Filmex reps Japan’s fest alternative

Event a gateway to world's other sprocket operas

TOKYO — Tokyo FilmeX, which kicked off its sixth edition Nov. 19, may not have the huge number of screenings or the $250,000 prize money of the Tokyo Intl. Film Fest, but its more astute programming and deep connections with the worldwide filmmaking community make FilmeX an important destination for industry insiders.

“We get festival directors from Cannes, Berlin, Pusan, Hong Kong and more looking here for new work from Japan and Asia to put in their fests,” says festival director Kanako Hayashi. “We’re more of a gateway to the rest of the world than TIFF. Our final goal is not FilmeX itself but to introduce films to other fests throughout the world.”

This year, respected Taiwanese helmer Hou Hsiao-hsien (fresh from collecting his $100,000 Kurosawa Lifetime Achievement Award at TIFF), opens FilmeX with his pic “Three Times.” Pic compiles three love stories set in different eras and places.

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The competition section, offering a 1,000,000 yen ($8,400) grand prize, sees work from directors like Ning Ying from China, Wilson Yip from Hong Kong, Song Il-gon from Korea and Masahiro Kobayashi from Japan.

Kobayashi’s “Bashing” is based on the experience of a Japanese man who faces a bitter reception at home after being held hostage in the Middle East. The pic, starring Fusako Urabe, screened to a warm reception at this year’s Cannes fest.

Hayashi stressed the international theme of the Special Screenings and Swiss Treasures sections — many selections are international co-productions, and some are made by directors working outside of their native lands.

“This borderless aspect of film is becoming increasingly important,” says Hayashi, who notes feature work in the Special Screenings by Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf shooting in Tajikistan, German Fred Kelemen shooting in Latvia and Iranian Amir Naderi working in the U.S., where he now lives.

The Swiss Treasures section, focusing on the golden age of Swiss cinema from the 1920s to 1940s, offers work by filmmakers from Russia and other European countries who made Switzerland their base.

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