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CANNES: Japan Day Highlights Past and Present Cinema Achievements

Umimachi Diary

Japan is to give its film industry a major push at Cannes this week with a conference series. Japan has also taken a pavilion in the Cannes Village for the first time since 2010.

The three day seminar series (May 16-18) will cover topics including sourcing talent between Japan and Hollywood; new models for successfully structuring Japanese co-productions; and how to tap into Japan’s massive Manga and gaming industries with a view to establishing global film franchises.

The series culminates with ‘Japan Day’ on Monday (May 18) and the ‘Power Players Panel Discussion. It will feature CEOs and top executives from Japan’s largest film companies, presenting their latest projects and vision for tackling the international marketplace.

Speakers in the earlier sessions include: France’s Samuel Hadida (“Resident Evil,” “Silent Hill”) and Tetsu Fujimura, producer of the upcoming manga adaptation “Ghost in the Shell,” starring Scarlett Johansson; and director Yoko Narahashi, responsible for the discovery of Ken Watanabe and Rinko Kikuchi.

The Japan Day Project is a creative initiative supported by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan.

The moves come in a year when Japan has a prominent presence in the Cannes festival. In competition is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister, “An” by Naomi Kawase, and “Journey to the Shore,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa both in Un Certain Regard, and “Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld” by Takashi Miike getting its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight. Cannes Classics also finds screening time for Mizoguchi Kenji’s The Story Of The Last Chrysanthemums, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran and Fukasaku Kinji’s Battles Without Honor and Humanity.

Separately, the Tokyo International Film Festival (October 22-31, 2015) announced that it will hold two special screenings of works by Shuji Terayama —multi talented poet, director of stage and screen, and leader of Japan’s underground cultural scene in the 1960s — and works by Orson Welles. Terayama-directed titles to be screened include former Cannes competition title “Pastoral: To Die in the Country” (aka “Den’en Ni Shisu”) (1974), and “Grass Labyrinth” (1978). The Orson Welles Retrospective celebrates a century since the birth of the director and will be co-hosted by the National Film Center, Motion Picture Association, Japan, and the International Motion Pictures Copyright Association.