After a year in which it hosted a stripped-down and pandemic-influenced edition, the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF, October 30-November 8) is back this year in a more conventional format, but with a structure completely new programming and management team. .
TIFF President Hiroyasu Ando explains that these changes were not brought about by the pandemic, but introduced because it “seemed necessary to revitalize various aspects of the festival.” Shozo Ichiyama, known internationally as a producer and director of the highly respected Tokyo Film Festival Filmex, joined TIFF as Programming Director earlier this year and has already initiated several changes.
“Ichiyama has a keen eye for film selection and many industry connections, both in Japan and overseas,” Ando said. “We entrusted him with the reorganization of the sections and the clarification of the selection policy for each of them.
The festival also has a new home – from the changing venues of Roppongi, where it has been held for 17 years, to the Ginza-Hibiya district, which Ando says “has a long history as a center of cinema in Tokyo. », And has many cinemas. , hotels, restaurants and cultural facilities. It is also the headquarters of Tokyo Filmex, now headed by former Ichiyama deputy Naoki Kamiya, which, like last year, will be held at the same time as TIFF.
One of Ichiyama’s first tasks was to refresh the International Competition section, which, given that it takes place after a series of major festivals, has in the past struggled to secure world premieres. According to Ichiyama, TIFF still does not have a strict world premieres policy as the goal is simply to present solid programming, but he was surprised to find many quality Asian films available for a first screening this year. . Among the 15 titles in competition, 10 are world premieres, including that of Brillante Mendoza Refund, Bahman Ghobadi The four walls, and Lucky third time of Happy Hour co-writer Tadashi Nohara.
“A lot of strong Asian films were available, probably because few of them made it to the big festivals this year,” Ichiyama explains. “As some big festivals did not take place last year due to the pandemic, there is still a backlog of Hollywood films and other films waiting for festival releases, so there has not been so much room for Asian cinema. As a result, many Asian films will premiere in Tokyo. “
Among the main changes that Ichiyama introduced, two sections that focus on emerging filmmakers – Asian Future, programmed by Kenji Ishizaka, and Japanese Cinema Splash – have been combined into one section. “After speaking with Ishizaka, we agreed that good Japanese films from new filmmakers should compete with young filmmakers from the rest of Asia,” Ichiyama explains. While Asian Future’s non-Japanese films only need international premiere status, this year’s lineup includes 10 world premieres, including two Japanese ones.
Meanwhile, the Japan Now section, a panorama of recent Japanese cinema, has been renamed Nippon Cinema Now with a renewed emphasis on showing more diverse local films to global audiences. The lineup includes a combination of world premieres and Japanese films screened at other Asian festivals, such as Naoko Ogigami’s. Riverside Mukolitta who played in Busan. It also features Keisuke Yoshida as the Focused Director, and screenings of his feature films will include Intolerance and Blue.
“European premieres are still available for many of these films, so we hope to show them at festivals like Berlin or Rotterdam,” says Ichiyama. Likewise, the eight films in the World Focus section of TIFF, including the recent Venice winner He Buco, are mostly without local distributors, so the festival hopes to catch the attention of Japanese buyers.
Scrambling for a job
While in recent years TIFF has been looking at Japanese films for the opening and closing of the festival, it will open this year with Clint Eastwood’s crying macho and closing with the musical by Stephen Chbosky Dear Evan Hansen.
Ichiyama says it’s just a coincidence that two US studio films were chosen, although this also reflects the number of North American films scrambling for festival slots. Two other highly publicized films by American directors, that of Michael Showalter Tammy Faye’s eyes and that of Wes Anderson The French dispatch, will be screened in the Gala section. Other sections of TIFF include Japanese Animation, which focuses on the late animator Yasuo Otsuka and the Kamen Rider series, Japanese Classics, the Youth section and TIFF Series, which will screen two episodes of HBO Asia Folklore 2 anthology.
Obviously, the pandemic still has an impact on the festival. At the time of writing, TIFF is predicting more than 100 physical screenings in various locations, with strict security measures in place. Tokyo cinemas can currently operate at 100% capacity but with mandatory masks and temperature controls. Foreign guests of the festival will be limited to a handful of filmmakers and industry figures, including jury chairman Isabelle Huppert and her fellow juror, Malaysian producer Lorna Tee.
TIFF also hosts several online events, including the Asia Lounge Conversation Series (although some sessions will be held physically and live), a series of Japanese animation seminars, and online Q&A after film screenings. . The World Cinema Conference, with speakers such as Cannes Deputy General Delegate Christian Jeune and Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian, will be held physically and also live. The second edition of Asia Lounge, organized with the contribution of Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, will feature speakers such as Huppert, Mendoza, Ghobadi, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini.
Presentation activities will be at the heart of Tokyo’s content market this year
Held online for the second time this year, TIFFCOM (November 1-3) is taking full advantage of the virtual format to expand its global reach. “Until now, physical screenings and seminars could only be attended at fixed dates and times within the capacity limits of the venue. The upload gave great flexibility to organizers and viewers, ”said Yasushi Shiina, CEO of TIFFCOM.
He adds that the virtual format also reduces the pressure of direct programming clashes – this year TIFFCOM is taking place at the same time as the American Film Market (AFM, November 1-5). “In fact, this year our overseas buyer registrations increased significantly, surpassing last year’s numbers even before the registration deadline. As both markets are online, this allows some AFM participants to participate in TIFFCOM as well. “
Similar to last year, TIFFCOM will feature virtual kiosks, an online business match, online screenings and a series of webinars. Last year’s virtual TIFFCOM attracted 250 exhibitors from 28 countries and regions, as well as 467 buyers, including 129 from Japan and 224 from the rest of Asia. One big draw was the extension of its pitching activities to three separate events, all of which will be held again this year – Tokyo Gap Financing Market (TGFM), VIPO’s Japanese Movie & Animation Pitching (JMAP) and MPA / DHU / TIFFCOM masterclass and pitching competition.
TGFM, which focuses on projects seeking the latest funding, has selected 20 projects, including 14 live feature films, three animated feature films and three TV series. The line-up includes Elise Girard’s Sidonie in Japan and Today Tomorrow… by Hong Kong director Ray Yeung (Suk Suk). Last year’s selection included Edwin’s Revenge is mine, everyone else pays cash, which won the Locarno Golden Leopard and will be screened in the World Focus section of TIFF.
JMAP will present four live action projects and four animation projects from Japan, which are looking for international partners, while the MPA / DHU / TIFFCOM event features a masterclass with producer Emile Sherman (The King’s Speech) and offers new filmmakers the chance to win trips to meet industry figures in Australia and Los Angeles.
TIFFCOM’s webinar lineup includes “Netflix: From Asia to the World,” where Netflix Japan executives Kaata Sakamoto and Michael Smith will examine how series such as Squid game and Alice in the land of borders have exploded internationally. Other sessions include panels and content showcases dedicated to Japanese anime, Japanese broadcasters, Korean TV content, and an introduction to the Tokyo Docs 2021 short documentary showcase, which runs online from November 1 to 15. .