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Updated Nov. 20 at 3:28 pm local Beijing time.
TOKYO – The 10th Filmex will open for its anniversary edition on November 21 with a symposium featuring “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Kiyoshi Kurosawa (“Tokyo Sonata”) and Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Air Doll”).
The festival will screen 61 films, up from 39 last year, the increase largely due to a Nippon Modern 1930s retrospective — presented with Shochiku — and a Korean Film Council showcase.
Opening less than a month after the Tokyo International Film Festival closes, and with around 80 festivals spread across Japan, Filmex has nevertheless carved itself out a niche, attracting around 12,000 people to its screenings.
“We do concentrate on independent films, but we also show big budget works too, if they have something to say. We only select films that bring something new to the screen – we’re not interested in déjà vu,” said festival director Kanako Hayashi.
Like its bigger cousin TIFF, the festival sees its role in getting overseas arthouse movies into theaters more important than ever given the current difficult climate for independent cinema in Japan. Hayashi points out that Hong Sang-soo’s film “Night and Day” got a distribution deal after it was shown at Filmex last year.
The Filmex competition will screen 10 films from emerging Asian filmmakers that will vie for a 1 million yen ($11,000) Grand Prix and an $8,000 Jury Prize. The jury is headed up by Yoichi Sai (“Kamui”) and also includes Lou Ye, whose “Spring Fever” won Best Screenplay at Cannes this year, and whose debut “Suzhou River” took the Grand Prix at the first Filmex.
The line-up features “No One Knows About Persian Cats” by Bahman Ghobadi, a dram about the Tehran underground music scene, that took the special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes.
The KOFIC showcase will be held this year as an official section of Filmex. Designed to promote the diversity of Korean films to Japanese audiences it will feature commercial fare such as “Good Morning President” to art house films including international film festival hit “Daytime Drinking.”
Despite the tough times, Filmex has managed to hold on to its sponsors and funding, and in some ways things are getting easier according to Hayashi. “When we started it used to be difficult to get companies to even send a videotape to us in Tokyo, now they call us up and offer us movies before we even ask for them.”
Filmex runs from November 21 to 29 at venues centered around Yurakucho Station.
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