Naomi Kawase to Direct Official Film for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Kumie
Naomi Kawase

The festival favorite will follow in the footsteps of Kon Ichikawa, who created the classic 'Tokyo Olympiad' for the 1964 Games.

Japanese auteur Naomi Kawase will direct the official film of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage announced Tuesday.

An official film is created for every Games and the decision to give the role to Kawase was made by consultation with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Japanese and international film experts and the foundation.

"The Olympic Games have a long and glorious history, and with the international sports event returning to Tokyo after 56 years, I’m thinking about the role bestowed on me. I now feel that the 'god of film' that came to me one day has given me the chance to record this wonderful celebration of sport that connects people, and to leave a legacy for generations to come," said Kawase.

"Ms Kawase's passion for topics linking sport, culture and society and the unique perspective she brings as one of her country's leading female voices in filmmaking make her an ideal collaborator for this film," said Francis Gabet, director of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.

Kawase, who became the youngest winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes with Suzaku in 1997, has found more acclaim in Europe than her home country for much of her career. Her 2015 film Sweet Bean (An) was screened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes that year and became her biggest domestic box-office success, taking in just over $2.5 million. The film starred the late Kiki Kirin, who won best actress at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

In 1964, when the Japanese capital last hosted the Olympics, the official film was directed by Kon Ichikawa, who was brought in after first choice Akira Kurosawa was fired after demanding to direct the opening and closing ceremonies.

Ichikawa's film Tokyo Olympiad was reported to have infuriated Japanese authorities with its artistic aesthetic and lack of focus on Japanese achievements and gold medal glory. The 170-minute film was edited down to 93 minutes, but the original is now viewed, along with Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia about the 1936 Games in Berlin, as one of the best Olympics films.