Tokyo Film Fest Asian Section Head Sees Diversity of Smaller Movies as Reaction to Blockbusters

Courtesy of Tokyo International Film Festival
'Alifu, the Prince/ss'

"We like to feature and shed a light on these films," says Kenji Ishizaka.

The 30th Tokyo International Film Festival's Asian Future section is featuring a diverse lineup of smaller movies, many of which can to some degree be seen as a "resistance" of sorts to big Hollywood blockbusters, said Kenji Ishizaka, programming director of the section.

"There are many smaller-scale films, independent films, low-budget films, whatever you call them. It’s become so diverse," including in terms of filming techniques, he said Friday when asked how the films submitted and selected differ from the past.

"And I think this diversity is in a way sort of a counter reaction to the Hollywood or big-budget blockbuster," Ishizaka told reporters, calling it "this sort of resistance." Concluded the programmer: "As a film festival, we like to feature and shed a light on these films."

Among the films in the section this year are Wang Yu-lin's youth drama Alifu, the Prince/ss, about the heir of an aboriginal leader who wants to be is a woman; Arnel Arbi Barbarona's The Right to Kill, about a hunting-fishing family in the jungle on Mindanao whose peaceful life ends when the army arrives in search of guerrillas; and romantic family-themed musical The Portrait by Loy Arcenas.

“You see films featuring indigenous people’s lives, LGBT [characters] and some films are very slow in tempo," Ishizaka said. "These are quite prominent trends you can see in our program."

How about the number of movies in the section directed by women? “We actually have fewer female directors," he said, but added that more women have in recent years won the Asian Future award.