would help him, Ged.

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?

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog

As a Labrador puppy, Quill is sent to live with a couple, Isamu and Mitsuko Nii, who work as volunteers, training guide dogs (seeing eye dogs). When he grows to an adult dog, he is taken to a guide dog school, by a friendly, yet firm trainer Satoru Tawada. Although Quill is a little slower than the other dogs at the school, he seems to have an unusual ’empathy’ and remarkable patience with his trainers. Tawada decides that Quill would be the ideal guide dog for Mitsuru Watanabe, but Wanatabe, a lonely and ill-tempered middle aged man, isn’t as enthusiastic – he would “would rather sleep than be dragged around by a dog.”. From here, the story is narrated by Wanatabe’s daughter, Mitsuko, and slowly, Wantanbe is rehabilitated, venturing into the outside world, and learning, not only to trust other humans, but the animal at his side who guides him.