Ryusuke Hamaguchi's wonderful HAPPY HOUR, like the Iwai Shunji retrospective, was also part of the Japan Now section in the Tokyo International Film Festival.
I need to give props to Japan Now. Ever since the festival started this section last year, with Ando-sensei (yup, my former university professor Kohei Ando-sensei1!!) serving as programming advisor, the section has become one of the main attractions of the festival. The screening of noteworthy (of commercial or critical merit) Japanese films of the past year, complete with Q and A sessions moderated by Ando-sensei, had been great!
I remember having dinner with Ando-sensei in August right after he had served as jury member of the Guanajuato International Film Festival (where he saw Happy Hour for the very first time and awarded it the Best International Feature Narrative award) and we discussed about the trickiness of trying to program this film at the Tokyo International Film Festival due to its length (5 hours!!!) I said to Ando-sensei that if the film would ever show in the festival, I will definitely go and see it.
I'm very glad Ando-sensei managed to program the film, and made the experience even richer by making it an all-nighter screening!