The High quality of Japanese Movies Is Bettering, Says Ichiyama Shozo, Tokyo Competition Program Director

The daring assertion laid out by the organizers of the Tokyo Worldwide Movie Competition is that this 12 months’s totally in-person version just isn’t solely greater than earlier than, it’s additionally higher.

That applies at a corporation degree because the competition provides extra screens and overseas contributors after the COVID hiatus. It applies at a movie high quality degree too, programming director Ichiyama Shozo, tells Selection.

Please summarize the principle traces of your choice this 12 months.

This 12 months, we had extra movies submitted than final 12 months, and I used to be assured that we might obtain a stronger competitors lineup, that included seven world premiers and one worldwide premier. One joyful shock is “Wonderful Ashes” by Bui Thac Chuyen, which is the primary Vietnamese movie in our principal competitors within the historical past of Tokyo Worldwide Movie Competition.

We’ve three Japanese movies in our principal competitors, in contrast with two final 12 months. The standard of Japanese movies that are submitted is far increased than final 12 months.

What was the pondering behind the selection of “Fragments of the Final Will” as this 12 months’s opening movie?

The principle cause I chosen “Fragments of the Final Will” is as a result of it’s directed by Zeze Takahisa, who I feel is one among Japan’s most vital filmmakers. Zeze began his profession as an impartial filmmaker, then began to work with massive studios. However he continues to direct impartial movies outdoors the studios, reminiscent of hos masterpiece “Heaven’s Story,” which received the FIPRESCI Prize in Berlin in 2011. “Fragments of the Final Will” is a business movie, produced by a giant TV station, but it surely accommodates a robust anti-war message and showcases Zeze’s cinematic fashion.

You could have 10 Asian World premieres in Asian Future. How has the connection between this part and Filmex settled down?

The programmer, Kenji Ishizaka, who’s accountable for Asian Future, prioritizes these movies which haven’t been proven in every other movie festivals. The result’s that every one the movies in Asian Future are world premieres. In the meantime, Tokyo Filmex doesn’t require premiere standing. Its competitors part favors younger filmmakers, together with these whose movies have been proven elsewhere, reminiscent of Cannes, Locarno and Venice. The result’s, in case you are in Tokyo ultimately of October, you’ll be able to watch many of the high Asian movies by younger filmmakers made this 12 months.

TIFF has managed to program a mainland Chinese language movie in Asian Future. That is more and more uncommon. What’s your understanding of the issue?

I’m disillusioned that I couldn’t discover any Chinese language movie for the principle competitors this 12 months. It’s very unusual that submissions from the mainland China are only a few this 12 months. I don’t know the rationale. Folks in China say that many movies are ready for permission from the federal government to current the movies in worldwide movie festivals, however the [regulatory] committee just isn’t working correctly. “The Wire of Life”, which was shot in Interior Mongolia, is the one Chinese language movie [we have] this 12 months. It was submitted early and already had screening permission once we despatched the invitation. I hope this unusual scenario will change and we are able to have extra Chinese language movies subsequent 12 months.

TIFF has a big Japanese movie contingent. What present developments, strengths BD weaknesses in Japanese filmmaking do you discern based mostly on what has been provided to the competition for consideration?

Final 12 months, I had an issue to seek out Japanese movies which I wish to introduce on the Tokyo competition. And we didn’t program any Japanese movie within the Gala Choice in 2021. This 12 months, the scenario modified dramatically, and we obtained many extra good Japanese movies. I’ve been in a position to choose 5 Japanese movies in Gala Choice, and three in the principle competitors.

Some studios and manufacturing firms had been reluctant to launch their movies in the course of the pandemic, however this 12 months they’re very energetic in producing and releasing movies. Three Japanese movies in competitors reveals that there are promising younger impartial filmmakers who can compete within the main aggressive movie festivals within the close to future. Even in Nippon Cinema Now, the non-competitive sidebar for brand spanking new Japanese movies, I used to be in a position to choose a number of sturdy Japanese movies by new filmmakers, which can have deserved competitors. One instance is “Lightening Over Past,” a black and white epic, directed by Hanno Yoshihiro, who’s better-known as a music composer for Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhang-ke’s movies. The movie is a very impartial, made outdoors any studio or TV broadcaster, however the scale is far greater than most Japanese impartial movies. It’s very encouraging that such a courageous movie is made independently of the Japanese manufacturing system.

Why revive the Kurosawa Award now?

It’s Hiroyasu Ando, the chairman of the competition, who determined to revive Kurosawa Award. He believes that the competition ought to have this sort of honorary awards given to the filmmakers who contributed the movie tradition. I additionally suppose it’s superb that the competition has an award named after a outstanding filmmaker, as a result of it could encourage the recipients. And I do know that the choice committee prefers to provide these awards to these filmmakers who’re nonetheless energetic, fairly than those that are within the final stage of their profession.

Cannes is resisting Netflix. Venice is embracing it. How is streaming affecting TIFF’s choice?

The rationale Cannes doesn’t present Netflix movies is just due to the movie regulation in France, which defines a really lengthy holdback interval after a movie can transfer from theatrical launch to streaming. There isn’t a such regulation in Italy or Japan, and we aren’t restricted from exhibiting movies that are produced by streaming platforms. For us to pick a movie, a very powerful factor is whether or not it has a cinematic fashion or not. It’s not essential if the movie is produced by movie studio or not. We’ll choose movies so long as they haven’t already proven on a streaming platforms earlier than the competition begins.

Aside from characteristic size movies, I created a brand new part ‘TIFF Collection’ final 12 months, which reveals collection produced by TV stations or streaming platforms. This has chosen collection which are directed by filmmakers. I feel this part needs to be expanded in future, as a result of many proficient filmmakers at the moment are engaged on such collection.


The High quality of Japanese Movies Is Bettering, Says Ichiyama Shozo, Tokyo Competition Program Director