Having their biggest form of movie festival around Asia with ‘Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)’, many people outside Japan didn’t know that the birthplace of Japanese films was actually in Kyoto, where the very first screening of their movie took place. Many movies including historical plays and jidai-geki, period samurai drama, have been produced at film studios in Kyoto up until now. The beautiful – traditional city has also been playing a key role in the Japanese movie for a long time.

            Backing up by Yoshimoto Kogyo, the Osaka-based entertainment giant of Japan’s biggest TV and movie talents, following their part in the recent ‘Okinawa International Movie Festival’ and chaired by Sadao Nakajima, 80, Japanese film director, this year marks the relaunch of the ‘Kyoto Film Festival’, which was held every two years from 1997 to 2012.  Being freshly revived as the ‘Kyoto International Film and Art Festival’ (KIFF), this first international edition of the festival aim to create a new environment in international reputation and bring back the existence of Kyoto as one of the base in their movie industry.

            And not only movies, that welcomed more than 40 films from new to classics, a special art exhibition that will introduce world-class traditional arts and crafts of Kyoto, once a central of Japanese empire in the 8th century, are also scheduled to be held at various venues around the prefecture incl. the former Rissei Elementary School. In the hope to preserve the cultural inheritance in these different forms of art altogether, the concept of connecting the past with the future as an important lesson to step forward, also has the other main purpose in discovering new and promising talents as global filmmakers.

The Awards

            As Mr. Kazuyoshi Okuyama, the executive producer of the festival said, instead of having a competitions category among selected new films, the festival aim more to finding their new talents through the Creator’s Factory category, an open competition for creators in a variety of genres, both movies and art. The main award itself known as the ‘Shizuku no Utsuwa’ trophy, which will be presented for the ‘Shozo Makino Award’ from the preceding festivals, newly established ‘Toshiro Mifune Award’ and the ‘Most Respected Awards’.

            Created by Takahiro Kondo, potter and art writer using his original ‘gintekisai (silver mist glaze)’ technique, Shizuku (droplets) are the symbol of circulation, purification and regeneration. While Utsuwa, means empty vessel, hovers between reality and fiction, represents a substitute which a soul drawn to. As ever, the trophy represents a hope that the festival will always develop and held continously. Along with the ‘Shizuku no Utsuwa’, the winners will also be presented with a stole designed by Michail Gkinis, fashion designer and a master craftsman from Greece.

            Choose by the small numbers of committee members with council/collegial system, the ‘Shozo Makino Award’, named in memory of Kyoto filmmaker with the same name known as the father of Japanese Cinema, will be given to filmmakers who have contributed to the development of Japanese films, while ‘Toshiro Mifune Award’, in the purpose to encourage the emergence of great world class-actors like himself, will be given to actors who achieved global success in representing Japanese film industry.

            Also newly established, the ‘Most Respected Filmmaker Awards’, awards  to honor and pay tribute to world-renowned actors or directors, will be given to Clint Eastwood, and the sub-category ‘Most Respected Filmmaker from Paris’ based on a friendship treaty between two cities, will be given to actress Iréne Jacob. Along with this commemoration, the festival will screen 4 Eastwood movies (‘Dirty Harry’, ‘The Unforgiven’, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ and ‘Gran Torino’) and 2 significant title in Iréne Jacob’s acting history, both directed by Krzystof Kiezlowski :  ‘The Double Life of Veronique’ (France, Poland, 1991) and ‘Three Colors : Red’ (France, Switzerland, 1994)

The Programs

The Opening Film

            For the opening film, the festival has ‘At Home’ (2015) in its world premiere. Directed by Hiroshi Chono, this black comedy about dysfunctional family was based on the novel by Takasyoshi Honda and starred Yasuko Matsuyuki with the actor from Chono’s recent film, ‘Oba : The Last Samurai’, Yutaka Takenouchi.


Special Screenings

            The Special Screenings section consists of three sub-category. First, the theatrically unreleased Japanese movies, such as ‘Twilight Sasara Saya’ (2014, Yoshihiro Fukagawa), ‘Fuku-Chan of Fukufuku Flats’ (2014, Yosuke Fujita), ‘Bay Blues : 25 Years and 364 Days’ (2014, Tomohiro Takayama), and  ‘[Harajuku Cinema]’ (2014, Masashi Omino).

            Then, to explore the origins of world’s comedy films, the section ‘Silent Comedy Film Features’ combined the works of Japan’s God of comedy, Torajiro Saito (‘Modern Horror 100.000.000 Yen’, ‘Dynamite Bride’ and ‘Kid Commotion’), the roots of Japanese anime (‘Toy Films Special’ ; silent films from the Taisho to Showa periods using toy movie projectors at those times) to Buster Keaton and Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckles. Three of the Fatty – Keaton films to be screened is ‘The Butcher Boy’, ‘The Garage’ and ‘The Cook’.

            The last category for Special Screenings section, named ‘Kyoto Films’ are various films that made by Kyoto-based directors, particularly depicting Japan and Kyoto beyond shows of culture in each selected movies. The movies are ‘The Human’ (2014, Japan/Turkey, Cagla Zencirci & Guiilaume Giovanetti), ‘Early Spring, Kyoto’ (2014, Hiroshi Toda), and the classic Daimajin in the special program ‘The Daimajin Series Screening Feature’.

          Widely known as Japanese classic monster movie that was produced in Daiei Studio – Kyoto, the Golem-inspired ‘Daimajin’ (Kimiyoshi Yasuda, dir.) also became a great astonishment on the use of special effects in an historical play. Besides the screening of the original 1966 film in Yoshimoto Kion Kagetsu, a vintage theatre now used as a comedy theatre, the giant statue of Daimajin featuring Kenji Yakobe’s ‘Giant Torayan’ (giant breathing robot baby) will be exhibited in Kyoto City Hall along with the live perfomances.


TV Director’s Movie

            Following the section in Okinawa International Film Festival (OIMF), Yoshimoto also screen their joint-produced TV movie in the TV Director’s Movie section. The films are ‘Love Session’ (Eiji Itaya, dir.), ‘Furiko’ (Norihiro Takenaga, dir.), ‘Slight Fever of 100 – Island Breeze of Love’ (Koichi Okamoto, dir.), ‘Pirameki’s Children Love Story’ (Yu Ota, dir.), and ‘NBM48 Geinin! The Movie Returns’ (Hidemi Uchida, dir.)

Creator’s Factory

            Also from the OIMF, this section is one of the most important goal for Yoshimoto to find their new talents. By showing an award winning Shiki Asaka’s novel adaptation, ‘Kyoto Elegy’, directing debut from actress – producer Kiki Sugino, the winner of 2013 OIMF’s Creator’s Factory, which co-produced by Yoshimoto, in the movie’s full premiere, they clearly stated the support will continue through the upcoming festivals.


            As the members of jury in the Creator’s Factory, there are Kaizo Hayashi (director), Yoko Tsukamoto (art producer), Michail Gkinis (artist), Yukihiro Hirose (head of Kyoto Indie Film Festival) and Ujicha – Leo Anzai (director –producer of ‘The Burning Buddha Man’) in the art section. The festival also established the ‘Children’s Section’ in this art category, which the winners will not only be awarded with special prizes, but also got big supports from Yoshimoto.

Other Classics

            Along with other classic lineups, this first international edition of the festival will also screened two Toshiro Mifune films ‘Rashomon’ (1950, Akira Kurosawa) and ‘Furin Kazan (Samurai Banner)’ (1969, Hiroshi Inagaki), and as well, two Yuya Uchida and three Hiroshi Shinagawa films. In these special sections, ‘Yuya Uchida Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie 2 Days’ will screen ‘The Mosquito in the Tenth Floor’ (1983, Yoichi Sai) & ‘We Don’t Need Comic Books!’ (1986, Yojiro Takita), while ‘All About Shinagawa Cinema’ is more to a retrospective to Shinagawa’s wild vision in ‘DROP’ (2008), ‘Manzai Gang’ (2011)  and ‘One Third’ (2014).


~ by danieldokter on October 20, 2014.


  1. […] KYOTO ELEGY (2014, Japan, Kiki Sugino) […]

  2. […] KYOTO ELEGY (2014, Japan, Kiki Sugino) […]

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