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Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2013 – Final Thoughts

The Toronto Japanese Film Festival at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre would like to announce the winner of the 2013 Kobayashi Audience Choice Award is Tomo Goda’s Being Born.

Despite stellar audience feedback for THE KIRISHIMA THING, FLOATING CASTLE, KEY OF LIFE, TOKYO FAMILY, REUNION, RUROUNI KENSHIN, TENCHI – THE SAMURAI ASTRONOMER, and many other of the films, nothing could surpass the overwhelming response to BEING BORN. Congratulations and thank you to Goda-san and all the community members who brought this film to the festival and made it, and the entire Toronto Japanese Film Festival, such an unprecedented success.

This year’s festival eclipsed our inaugural year in terms of audience numbers (almost 5000 with many sold out screenings), films screened, positive post-screening surveys and ancillary cultural events such as tea ceremonies, taiko performances and sword cutting demonstrations.

Without a doubt, one of the true highlights was a visit from Daihachi Yoshida, Winner Japanese Academy Award, Best Film, Best Director 2012, who graciously introduced the Canadian premiere of his award-winning THE KIRISHIMA THING as our closing film. Yoshida-san and his film charmed the audience and the post-screening reception went late into the night as fans waited their chance to share their thoughts on the film.

Thank you to all the volunteers, audience members, film makers and sponsors who made this year’s festival such a resounding success. We look forward to seeing everyone again in June 2014!

Impressions of the Toronto Japanese Film Festival from Daihachi Yoshida, Winner Japanese Academy Award, Best Film, Best Director 2012

「桐島、部活やめるってよ」上映当日は、(現地の方によれば珍しく)雨だった。 チケットはSOLD OUTと聞いてはいたが、やはりお客さんの入りが心配になってしまう。 上映前、ロビーをのぞいてみたら沢山の人が並んでいたので、ああ大丈夫だったと安心していたら それはキャンセル待ちの列、と聞かされ会場へ入ってみれば400席が既に埋まっていたので驚いた。 … 結局座席を増やして500近くのお客さんが観てくれたそうで、感謝するしかない。 茶道・武道・書道などの伝統文化だけではなくマンガや映画などのポップカルチャーも継続して紹介してこられた、日系文化会館のたゆまぬ活動の賜物に違いないと思った。僕の映画だけでも、過去に「腑抜けども、悲しみの愛を見せろ」と「パーマネント野ばら」を上映していただいている。

上映後のQ&Aはレセプション会場に移ってからも途切れる事なく、なんと2時間以上にも及んだ。この熱さ・長さは自己最高記録だ。自分が監督した映画が、日本から遠く離れた場所でも誰かの気持ちを動かしたということを実感できるのは、やはり映画づくりの醍醐味のひとつには違いない。 また、スタッフの皆さんにもトロント滞在の全てにわたって細やかなお気遣いをいただき、本当にありがとうございました。僕もまた呼んでいただけるよう頑張ります。

“The day of the screening of my film THE KIRISHIMA THING at the JCCC’s Toronto Japanese Film Festival it rained. The local people told me this was unusual.

Even though I had been told the screening was sold out, I was still worried about whether people would show up. Before the screening I peeked out into the lobby and, to my relief, saw lots of people lined up. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there were already 400 people in the theatre and that the line-up was for day-of rush tickets!

In the end, additional seats were added and just under 500 people saw my film. I was so thankful. I think this success was due to the fact that the JCCC promotes more than just traditional Japanese culture like tea ceremony, martial arts and calligraphy – contemporary culture like manga and film are also part of their non-stop cultural offerings. I even learned that the JCCC had already previously screened two of my earlier films, FUNUKE, SHOW SOME LOVE YOU LOSERS and PERMANENT NOBARA!

The Q&A and reception following the screening was like nothing I had experienced before in terms of passion and length: over 2 hours of every question imaginable! I realized this is definitely one of the reasons I am a filmmaker: to be able to actually connect to the feelings of all these people in a place so distant from Japan.

I am very thankful to the JCCC and festival staff for their attention to detail in carefully coordinating every aspect of my stay in Toronto. I will certainly do my best to be invited to the Toronto Japanese Film Festival again!”

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