A press conference was held to highlight the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)’s Japan Now section, followed by a screening of internationally acclaimed creator Shunji IWAI’s latest film, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) this evening, on October 4.
This year’s Japan Now Director in Focus, Shunji Iwai, whose groundbreaking style and youth-focused vision have been internationally hailed in his masterworks, was welcomed as a special guest at the press conference. He will also appear for Q&A sessions during TIFF.
Notes and Quotes from the Press Conference
Yasushi Shiina, Director General, Tokyo International Film Festival
This year, TIFF will be showing the past, present, and future in films. The Japan Now Section features present Japan. And this year, in our new Youth Section, we will focus on films that portray children and teens, so that represents the future. We hope to bring in younger audiences, as they will be the generation to carry on the future of cinema. So, while the Youth Section looks to the future, the Japanese Classics Section revisits the history of Japanese cinema.
Kohei Ando, Japan Now Programming Advisor
Q: How did you select the films for the Director in Focus?
A: It was so hard to narrow the selection down to just a few films, because Mr. Iwai has made so many wonderful pieces. Fireworks, Should We See it from the Side or the Bottom? was his first work that brought my attention to his name, Love Letter was an unbelievable feat for a first feature, Swallowtail Butterfly and Vampire are infused with his distinct aesthetics, and he has topped himself with A Bride for Rip Van Winkle.
Q: When selecting the films for the Japan Now Section, is it your main criteria that they have international appeal?
A: I just want to show good films. Now, a “good” film is difficult to define, so my own personal taste also goes into the selection. But I try to choose films that reflect Japan as it is today.
Shunji Iwai, Director
Q: Do you have any plans for a co-production with China in the future?
A: I actually have produced and served as advisor for a couple of films with China. China is a rapidly expanding market, but as a director with a certain style, I welcome it. If the market opens up and expands, hopefully, there will be a trickle-down effect where the larger market can make more room for art films as well.
Q: Any plans to venture into the Russian market?
A: I think the Russians make quality films. They have this Dostoyevskian scale to them. I understand that the Russian people love a long story, so if the opportunity were ever to arrive, I would be more than happy to do something. Perhaps I could follow in the footsteps of Kurosawa, like when he did Dersu Uzala.
Q: Do you have plans to continue directing animation films?
A: I take my own personal approach to creating animated work. I have a team with me, and we produce music clips as well. I also like to draw, so working on animation brings me that joy. Greedy as it may sound, I would like continue to create both live action and animated work. The Case of Hana and Alice was shown in Europe this year, so in Europe I believe people see me as more of an animation director.
Q: Is there any significance for you as a director to having your films shown at festivals, as opposed to having them released commercially?
A: It is a good opportunity for me as a director to lay back and enjoy my films together with the fans and critics. There’s unbelievable pressure that comes with commercial releases, so festivals are a place where I can relax more.
The full lineup of Japan Now section