TOKYO — Yoshimoto Kogyo, a major Japanese talent shop with a wide range of media interests, has launched a film production and distribution arm.
Called KATSU-do, a reference to the original Japanese term for films, “katsudo shashin” (moving pictures), the new company will be headed by Kazuyoshi Okuyama, veteran producer and recently appointed executive director of the Yoshimoto-backed Kyoto Intl. Film and Art Festival, which will unspool Oct. 16-19 in Japan’s ancient capital.
Other than Okuyama’s appointment, the launch announcement was short on details. In a statement, however, Okuyama waxed eloquent on what he considers the new company’s mission: “Does a god of movies exist?” he asked. “Yes, he definitely does. Backed by that belief, KATSU-do will continue to make films. It doesn’t matter if they’re digital or analog. As long as we devote body and soul to making the screen come alive and have the will to go against the prevailing current, the god of movies will smile on us.”
Okuyama also served as executive director for the past two editions of the Okinawa Intl. Movie Festival, which Yoshimoto has sponsored since its start in 2009. In its six editions to date the fest has screened many Yoshimoto-backed pics, from features to shorts, with Yoshimoto talent both starring and directing.
The aim of these projects is often less to produce commercial hits than to give agency talents, most of whom are TV funnymen (and women), filmmaking training and exposure. Among the most prominent is Hitoshi Matsumoto, a comedian-director whose pics, including the 2013 comedy “R100,” have been widely released in Japan and screened at fests abroad.
KATSU-do is another step in Yoshimoto’s ongoing strategy to broaden beyond its base in network TV, whose audience is steadily shrinking, into other media areas.