Japan’s leading short film festival, The Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, is to rename its top prize in honor of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas. The festival, which celebrates its 20th iteration this year, announced the move Monday to mark the director’s 74th birthday.
The winner of the George Lucas Award, selected from about 10,000 entries from more than 130 countries, will be announced at the festival’s awards ceremony June 17.
“Thinking back on the beginnings of this fantastic film festival, my short film acted as an invitation to my first steps as a filmmaker,” said Lucas in a message to festival founder and director Tetsuya Bessho. “For this memorable occasion, I would like to send my hearty cheers to the filmmakers of the next generation who have started in short films like me and introduce the newly named SSFF & Asia Grand-Prix as the George Lucas Award!”
Lucas’ 1967 short film “Electric Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB,” which he made while at the University of Southern California’s film school and which would form the basis for his feature debut, “THX 1138,” screened at the first ever SSFF & Asia and will once again feature in this year’s anniversary lineup. Lucas attended the reception of the first festival at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in 1999 while in Japan to promote “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.”
The Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia is one of the region’s largest international short film festivals and a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards. The 2018 edition runs June 4-24.