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A Guide to Watching Eiga Sai at Shangri-La

We still have until this weekend to complete all 10 entries to Eiga Sai this year. I think as an avid fan of Japanese films, it’s just right for me to write a short smart guide in watching Eiga Sai particularly in Shang. 

  • To secure yourself a ticket, you must be in line an hour (weekdays) or two (weekends) before the film showing. I’m not kidding. This has been so commercialized and every year more and more people are anticipating this film festival. No wonder, films are getting more exciting every year. Tickets are distributed 30 minutes before the show starts. Strictly one ticket per person on a first-come, first-serve basis. Last year, when the fest was coming to a close, they distributed the tickets an hour before the show, perhaps to disperse the crowd at the Cinema lobby due to increased public demand. So it’s your call what/who to bring to kill boredom. I watched the first hour of Hunger Games when I was in line this afternoon. 
  • Figure out how to get a VIP/Festival Pass. We just learned about this yesterday and today I saw what it’s like. Someone from the Shangri-La staff recognized me from yesterday and lent me his VIP pass. I was prioritized along with the other few VIP pass holders. Wow. No more waiting and falling in line. I was able to watch all three films when the maximum you can get as a regular viewer is just two (because you are most likely to be inside the cinema when the tickets for the next film are distributed). There was a hint of guilt looking to the people behind me who patiently waited but I convinced myself I deserved it because I never had used one in my many years of watching and that I didn’t asked for it instead I gladly welcomed an invitation. 
  • Chance Seats, this is where you go when the line to the entrance was cut before you. You fall in line again (yes.) by the door of the dedicated festival cinema and wish that expected VIPs won’t make it until 10 minutes after the film starts. Don’t fret, there are usually just a few of them showing up. In which case, your wish will grant you the reserved seats for them. 
  • You cannot bring your food inside the cinema unless you bought it from the Cinema Snack Bar. You can deposit your food to their staff before the cinema entrance in exchange for a reference number or just finish your food before you get inside. 
  • Complete the survey. It is not required but in order for us to get better Eiga Sai cinema experience, we have to. A few pen strokes wouldn’t hurt. 


  • My Review on the Movie Tomorrow’s Joe, an entry to Eiga Sai 2012 here.

Eiga Sai 2012 Entry: Tomorrow’s Joe

I can miss Cine Europa and many other international film fest in Shangri-La, but Eiga Sai (Japanese Film Festival), no. Never. Today’s plan was Virgin Labfest marathon but after learning that the tickets are sold out for all remaining shows, I  rushed to follow my good friend Grace to Shang, who’s early in line for the 4:30PM film. 

The film Tomorrow’s Joe is a story about two boxing rivals: The slum-dwelling amateur, Joe and a world class professional, Rikiishi. Powered with their strong will to destroy each other, each led different ways to make the most-awaited match happen in their boxing careers.

  • The film, as most Japanese films I’ve seen, is very unpredictable. 
  • Musical scoring is perfect. Different guitar distortions that adds excitement on every fight scene and a remarkable guitar riff every time Joe rises up from knockdown.
  • They didn’t speak of boxing as a technical sport. Identifying weight limits of featherweight and bantamweight was the hardest. 
  • Japanese films are seldom set in slum areas (this is actually the first I’ve seen) in around 1930’s or 40’s (personally identified as hinted the cameras used) That alone piqued my interest.
  • The Japanese are excellent in creating a movie character personality, not necessarily a strong one, but always interesting. Keeping the consistency  of ones character (through gestures or/and dialogues) from start to end of the film is another great thing. In this film, Joe never laughed or cried. He speaks very little and there you’ll get yourself acquainted with him. The writer must have spared him the memorizing for he needs to learn boxing. 
Disclaimer: This is my personal review-reviewhan of this film, not a critic or anything expert on film reviews. To gain myself a little credibility, let me share that I have been watching Eiga Sai since 2007 when it wasn’t even shown in malls but in a small theater in CCP (Manuel Conde Theater). 
This also serves as my invitation to you to give Eiga Sai a try. This may mean combating a bigger crowd for me but may earn me more Japanese film buddies, right? By the way, the tickets are normally distributed 30 minutes to an hour before the film starts, be there an hour ahead, believe me, you don’t want to disappoint yourself. 

  • Watch Tomorrow’s Joe full-length with English subtitle here. (If you can find all other entries from the internet, send me links please.)
  • Download the Eiga Sai 2012 flyer/schedule here.

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