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Naomi Kawase to Direct 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Film

Naomi Kawase Cannes
Angela Pham/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Japanese auteur, Naomi Kawase has been selected to direct the official film of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She won the contest with a proposal that demonstrated a “nuanced understanding of Japanese culture and Olympic values.”

Kawase is a regular at the Cannes film festival. Her works include “Sweet Bean,” “Suzaku,” and “Still The Water.”

The director of the official film must bring a unique editorial angle, and aim to capture the soul of a specific edition of the Olympics, while also considering the broader social and cultural context, the International Olympic Committee said. Kawase’s bid was chosen by Japanese film experts, international film experts, and the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage which advised the committee.

Previous directors of the official film include Milos Forman, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, and Carlos Saura. She is the fifth woman to direct the official film, following Caroline Rowland (London 2012), Gu Jun (Beijing 2008), Mai Zetterling (for one of the segments of the film Munich 1972), and Leni Riefenstahl (Berlin 1936).

“Kawase’s passion for topics linking sport, culture and society and the unique perspective she brings as one of her country’s leading female voices in filmmaking make her an ideal collaborator for this film,” said director of the Olympic foundation for culture and heritage, Francis Gabet.

“I now feel that the ‘god of film’ that came to me one day has given me the chance to record this wonderful celebration of sport that connects people, and to leave a legacy for generations to come,” said Kawase in a statement. “I hope to capture ‘time’ and take full advantage of the appeal of documentary films and their ability to freeze those moments into ‘eternity,’ allowing the significance of the Tokyo 2020 Games to be communicated worldwide.”