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Tokyo: Programmer Shozo Ichiyama on how to build a festival bridge between Japan and the global film world

In his second year as program director, industry veteran Masao Ichiyama believes he is one step closer to realizing his vision for the Tokyo International Film Festival.

with Jia Zhangke of China , Japan 2023 Takeshi Kitano Producer known for collaborating with Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ichiyama is working hard to make TIFF a gateway to the Japanese and global film world, raising the level of content shown.

Ichiyama’s joy at the return of this overseas guest is obvious. He said he was particularly encouraged by so many people preparing to travel to Tokyo at their own expense for the festival.

Another positive for Ichiyama and the festival this time on the domestic side is the increase in the number of Japanese films in all major sections this year.

“Last year, we couldn’t find Japanese movies to come to the party. We had some good indie Japanese movies, but the production of big companies wasn’t as active, and they delayed due to the pandemic situation Some movie releases,” Ichiyama explained. “Some people thought last year’s festival didn’t select films from the major [Japanese] studios, but that’s not the case; we asked them, and there wasn’t at all.”

He also pointed out that TIFF this year Received a large number of submissions from the Middle East, but fewer high-quality films from the Southeast 2023 Asia , and hardly any titles from Japan’s giant neighbor .

“We only have one Chinese film, in the future part of Asia. I heard that many films are struggling to get the approval of the (Chinese) censorship board because it doesn’t have a meeting. European films The festival has a similar situation, they rarely show films from China. I hope we will have a lot of good Chinese films next year,” he said.

is now ultimately in charge of the entire festival’s programming, unlike in years past when the lineup for each segment was chosen independently. Therefore, any criticism of the selection should be sent to him, he said with a smile.

“Many of the films I have selected dealt with social or political issues. This does not mean that I intend to choose such a film, but after I went through the selection process, I noticed that many themed films and so on. I think a lot of filmmakers are dealing with these issues now,” he believes.

Ichiyama has worked at Filmex in Tokyo for 21 years and the two festivals have been working closely together ever since he traveled across town to TIFF. However, after disbanding at the same time last year, Ichiyama said that some fans complained about too many screenings, so Filmex will open in October , five days after TIFF opens.

In terms of forging more connections with the global industry, he pointed to the positioning of TIFF Lounge – the venue for the Asian Lounge series and other talk events – at a company called Micro, close to Yurakucho Station and many venues.

“We hold talks there every day, and we want it to be a place where people can meet and then go out to eat,” Ichiyama said. “It is very important for a film festival to have such a space.”

Another part of the move to establish cross-border exchanges is to invite Japanese directors who do not have film screenings, including Fukada Koji, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, and Hirokazu Kazueda gave speeches and participated in events.

With the return of the TIFFCOM content market next year, and with the expectation that air travel costs may return to more affordable levels, Ichiyama hopes that more people will be in 2023 Travel to Tokyo.



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