Programming director Shozo Ichiyama talks about the festival’s theme – The Hollywood Reporter

In his second year as programming director, industry veteran Shozo Ichiyama believes he has taken a step closer to realizing his vision for the Tokyo International Film Festival.

A producer known for working with China’s Jia Zhangke, Japan’s Takeshi Kitano and Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien, Ichiyama strives to make TIFF a bridge between the worlds of Japanese and global cinema and raise the standard of screened content. .

Ichiyama’s joy at the return of foreign guests for this edition is palpable. And he says he was particularly encouraged by the number of people who were willing to pay for their own trip to Tokyo to attend the festival with their films.

Another bright spot for Ichiyama and the festival, this time on the domestic front, is the higher number of Japanese films in all major sections this year.

“Last year, we couldn’t find any Japanese films for the gala selection. We had some good independent Japanese films but the majors’ production was not so active, and they postponed the release of some titles due to the pandemic situation,” Ichiyama explains. “Some thought that last year the festival did not select films from the [Japanese] big studios but that’s not true; we asked them, there were simply none available.

He also notes that TIFF received a slew of strong submissions from the Middle East this year, but fewer high-quality films from Southeast Asia and almost no titles from neighboring giant Japan.

“We only have one Chinese film, in the Asian Future section. What I’ve heard is that many movies struggle to get approval from the censorship board [in China] because it does not meet. The situation was similar at festivals in Europe, where they showed few films from China. I hope we will have a lot of good Chinese movies next year,” he said.

Now ultimately responsible for the programming of the entire festival, the situation is different from years past, where the programming of each section was chosen independently. Therefore, any criticism of the selection should be passed on to him, he said with a smile.

“Many of the films I have selected deal with social or political issues. This is not to say that I intended to choose such films, but after completing the selection process, I noticed that many had LGBTQ themes, etc. I think a lot of filmmakers are tackling those issues now,” he said.

Ichiyama spent 21 years at Tokyo Filmex and the two festivals have worked closely together since he made the jump across town to TIFF. However, after taking place simultaneously last year, Ichiyama said some moviegoers complained that too many screenings clashed, and so Filmex will open on Oct. 29, five days after the launch of TIFF.

In terms of creating more connections with the global industry, he points to the positioning of the TIFF Lounge – home to the Asia Lounge series and other discussion events – in an accessible restaurant at street level called Micro, near Yurakucho station and many places. .

“We hold chat sessions there every day, and we hope it will become a place where people can meet and then go out for dinner,” Ichiyama says. “Having this type of space is very important for a film festival.”

Another part of the initiatives to create cross-border exchanges is to invite Japanese directors who do not have film screenings, including Koji Fukada, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Hirokazu Kore-eda, to give lectures and participate in events.

And with the return of an in-person TIFFCOM content market next year, as well as expectations that air travel costs could return to more affordable levels, Ichiyama hopes even more people will make the trip to Tokyo in 2023.

About Mariel Baker

Check Also

5 Current Female Superstars Who Haven’t Appeared On WWE Programming In Over 30 Days

WWE’s female superstars continue to thrive during this new era. However, you are not alone …