Eiga-Sai 2017 delves into Japanese humor

The concept of laughter pervades all aspects of culture back to its beginning

Eiga-Sai 2017, a festival of Japanese film and culture, marks its 10th year and will take place at kino Lucerna from Feb. 16 to 22. The festival this year is called Japanese Laugh, and some amount of comedy plays into each of the films.

Aside from films there are performances of kyōgen theatre, music with taiko drums, family-friendly workshops, a lecture on theater and a symposium on manga and anime.

The relationship Japanese have to laughter is rather specific, according to festival organizers, and plays a larger role than most foreigners think. If the sun goddess Amaterasu wasn’t lured out of her cave with laughter the world would still be drowned in darkness. Zen masters also achieve enlightenment through absurd humor.

The festival kicks off with the film Rent-A-Cat, which offers a hefty dose of cuteness. It is not the only feline-themed film. The closing day features Samurai Cat, with a historical warrior who finds some adventures while cat sitting.

The Floating Castle adds some comedy to historical action in its retelling of the 1590 Siege of Oshi, when townspeople were faced by much larger forces. History does not get off so easily. Time travel blends with history in Time Scoop Hunter, about a journalist who goes way back to find the facts.

Horror fans know that the genre is taken very seriously in Japan. Hair Extensions is a wild fantasy horror with elements of comedy, based on the idea that the soul resides in the hair.

Popular actor Kitano Takeshi appears in Many Happy Returns, a comedy about a struggle for leadership in a cult that performs fake miracles. More satire occurs in The University of Laugh, about efforts to impose censorship on a mediocre play, in the end making it more famous than it would have been.

Other films cover the family genre, professional story telling, computer viruses and an entry from the long-running Tora-san comedy series.

The festival is organized by the Czech-Japanese Association, in co-operation with the Embassy of Japan in the Czech Republic, The Japan Foundation and the Lucerna Palace. Tickets including discounted accreditations are already available for purchase in the Lucerna’s box office as well as online.

For more information visit www.eigasai.cz or www.facebook.com/events

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