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22nd Tokyo International Film Festival – General comments by the juries

The curtain fell to complete the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival with Eastern Play becoming the victor of three awards in the Competition section.

We received the general comments from the members who served as juries of respective sections, namely, “TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix”, “Winds of Asia – Middle East” and “Japanese Eyes”.

Enjoy our must-read articles.

・“TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix” General Comment
・“Winds of Asia – Middle East” General Comment:“Winds of Asia – Middle East” section – President of Jury, Mr. Koshi Ueno
・“Japanese Eyes” General “Japanese Eyes” section – President of Jury, Ms. Yuko Sekiguchi
※※ Click to view each general comments.

22nd Tokyo International Film Festival - Awards results

22nd Tokyo International Film Festival "TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix" General Comments:
On awarding the "TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix"

Marking its 2nd year, the impressive drama and documentary film titles from the countries and regions of the world were gathered once again for the “natural TIFF” section, which was started as one of the film screening sections in the Tokyo International Film Festival, under the banner of global environmental protection and human coexistence with nature. As the result made after the careful considerations, including the film entries from different sections produced along this theme; Wolf (directed by Nicolas Vanier / France) won the "TOYOTA Earth Grad Prix” with the consensus of all three judges. The story is about a boy who lives in the harsh mountains of Siberia, who was promised to become a head of the family in the future. While spending the days fighting their natural predators, the wolves; he encounters a wounded she-wolf. Deeply touched when seeing the compassion between the she-wolf and the cub, that was no different from men; a boy decides to protect the wolf by breaking the law set by the family. Directing, acting, and cinematography all zeroed in on the viewers with unison. The film was full of power and precisely depicted the "symbiosis with nature," with an emotional touch. The workmanship of the film was appropriate for the purpose of this award. When the director, Mr. Vanier, received the news of the award, he was greatly pleased and sent us the video message for the award ceremony but couldn’t make a visit. As a sequel to the incident, we later learned that he was a person of principle who wouldn’t aboard the airplane which polluted the earth by scattering gasoline.

We may also add that another allegorical drama, The Mermaid and the Diver (directed by Ms. Mercedes Moncada Rodoríguez / Mexico = Spain) which was based on the legend of the people who live by the sea in Nicaragua, Central America, was also an unforgettable and attractive film as well.

Festival “Winds of Asia – Middle East” General Comment:
“Winds of Asia – Middle East” section – President of Jury, Mr. Koshi Ueno

Once again, group of films rich in variety were gathered from the vast regions including the Middle East to Northeastern Asia for the "Winds of Asia – Middle East". The careers of the creators varied from rookies to the veterans, and also the trends of film entries varied from the experimental to the entertainment titles. Amongst those 20 films, Director Ounie Lecomte’s A Brand New Life (Korea = France) was chosen for the “Best Asian – Middle Eastern Film Award”. The film seems to be the director’s autobiographical story, but her skills with controlled narrative which highlighted the girl’s loneliness who was abandoned in an orphanage was so sophisticated that it was hard to believe that she was still a rookie. Her deliberate directing is clearly demonstrated in the opening of the film where a girl clinging to her father’s back who pedals a bicycle, is brought to the orphanage and was fostered out without her knowing it; the face of her father is never revealed in these sequences which include them purchasing her clothes or even in the scene where they eat together.

We can also include I Saw the Sun by the Director, Mr. Mahsun Kirmizigül (Turkey) as the film which earned the special mention. The film which depicted the hardship of the Kurdish family in Turkey, who abandoned their home land because of the civil war and moved to Istanbul, and some even reached Norway; had the use of editing and music which were somewhat old-fashioned, but the excellent film with great motivation was beyond mere story of refugees which incorporated the gender issues in a patriarchal society.

Other films which garnered the attention at the jury meeting were Director, Mr. Maziar Miri’s The Book of Law (Iran); Director, Mr. Shahram Alidi’s Whisper with the Wind (Iran) and furthermore, a cinematic theoretical film, Shirin (Iran), which was directed by a great veteran, Mr. Abbas Kiarostami.

Also, apart from these films, Talentime (Malaysia), a posthumous of Director, Ms. Yasmin Ahmad, who have passed away last year, was a film full of charm which continued The Convert (Malaysia), her last year’s film entry, in which we witnessed her efforts to step out towards the wider world, when compared from series of films starting with her first, which was centered on the story about the family life. Therefore her death was extremely sorrowful, but with that note in our mind and considering that all of her works have screened at TIFF; we presented the “Winds of Asia – Middle East, Special Award for Lifetime Achievement” to Director, Yasmin Ahmad.

22nd Tokyo International Film Festival “Japanese Eyes” General Comment:
“Japanese Eyes” section – President of Jury, Ms. Yuko Sekiguchi

The “Japanese Eyes” which met its 6th session this year, introduced the lineup of films, which were very much like scooping the diversity in a nation called Japan with a large net. The mesh of the net was extremely large and there were some film titles which tended to slip through the net. But the characteristics of the works collected here varied, starting with the peculiar film, which in a sense had an air of refusal to be seen, following with the film which made a bold visual challenge, or film which harmonized the cultural genres such as painting, calligraphy and music, and also the film which showed the naked uncertainty of a writer; which can all be unmistakably called the works about "modern day Japan."

These selections were focused to show the diversity to the "viewers abroad." The decision for the choice was made, not for the reasons that the films looked well when seen together with other works or because of their cultures or characteristics that stood up when compared with the others, but the decisive factor was the sole lambent individuality of the film and its potential for the future. The Best Picture Award was given to a single film. We had no intentions to increase the awardees. We presented the award to the LIVE TAPE directed by Mr. Tetsuaki Matsue, which captured the street live performance of a singer-song-writer with the self-convinced lengthy continuous shot.

List of respective film reviews:

Director: Mr. Takuya Fukushima
The mere presence of Kouta Kusano connected the film and reality (the audience). This film shows a certain community. The conversations are completed within this community, thus if the audiences do not make efforts to show interest and understanding, they will be declined from viewing the film. However, this sense that the film holds is distinctly like the way the modern day Japan is like.

To Walk Beside You
Director: Mr. Yuya Ishii
Film is a well written and is created with the swinging tempo and music. The depiction of the film up to the characters coming out to the big city is wonderful. But the ambiguity of the comparison between the sex with the high school classmate, in contrast with the hero’s sex with the woman who lives in reality, may have produced the unintentional effect for the director. Common opinions among the juries were their limitless interest for the future of this author.

Jungle-House Three-Farts / Sanpei Hayashiya
Director: Mr. Toshiyuki Mizutani
For better or worse, this is a documentary showing the charms of the late Master comedian, Sanpei Hayashiya rather than a film. While you can see how and why he became the Japan's first TV comedian, it also lacks an objective and critical perspective and seems like Ebina (Sanpei’s) family movie. But the film is important as a record.

The Night of Whirlwind Restaurant
Director: Mr. Tetsuo Shinohara
Snow piles up on a white plate. Before long the snow begins to quietly accumulate and becomes one restaurant in the street corner. The spirit of the intention to create the world of fantasy for adults shows throughout the films in camera angles and calligraphy of the titles. The visual where the window transforms into the screen in another dimension is beautiful. There is stability in this film as sense of superb fantasy that gives us the moment of repose, but is rather lacking in the experimental efforts to portray the modern day Japan. But we may be wrong to ask for it to begin with.

Palm of the Hand Stories
Directors: Mr. Takushi Tsubokawa, Mr. Nobuyuki Miyake, Mr. Tsukasa Kishimoto and Mr. Yuya Takahashi
We acknowledged the enthusiasm to make the adaptations of Yasunari Kawabata’s story, but setting the period of this film similar to the original piece worked negatively. As the result, the audiences realized how difficult it was to create a sense of time with in the limited budget and how hard it was to create the air of the period for the modern young actresses and actors. In particular, because of Director, Mr. Hiroshi Shimizu’s Mr. Thank You (1936, production year), we couldn’t help comparing it to Thank you, an episode in this film title. The opinions of all the juries were that it could have been better if the films were created as contemporary pieces.

Director: Mr. Hiroyuki Matsumura
Film received high evaluations because it was experimental and cinematic. The dramatics performed by the two players, Ms. Yoko Fujita and Mr. Shun Sugata, and the directions which used window of Tochika (a military pillbox enclosure) as a screen was wonderful. Above all, the evaluations focused on the air of heaviness in the long narrative of Mr. Sugata before he sets the fire. But the film didn’t receive the Grand Prix because there was a slight uneasiness with the sound recording and the processing of the film which was unintentional for the director.

If Blessed
Director: Mr. Kite Okachimachi
The crime brought the man and the woman together. Their changes of emotions were performed in the scenes where there were no significant movement or episodes; Ms. Machiko Ono and the rookie, Mr. Masashi Kubota were wonderful receiving a great reputation. The sorrowfulness of sharing love making beyond the distance of the room in apartment and the prison cell would remain in the film history. However, there was too much music. Also the conceptual part of the film didn’t make us feel its catharsis but rather gave us the feeling of the oldness.

Director: Mr. Tetsuaki Matsue
We gave a high evaluation to the ability and delicate directorial skills of Director Matsue who created a film which at first glance seemed to be like the haphazard rolling of the video tape, but this actually was self-convincing and intentional effort. We gave this film a unanimous vote as a winner for Best Picture Award. The talent of the filmmaker dwelled throughout the film, namely the skill of setting the distance between the camera and the subject, the method of affirming the human existence, and the way the theme was revealed. The vitality of Kenta Maeno’s singing voice resonated with the film and gave a spark to it.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by JKA.
21st Tokyo International Film Festival(2008)