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A Preview of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2020

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The 33rd Tokyo International Film Festival (TokyoIFF) runs from October 31st to November 09th and it is a physical event. Information on this page shows the various measures that will be taken by staff such as temperature checks, ensuring audiences wear masks, empty seats around viewers and other methods of ensuring physical distancing.

In terms of films, TokyoIFF has a pretty busy and diverse programme that pitches a lot of dramas alongside restored classics, animation and super sentai. On top of that, there are many interesting talks and other events scheduled with a range of guests.

Here is the festival’s trailer!

Like my last TokyoIFF post, I’ll keep this brief by writing in detail about films I haven’t covered before (or not that often) and I’ll also focus on titles from the indie end of the spectrum as well as utilising the main sections TokyoIFF has created to provide structure to this post.

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Japanese Films at Tokyo FILMeX 2020 (October 30th to November 05th)

Tokyo FILMeX 2020 runs from October 30th to November 05th. It’s the placeTokyo Filmex Poster to see arthouse films but, due to Covid-19, organisers have decided to shorten the duration of the fest and have it run alongside the Tokyo International Film Festival, although it’s still a physical event. This move positions the festival in a way to make it akin to Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. You can read a statement here which explains more.

Anyway, the festival has quite a few titles from Japan or set in Japan that are worth checking out.

Click on a title to be taken to the festival page:

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Japanese Films at the BFI London Film Festival 2020

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2020 has knocked everyone sideways, not least film fests across the globe, many of which went virtual to protect audiences from Covid-19. This year’s London Film Festival follows many others in being a virtual event as well as having physical screenings in Loondon. It runs from October 07th to the 18th and viewers across the UK will be able to access all of the films wherever they are. Reflecting the other tumultuous events of this year, specifically the long-ignored issue of racial justice, there is a substantial presence of black filmmakers, a traditionally under-served demographic, that is finally getting their chance to shine.

In terms of Japanese films there are none. We get the first episode of a TV show. This lack of films is rather ironic considering 2020 is the year that the BFI is going all in on its Japanese movie coverage to leverage any and all interest in the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics but I guess it’s another sign of a Covid-19 casualty.

Here’s what is programmed (click on the title to be taken to the corresponding festival page):

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Japanese Films at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020

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The Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 (VIFF) runs from September 24th to October 07th and it is packed with over 100 feature films from around the world. This year’s fest is going to be available for people to view online so this means that viewers in British Columbia can watch from the comfort of their homes via VIFF Connect, VIFF’s new online streaming platform. There will be talks and conferences that are open the everyone around the world to tune into on top of that.

Here’s the round-up of Japanese films.

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Japanese Films at the San Sebastian International Film Festival 2020 (September 18th-26th)

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This year’s San Sebastian International Film Festival runs from September 18th to the 26th and they have announced their selection of films. Due to the Covid-19, the festival has reduced what it will show and created a mixed programme of physical and online activities (details here). There are three Japanese films, as far as I am aware and they are detailed below. Take a look!

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Japanese Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2020 (September 10th-20th)

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Post Header

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10th to the 20th and they have announced their selection of films. Due to the Covid-19, it is a reduced festival with just 50 titles but there are works from major directors as well as plenty of new talents. In terms of attending the fest, there are some in-person events like drive-ins, outdoor screenings and some indoor screenings, that will be mixed with online screenings and virtual press conferences talks. There are two Japanese films and they are both by leading ladies in the industry. Take a look!

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Japanese Films at the Venice International Film Festival 2020 (September 02nd – 12th)

The Venice International Film Festival is going to take place from September 02nd to September 12th. It is the 77th edition and the first big film festival to take place physically since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is one Japanese feature and two VR experiences with a Japanese connection. Without further ado, here are the films!

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Japanese Films at the Locarno Film Festival 2020 (05th-15th August)

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The Locarno Film Festival runs from August 05th to the 15th and they have announced their selection of films. Like last year there are two Japanese films (well, one’s a US-Japan co-production and the other’s a France-Japan co-production) but these are both shorts and were subjects of crowdfunding campaigns. Apparently, you can watch the films online when the festival goes live. Here they are!

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“Bleached Bones Avenue” Interview with Akio Fujimoto (Director) and Kentaro Kishi (Cinematographer) and Kazutaka Watanabe (Producer) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Kazutaka Watanabe, Akio Fujimoto, Kentaro Kishi - Bleached Bones Avenue

Bleached Bones Avenue is director Akio Fujimoto’s follow-up to his drama Passage of Life (2017). It is another film that looks at the shared links between Japan and Myanmar but this time, instead of a family drama, it is unearthing history.

Deep in the hills of Myanmar’s Chin state, Fujimoto and his crew met with a group of people who are dedicated to recovering the bones of Japanese soldiers who died during the Imphal campaign. It was a reckless attack by poorly supplied soldiers who were forced into a gruelling retreat through tough terrain and severe monsoon rains. Beset by malaria and dysentery, a lack of food and medical supplies, many men became sick and many perished, their bodies decomposing in the places they fell. The route they took became known as Hakkotsu Kaido, Bleached Bones Avenue in English. The local hill tribes who experienced these events have passed on their memories to their descendants who Fujimoto and his crew observe for this 16 minute film that connects past and present in a unique way.

The film’s director Akio Fujimoto, actor and cinematographer Kentaro Kishi and producer Kazutaka Watanabe sat down to discuss their work and went into fascinating detail.

This interview was conducted with the help of Kazutaka Watanabe’s lively interpretation.

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Interview with VIDEOPHOBIA Director Daisuke Miyazaki [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

One of the highlights of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 was VIDEOPHOBIA, the latest work of Daisuke Miyazaki. A frequent visitor to Osaka, many of his works are youth-focused, with Yamato (California) (2016) and Tourism (2018) being screened at the festival. His films frequently capture the cultural zeitgeist for young people as young women with smartphones navigate various issues to carve out their own niche in the world. Yet VIDEOPHOBIA comes completely out of left-field as it’s an existential horror movie where technology drives a young woman into a fog of paranoia and fear.

Filmed around the less well-known areas of the city of Osaka and shot in black and white, it is a deeply unsettling experience as we witness melancholy 20-something Ai (Tomona Hirota) have a one-night stand with a stranger only to discover that a highly explicit sex-tape has been made of the encounter. It is a shocking discovery that plunges her into a panic that gets worse the more technology manipulates and alters her perception of herself. Things get so bad that she begins to question her own sanity and identity, realizing that the only way to rectify her situation is through total dissolution of her character. The audience is prompted to think about various social issues as Miyazaki pries apart the cracks in contemporary life and how incessant exposure to technology alters how we perceive ourselves. Full review here.

Miyazaki sat down to discuss the making of the film, the real-world topics that form the basis of the story and how he hopes the audience will engage with it amidst the ironies of our always-connected social media landscape.

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