Italian Fest Honors Japan's Shinya Tsukamoto

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ROME – The tenth edition of the Asian Film Festival in Reggio Emilia, which gets underway Friday, will feature a unique homage and a lifetime achievement award to Japanese auteur Shinya Tsukamoto, who will attend the festival for three days.

Tsukamoto, 52, who brings with him a cult following from Japan and elsewhere and is known for what festival organizers called “insight and courage,” will oversee the screening of his latest project, Kotoko, a drama about a single mother’s efforts to care for her infant child while suffering from double vision, which won the Venice Horizons Award last year.

The Reggio Emilia festival will also screen the cyberpunk classic Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, nominated for Venice’s Golden Lion in 2009, the amnesia thriller Vitalfrom 2004 and the psychological thriller A Snake of June, from 2002.

“Shinya Tsukamoto is a genius director who has had a great influence on contemporary cinema,” Asian Film Festival artistic director Antonio Termenini told The Hollywood Reporter. “It is the first time the Asian Film Festival will honor a Japanese director in this way, and it is a great honor to have him join us this year.” Tsukamoto burst onto the international film scene in 1989 with the release of the seminal body mod nightmare Tetsuo: The Iron Man, which had critics comparing the director to David Lynch and David Cronenberg. Tetsuo's focus on the dehumanizing effects of technology, industrialism and gender perceptions have since become hallmarks of the bulk of Tsukamoto's work.

Including the tribute and award for Tsukamoto, the festival will screen 39 films, mostly world, international, and European premieres. That includes the Tsukamoto homage, a 16-film main competition, a sidebar for emerging directors, and out-of-competition selections.

The festival will run through March 24.

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