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The Tokyo International Film Festival, which plans to take place as an in-person event running from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8, will showcase the work of emerging Japanese director Keisuke Yoshida.
Yoshida will be the Director In Focus as part of the festival’s new Nippon Cinema Now section, which will include a gala selection of his films, ranging from his 2016 breakthrough feature Himeanole to the two titles he is releasing just this year, the well-received boxing drama Blue and his forthcoming drama thriller Intolerance, which opens in Japan on Sept. 23.
Tokyo’s Nippon Cinema Now section is an expanded program that will replace the former Japan Now section. In its new incarnation, the section aims to highlight exciting emerging Japanese filmmaking talents rather than more established names. Prior featured film talents in the section included globally known names like actor Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance, Babel, The Third Murder), actress Sakura Ando (Shoplifters) and acclaimed directors Koji Fukada and Shunji Iwai.
“Yoshida’s talent for depicting the madness of human relations between a diversity of characters, including a stalker, siblings, an international couple, boxers, a perpetrator and a victim, deserves to earn increased notice at film festivals in Japan and abroad,” the festival said in a statement.
Yoshida, 46, graduated from the Tokyo Visual Arts film school and worked as a lighting engineer on films by cult Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man). In 2006, he made his directorial debut with the youth drama Raw Summer, for which he was awarded the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival’s Grand Prix. He then published a novel and later adapted it as the quirky father-daughter comedy film Café Isobe (2008). His other films include Tsukue no nakami (2007), Sankaku (2010), The Workhorse & the Bigmouth (2013), My Little Sweet Pea (2013), Silver Spoon (2014), Himeanole (2016), Thicker Than Water (2018), Come on Irene (2018), Blue (2021) and Intolerance (2021).
The Tokyo festival’s team said Yoshida is precisely the sort of beneath-the-international-radar talent they aim to boost with their new programming orientation.
“The first Yoshida film I saw was Himeanole,” said Shozo Ichiyama, programming director of the Tokyo International Film Festival. “I was astonished by his talent as a director, and I went back and watched his earlier films. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t seen them. Yoshida’s ability to bring out such drama from ordinary people is something to behold. It is a great pleasure to highlight his work in 2021, a year in which he has released two masterpieces, Blue and Intolerance.”
Added Yoshida in a statement: “When I was working hard to be a film director, the Tokyo International Film Festival was where I went as an audience member. I never dreamed that my films would be screened there. I can say that my dream came true, can’t I? Even better, it’s as the director in focus. I’m elated and overwhelmed.”
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