KYOTO – Kyoto is to celebrate its rank as Japan’s cultural capital with the launch of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival, scheduled for September 2014.
The event is actually a relaunch of the Kyoto Film Festival, which was held every two years from 1997 to 2012.
The big difference this time is that the revived fest has the backing of Yoshimoto Kogyo, an Osaka-based talent agency that is a huge presence on Japanese TV. Yoshimoto is also the sponsor of the Okinawa International Movie Festival, whose 5th edition unspooled March 23-30 in Okinawa.
Like Okinawa, which features Yoshimoto comics on stage, the Kyoto fest will range far beyond films, or, as its new slogan states: “Movies, Art and Everything Else.”
Yoshimoto is partnered with CAA to make pilot game shows for the international market and with Second City to introduce SC-style improv comedy to Japanese auds. It also has an LA-based affiliate, Bellrock Media, that produces and distributes content for broadband and mobile media.
A Monday press launch in Kyoto, which featured Yoshimoto chairman Isao Yoshino, as well as famous film folk and Yoshimoto talent, was short on specifics. But Yoshimoto staffers indicated that the fest will have more of an “arts” flavor than its Okinawan cousin, including the traditional arts of Kyoto.
Okinawa fest executive director Kazuyoshi Okuyama, who is expected to play a similar organizational role for the Kyoto event, said that “Kyoto is a stronghold of real talent and can also attract various talent from abroad.” The exact mix of films, as well as their numbers, remains to be decided.
A center of Imperial and religious power from the 8th century, as well as a focal point of traditional Japanese arts and crafts, Kyoto ceded its position as Japan’s capital to Tokyo nearly 150 years ago. In the 20th century, however, it became a filmmaking center, with period dramas a signature genre.