Where are you from and how did you become interested in Japanese films?
I’m originally from Tokyo and moved to New York City in 1998. I’ve always been into Japanese films because I grew up with them. Classics from the likes of Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu are a no-brainer, but there is a great wealth of contemporary films that are fantastic too. After a while living in the United States, I noticed that a huge number of these contemporary films never get released here. Since then I’ve been trying to find a way to bring them over.
Tell us about Japan Flix.
Our business model is pretty simple: find good films that have never been released in North America, get the rights to distribute and localize/subtitle them, and then promote and sell them. We’ve partnered up with various Japanese distribution companies that have great libraries of titles to choose from, most of which have never been seen by audiences outside of Japan. We want to show everyone that contemporary Japanese cinema is as fun and engaging as its Hollywood counterpart.
How many movies do you offer?
We’re starting out with about ten films for sale and rental. We’re hoping to have around 30 to 40 movies in our catalog by the end of the year.
How can people order the films?
Right now our subtitled versions are only available for rent and sale in North America through the iTunes store. But we’re hoping to expand to other regions and onto other platforms in the future. A lot of people ask us why we don’t distribute on DVD or Blu-ray. We’ve looked at the statistics and it’s overwhelming: digital distribution is the future of movies.
What are some of your favorite films?
One of my recent favorites is Tetsuya Nakashima’s Confessions. It got a lot of buzz at Cannes last year which is great. I love all of Nakashima’s films. Unfortunately none of them are available through Japan Flix yet. Hopefully in the near future. We do have some fantastic titles coming out later this year. Pickpocket starring Yoshio Harada is great and Three String Samurai (pictured) is a good one too.