Talking about Japanese Docs
“The Future of Local Film Festivals—Possible Markets”

Various unique local film festivals take place across the northeastern region of Japan. Film festivals are important cultural events, as well as opportunities to support the training of professionals and form markets for film distribution—in short, they have the potential to contribute to the entertainment-content industry not only locally but also nationwide. This symposium invites the producers of Japan’s most intriguing new documentaries and film festival organizers from northeast Japan as panelists to discuss the junctions connecting the film industry and film festivals: what the film industry expects from film festivals and what film festivals aspire to. We look forward to your participation in the discussions. (No English translation will be provided for this symposium.)

When: Oct. 8 (Mon) 15:20–17:30
Venue: Forum 5
Admission: Free
Presented by: Tohoku Bureau of Economy, Trade, and Industry


- Ikeya Kaoru (Director / Producer, The Ants)

The Ants, a documentary about Japanese soldiers forced to stay behind in China after the end of World War II to fight in the Chinese civil war, became a record-breaking box office hit in a movie theater in Shibuya, Tokyo. A year after its release, it is still in high demand from cinema groups around the country. Acclaimed at international film festivals, it is beginning its theatrical release in Canada. Mr. Ikeya started his career producing TV documentaries for NHK, before turning to independently producing and distributing films for theatrical release. He will speak about the differences between TV and cinema documentary markets from first hand experience, and discuss the role of film festivals.

- Ise Shinichi (Producer, The Women the War Left Behind)

A prolific director of documentaries like Nao-chan, Loupe, and My Dear Friends: Eitetsu Hayashi, the Taiko Drummer, Mr. Ise is also an innovative producer of young directors’ documentaries, like Taimagura Grandma (dir. Sumikawa Yoshihiko), Meguru (dir. Ishii Kahori), Hana Hanme (dir. Kim Sung-woong), and Dear Old House (dir. Yamamoto Tatsuya). He has been program director of Osaka’s Abeno Human Documentary Film Festival since 2003. Most of his company’s films are released theatrically, and he will speak about his experiences in and the challenges of distribution, particularly outside of Tokyo, commenting on what producers find important in local film festivals.

- Yasuoka Takaharu (Producer, Ghada: Songs of Palestine)

As a teacher at the Japan Academy of Moving Images, he has been instrumental in bringing student documentaries like Annyong-Kimchi (dir. Matsue Tetsuaki) and Home (dir. Kobayashi Takahiro) to movie theaters, while as independent producer, he has made documentaries like A and its sequel A2 (dir. Mori Tatsuya), inside views on the Aum religious cult; Little Birds (dir. Watai Takeharu), a journalist’s portrayal of ordinary war-stricken Iraqi citizens that television doesn’t show; and Ghada (dir. Furui Mizue), a life portrait of a Palestinian woman. Mr. Yasuoka is well-informed about the world’s film festivals and will share a producer’s perspective on the role of film festivals as well as what he expects from YIDFF.

- Kawashima Daiji (Administrative Director, @ff Aomori Film Festival)

Born in Aomori. After working in advertising, film production, and television, he returned to Aomori in 1988. While running a newspaper sales office, he initiated various community events, taking Jomon culture, combat sports, cinema, and the Nebuta festival as Aomori Prefecture’s key themes. He was awarded the Mainichi Native Province Initiative Prize in 1991. Kawashima established the Aomori Film Festival in 1991, and in 2007 transformed it into a unique pan-prefectural network called the @ff Aomori Film Festival, with fifteen member groups including five local film commissions.

- Takahashi Takuya (Festival Director, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival)

Playing a central role as a volunteer staff member at the first YIDFF in 1989, he joined the staff in an official capacity in 2005. As of the spring of this year, with the transition of the festival office from a government entity to a non-profit organization, he is Festival Director of the YIDFF (NPO).

Moderator: Fujioka Asako (Coordinator)