Twenty-two Japanese films will have their Los Angeles premieres during the Second Annual Japan Film Festival-Los Angeles, presented Friday through Thursday, April 10th through 16th, at Laemmleís Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica.

The festival, presented by Laemmle Theatres and the Japan America Media Association, will continue April 17th at the Downtown Independent theater in Downtown Los Angeles. This yearís festival features a wide range of films, new and old, sad and joyful, scary and funny, according to a festival spokesperson.

All the films are in Japanese with English subtitles.

The opening night film is the animated adventure The Sky Crawlers, directed by Mamoru Oshii and featuring the voices of Rinko Kikuchi, Ryo Kase, Chiaki Kuriyama and Syosuke Tanihara.

Another featured film is A Long Walk, directed by Eiji Okuda, which tells of an elderly man who befriends a neglected little girl. Veteran actor Ken Ogata stars in one of his final roles in the film that was a multiple prize winner at the 2006 Montreal World Film Festival.

The 8th Samurai, directed by , is a comedic short which imagines the predicament of an actor cast as the eighth samurai in a Japanese directorís film.

Always: Sunset on Third Street 2, directed by Takashi Yamzaki, will have its Los Angeles premiere at the festival and director Nobuo Mizutaís 252: Signal of Life will have its U.S. premiere.

The festivalís closing night film is Vacation, directed by Kadoi Hajime, which tells of a prison guard who seeks happiness and redemption from his work on death row. The film was an official selection of the 2008 Toronto Film Festival.

The Japan Film Festival-Los Angeles is dedicated to encouraging a better appreciation of contemporary Japanese culture in the Los Angeles community, the festival spokesperson said. Festival organizers believe cinema is ìa bridge that connects us allî and that through this festival, they hope to inspire open communication and the exchange of ideas between Japan and the United States.

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