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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]

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.