New Docs Japan

It’s no exaggeration to say that 2006 was an historic year for Japanese documentaries. Of the 278 theatrically released Japanese films that year, a solid thirty-five were documentaries. Naturally, the box-office figures read nothing like those for Fahrenheit 9/11 (1.7 billion yen), but the healthy number of doc titles released on the big screen underscores a vibrancy in our industry that other countries would envy.

Among the films that contributed to 2006’s box-office success are: YIDFF 2005 premieres Dear Pyongyang (dir. Yang Yonghi) and The Cheese & The Worms (dir. Kato Haruyo); one of this year’s New Docs Japan films, The Ants (dir. Ikeya Kaoru); the widely popular Yokohama Mary (dir. Nakamura Takayuki); and the word-of-mouth long-run success Echoes from the Miike Mine (dir. Kumagai Hiroko).

In New Docs Japan this year, we present six new films which gain momentum from the growing Japanese audience and proudly take flight from Japan to the world.

In conjunction, Unijapan’s J-Pitch Office will host a series of lectures about the international co-production of Japanese documentaries, and the Tohoku Bureau of Economy, Trade, and Industry will present a symposium entitled, “The Future of Local Film Festivals—Possible Markets,” to discuss Japanese documentaries and the film industry, as well as the role of film festivals.

—Fujioka Asako