The Tokyo Filmex festival wrapped up on Sunday with a prize ceremony and the surprise screening of “Revolution of Our Times,” a documentary about the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Filmex and the Tokyo International Film Festival have been largely cooperative events in the past two years. TIFF will come to a close with its own prize ceremony on Monday evening.
The Filmex first prize was awarded jointly to “Anatomy of Time,” directed by Thailand’s Jakrawal Nilthamrong, and to “What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?,” directed by Georgia’s Aleksandre Koberidze. Each wins a cash prize of JPY500,000 ($4,400).
The competition jury described “Anatomy” as “a suddenly cruel and violent sequence of characters past and present in which different layers of time are intertwined in a fascinating and challenging way.” Of “Sky” the jury said it was “a beautiful portrait of the city of Kutaisi [in which] the camera gives an equal look to people, animals, trees, gutters and everything else that exists.” “Sky” also won the student jury prize.
A separate audience award went to “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” directed by Hamaguchi Ryusuke. The film has been a major hit on the international festival circuit since its Silver Bear win at the Berlin festival in March. It had been the opening film of Filmex and will have its commercial release later this year in Japan.
“Revolution of our Times” had its world premiere in July in Cannes, where the festival deliberately delayed announcing its programming in order to minimize the chance of political blowback from the Chinese government. The Filmex organizers used the same approach and only announced the “Revolution” screening on Saturday, one day before the event. Unconfirmed local sources report that Filmex quickly sold some 700 tickets for the screening.
“Revolution” was filmed by Kiwi Chow during more than a year of civil unrest in Hong Kong that followed the city government’s attempt to pass a law that would allow extradition to mainland China. The government action sparked massive peaceful protests, followed by several months of civil disobedience and on-street violence. This in turn was met by unprecedented military-style tactics on the part of Hong Kong police, an aggressive prosecution policy by the government and the imposition by Beijing of a National Security Law.
Chow has since sold all his right and all materials connected with the film in order to minimize his risk of prosecution. A new film censorship law introduced in Hong Kong last week makes it unlikely that “Revolution” will be allowed to screen in the city where it was made.
Seven titles from Filmex will be made available online until Nov 23, 2021.