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Japan’s Film Studios Make The Virtual TIFFCOM Their New Sales Home

Under The Open Sky
2021 Under the Open Sky” Production Committee

TIFFCOM, the market that runs concurrently with the Tokyo International Film Festival, is completely online this year, with 73 films screening for buyers Nov. 4-6. (The festival runs Oct. 31 to Nov. 7.)

But the Japanese companies are quite at home in the new online environment. They are also pitching plenty of new product that is not on the screening schedule, including new titles that have begun to earn.

Leading the Shochiku slate is “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish,” a Tamura Kotaro animation based on a story by Tanabe Seiko about a feisty disabled woman who finds love with an abled-bodied college student.

The story was first made into a 2003 live-action film that was a critical and commercial success. The animation had its world premiere last week at the Busan festival.

Also new to the Shochiku lineup is “Sakura,” a family drama directed by acclaimed indie veteran Yazaki Hitoshi. Fasting-rising young actors Kitamura Takumi, Komatsu Nana and Yoshizawa Ryo star as a trio of siblings who encounter a tragedy that changes their lives.

Meanwhile, Gaga is selling “Your Eyes Tell,” a relationship drama directed by veteran hitmaker Miki Takahiro. Starring Ryusei Yokohama as a lonely ex-kickboxer and Yuriko Yoshitaka as a blind woman who brings light into his life, the film opened strongly at the Japanese box office on Oct. 23. Attracting 132,000 admissions in its first weekend, the film grabbed the number two box office slot, behind the megahit animation “Demon Slayer.”

Another Gaga film is “Under the Open Sky,” a drama by Nishikawa Miwa based on Saki Ryuzo’s novel about an ex-con who tries to reconnect with his long-separated mother through a TV show. The film premiered at Venice, Yakusho Koji, playing the troubled hero, won a Silver Hugo for best performance at the 56th Chicago International Film festival, the latest in a long list of career honors.

Topping the Nikkatsu lineup is “Wife of a Spy,” the Kurosawa Kiyoshi WWII suspense drama that won a Silver Lion at this year’s Venice festival. Nikkatsu is also representing “Ainu Mosir,” a drama by Fukunaga Takeshi set in the indigenous Ainu community in northern Japan and starring Ainu actors – a first for a Japanese film.