At the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) Closing Ceremony on November 3, "Passage of Life," directed by Akio Fujimoto, won the Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center. The award was bestowed on a promising director in the TIFF Asian Future section, chosen by two jury members for its chances at international success beyond cultural and national borders. Fujimoto, a first-time feature film director, was joined on stage by the "family" who appeared in the film, all of whom were non-professional actors, and said, "I'm happy we were able to make this film in cooperation with Japan and Myanmar."
"Passage of Life" also won the Best Asian Future Film Award. The festival's most prestigious award, the Tokyo Grand Prix, was given to Semih Kaplanoglu for "Grain."
- The Japan Foundation Asia Center Presents CROSSCUT ASIA #04: What's Next from Southeast Asia
The Japan Foundation Asia Center's CROSSCUT ASIA series showcases Asian films with a focus on specific countries, directors and themes during the festival.
Following the first three editions, which featured Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, the fourth edition encompassed a larger area of Southeast Asia to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). During the festival, which ran from October 25 to November 3, CROSSCUT ASIA introduced 13 films from Southeast Asia, including nine feature films and four short films.
This year's CROSSCUT ASIA focused on the genealogy of Southeast Asian cinema as the maestros pass the baton to the next generation. It introduced such works as director HF Yambao's "Kristo" (2016), recommended by Brillante Ma Mendoza; Kirsten Tan's "Pop Aye" (2017), recommended by Eric Khoo; Wichanon Somumjarn's "In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire" (2012), recommended by Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and short films by young Cambodian directors recommended by Rithy Panh.
- Symposium: Seeking World Recognition from Southeast Asia, Rising Stars Challenging New Forms of Filmmaking"
On October 27, Kirsten Tan from "Pop Aye," B.W. Purba Negara from "Tales of the Otherwords," HF Yambao from "Kristo" and Brillante Ma Mendoza, who recommended "Kristo," appeared at the symposium with Kenji Ishizaka, Programming Director of CROSSCUT ASIA #04. Tan said that she struggled to manage many crew members and assistants for the animal. "The elephant is probably the best actor in my film because he's not acting, he's just doing his own thing," said Tan. Negara shared his experience of working with nonprofessional actors, including the 95-year-old star. "Sometimes she improvised and sometimes for too long, but it's okay because I work in documentaries." Yambao, who was mentored by Mendoza, worked with a very limited budget and shot the film in five days. "I decided not to stage anything, and just went to actual events that were featured in the film." Mendoza revealed his way of filmmaking, such as not providing scripts to actors in order to bring out fresh acting. As to new projects, Yambao is preparing a story about why he makes films, while Negara is working on a film about a traditional Indonesian art.
- The Japan Foundation Asia Center/ UNIJAPAN Seminar:
Learn from the Philippines! Promoting film locations: Lessons for Japan
A large number of world-famous masterpieces, such as "Apocalypse Now," have been shot in the Philippines. However, big-budget films related to Japan, such as "Silence" and "Ghost in the Shell," were not filmed in Japan. At the seminar on October 26, the representative of Film Development Council of the Philippines, Liza Dino-Seguerra, and Viva Communications licensing and acquisitions VP Tina B. Tubongbanua, director Hideo Nakata, Sapporo Film Commission representative Arifumi Sato and Asian Future Programming Director Kenji Ishizaka talked about why the Philippines became a favorite destination for foreign film productions and the possibilities for Japan.
"We aim to be a one-stop shop for foreign productions," Dino-Seguerra said. Low cost and accessibility are some of the reasons why the Philippines is popular for filming. According to Nakata, Japanese organizations, including local governments and security agencies, have strong regulations for international productions that make shooting difficult, and English unfamiliarity is also an issue. However, Sato said that Sapporo is becoming popular for Philippine and Asian film productions because of the friendly local film commission and beautiful locations. For example, "I See You" aka "Kita Kita" was a big Philippine indie hit following its July 2017 release.
The Japan Foundation Asia Center: http://jfac.jp/en/
Tokyo International Film Festival: http://2017.tiff-jp.net/en/
SOURCE: Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)