Perspectives from the Nara International Film Festival (Part 2)


Naomi Kawase's vision of the future from Nara and Japan

The Nara International Film Festival, which started in Nara in 2010, is now in its 11th year, and was held from September 9th to 18th this year. Over the past 20 years, there have been events that have shaken not only Japan but the world, such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and the spread of the new coronavirus infection, but the ``Nara International Film Festival'' has continued without interruption for 11 years.


Naomi Kawase, executive director of the film festival, is enthusiastic, saying, ``We want to make it a film festival that will last for 1300 years, just like Nara, which has a history of XNUMX years.'' However, it is important not only to continue, but to evolve every year. I believe. What is necessary for the "Nara International Film Festival" to firmly take root in Nara, Japan, and the world, thicken its trunk, and spread its branches? In the second part, she shared her vision for the future.

Aiming to be a film festival that is responsible for discovering and nurturing the youth generation


In 2021, the name of the pre-event that has been held so far will be changed and will be held as "Nara International Film Festival for Youth 2021." Kawase has been thinking about the need to create a system for discovering and nurturing the talent of the youth generation who will lead the next generation, ever since he started this film festival. Where did this idea come from?


“I was inspired by the Berlin International Film Festival Generation Division.The Generation Division, in which children judge films that have children as protagonists or subjects, has existed since 1978. Since 2007, Generation Kplus is for ages 4 and up and 11 children serve as judges, while Generation 14Plus is for ages 14 and above and seven children serve as judges to select the best work. ”.


``The Nara International Film Festival has adopted a system in which children can develop their ability to watch movies as jurors, but there is one other thing that caught my attention. This means that they are an operational force in the festival's secretariat. Teenagers are the mainstay of the festival's operations, creating specialized theaters to screen films at the festival."


Kawase realized that film festivals are not just temporary festivals, but are firmly rooted in the local community and are supported by many local people across generations. We believe that in order to develop the human resources who will be responsible for the film industry in the future, we need a system that takes the time to nurture them from childhood, and we are holding activities centered around the youth generation at the Nara International Film Festival. It is being adopted.

A strong message that once you discover talent, keep looking for it


Kawase also believes that film festivals need to have the function of taking a long-term view and responsibly nurturing the talent they discover. Kawase himself won the New Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 for ``Moe no Suzaku,'' and subsequently won the Grand Prix in 2007 for ``Mourning Forest.'' In 2011, ``Shuka no Tsuki'' was officially invited to the competition section, and in 2017, ``Hikari'' won the Ecumenical Jury Prize, and in 2013, he was a member of the jury for the full-length competition section competing for the Palme d'Or. selected.


``When I won the New Director Award, I received a message saying, ``I will continue to watch over Naomi,'' and I truly feel that they are continuing to watch over Naomi's growth. That's certainly a big part of my ability to make movies."



The Nara International Film Festival also evaluates and discovers the works of young directors from around the world, and has created a system called the NARAtive project, which provides funds to directors who receive high praise to produce films set in Nara. A young director is praised at the Nara International Film Festival, and when the director returns to Nara and makes a film set in their region, the local people will continue to watch the director's growth. Become.


``I am passionate about growing the Nara International Film Festival into a film festival with a history of 1300 years, just like Nara.My staff and I are proud of the fact that we have been able to continue the 11th edition without interruption. I think so.”

The director's greeting on the final day of "Nara International Film Festival for Youth 2021" was streamed on YouTube.




Importance of public relations activities
To Japan, to the world. Gain competitiveness by getting people to know about you


However, there are many things that must be done from now on. Among them, he has some thoughts about public relations activities.


``Everyone who came to the film festival gave us high praise, saying, ``It was very good,'' and ``It's a very high-quality film festival,'' and I'm glad that there are many repeat visitors. However, it is difficult to say that the greatness of this film festival is widely known throughout Japan and around the world. I'm trying to make this film festival deeper rather than wider. I want to create a film festival that deeply moves people and allows people to think deeply. To achieve this, it is important to have a diverse range of people participate in film festivals and to reflect diverse perspectives. By making the Nara International Film Festival known to the general public, not just a select group of movie buffs, we are sure that the festival will become more diverse and deep." For Kawase, communicating the activities of the Nara International Film Festival to Japan and the world through words is an urgent task.



Kawase has another concern. That is the current state of Japanese cinema. For Kawase, who wants to make the Nara International Film Festival comparable to the world's three major international film festivals recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers: Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Berlin International Film Festival. To achieve this, the Japanese film industry must become more active and produce works that have global buzz and influence. However, for now, the reality is that Japan's cultural dissemination ability, not only in the world but also in Asia, lags behind China and South Korea.



"Recently, very few Japanese films with original scripts have been produced. I'm not saying there aren't any, but there are very few. Most of the films are based on hit manga or novels. Now, more and more people are watching movies on their TVs, PCs, or smartphones at home. Personally, I would like them to watch movies in theaters, but I don't think I can resist streaming them anymore. The feedback on distribution has been great.I don't think that watching movies in theaters will completely disappear, but distribution will become mainstream. I am certain that the time has come for me, as a filmmaker, to seriously think about what kind of movie I want to make.''

Creating the future from Nara
I will raise my voice for that purpose.


It's not just the content of the movie. Kawase points out that we must appeal not only to the industry but also to politics and government for improvements in the production and distribution systems.


“As the official film director of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I recorded the games that were held one year late, and I am also involved in the 1 World Expo (Expo) to be held in Osaka as a theme project producer and senior advisor.Tokyo Although I spend a lot of time working and living in big cities such as Osaka and Osaka, Nara is not only my hometown, but also a special place for me. Nara is a place where you can feel the invisible. Modern people rely heavily on visuals, but when you're in Nara, you hear the sound of the wind, the voices of birds and insects, and your senses other than sight become sharper. When your senses are sharpened, you can discover things that cannot be seen. You can discover the invisible by looking at yourself."


Nara has a history of 1300 years, and the scenery and atmosphere described in the Manyoshu remain. You can feel that the long time since ancient times is connected to the present, and from there to the future.

``Time passes differently in Nara.The sun sets, darkness falls, and the moon rises.The night slowly falls, and the sun comes out.There are about two hours each night between night and morning. When you're in Nara, you can feel that you have free time even when it's not even morning.The breadth of time and space is wide.Nara is a city where you can deeply understand yourself and transcend time and space. As a filmmaker, I will continue to create works centered around Nara, and as the executive director of the Nara International Film Festival, I will continue to spread the power of film from Nara to the world.


What lies ahead may be a difficult road. However, from this beautiful ancient capital of Nara, Kawase continues to spread the word. There was a sense of pride in passing on the feelings of those who were discovered to the next generation.



(Titles omitted)

Naomi Kawase

He continues to create films based in Nara, where he was born and raised. She has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world, including the Cannes Film Festival. While expanding her field of expression around the world, she started the Nara International Film Festival in 2010 in her hometown of Nara, and is also focusing on nurturing the next generation. A major Naomi Kawase exhibition was held at Center Pompidou in Paris from 2018 to 2019. She has been appointed as the official film director for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In 2025, she will serve as a theme project producer and senior advisor for the Osaka/Kansai Expo, and will also serve as the president of the Japan Women's Basketball League. In November 2021, she was appointed as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In addition to directing movies, she continues to pursue her creative activities regardless of genre, including directing commercials and writing essays.In her private life, she is a mother of one child who grows vegetables and rice.



Text by Motoko Jitsukawa
Hair & Makeup Yoko Kizu
Photography by Ayumi Okubo (amana)

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