Remnants of a church statue destroyed in the 1945 atomic bombing are gathered in “Prayer: Figments of Nagasaki.”

The 16th Japan Film Festival Los Angeles kicks off Monday, Oct. 4, with a slate of features and shorts curated to introduce Japanese culture and young talent through Japanese films, and also to deepen international cultural exchange.

While last year’s festival was held onlone only due to the pandemic, this year’s iteration will be a hybrid of theatrical and online screenings.

The festival runs through Oct. 10, with in-person screenings taking place at the Marilyn Monroe Theater, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

Naoyuki Ikeda stars as a homeless shamisen master in “String.”

The films to be showcased have been gathered to reflect contemporary Japanese culture and the traditional Japanese spirit. In addition to films from Japan and the U.S., there are also selections from Canada and Germany in the open call, allowing viewers to experience Japan from a variety of perspectives.

Some 30 features and shorts have been chosen for the lineup, including historical subjects, documentaries, recent releases, environmental films and heartwarming invitees.

All film are in English or presented with English subtitles.

Advance tickets are $10 until Oct. 3. A red carpet and awards ceremony will be held at the Monroe Theater on Oct. 10.

“Microplastic Madness” is a documentary about the global plastic pollution crisis.

For the safety of all volunteers and guests, JFFLA will require everyone to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test results within 72 hours of attending in-person events. Masks are mandatory. The venue will be disinfected during changeover and masks will be offered to those who need them.

For tickets, film lineup and schedule, or more information, visit

Among the films selected to be shown at the 2021 JFFLA:

“Nankurunaisa: Everything Will Be All Right”

After the passing of Sachiko Nakata, the queen of Okinawan comedy, her story is adapted into a love story. An opportunity to see a hilarious theatrical battle that showcases the fundamental power of Okinawan theatrical performance.

Co-star Masae Nakada will attend the screening on Oct. 9.

“Love and the Grand Tug-of-War”

Director Kiyoshi Sasabe’s love story examines family and determination.

“Peaceful Death”

A home medical care worker is striving to do his best in the field of medicine every day, despite his personal conflicts. When he meets a patient with terminal lung cancer, he finds the patient’s daughter has opted for painless in-home care.

“Microplastic Madness”

A feature documentary with an optimistic take on the local and global plastic pollution crisis, as told through a refreshing urban youth point of view, with an inspiring “take action” message.

“A Down Town Doctor”

This documentary focuses on the daily life of a town doctor in Amagasaki, where the house is the in-patient room and the town is the ward. The film examines the very definitions of town physician and home healthcare.


On a volcanic island in the Savu Sea near Indonesia, a tribe of 1,500 people have survived for half a millennium by hunting whales with bamboo harpoons and handmade wooden boats powered by sails of woven palm fronds. Theatre screening only.


Based on a true story, a Japanese homeless former shamisen master tries to get back on his feet in Los Angeles. His traumatic past, however, continues to haunt him as his circumstances spiral out of control.

Star Naoyuki Ikeda will attend the screening on Oct. 10.

“Hank and Jolene”

When Hank, a likable recluse, meets a Madagascar hissing cockroach, an unconventional relationship blossoms. A love story 300 million years in the making.

Cast members Edward Buchanan, Saki Miata and Shinichiro Okano will attend the screening on Oct. 10.

“Prayer: Figments of Nagasaki”

Nagasaki, 1957. Twelve years after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, two devout Catholic women bearing heavy physical and emotional scars from the war secretly gather fragments of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue at the ruins of the Urakami Cathedral before they are relocated by city developers. Their struggles lead to a miracle on Christmas Eve.

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