In a year of living vicariously, Tokyo’s back to back film festivals made a daring decision to hold physical editions of their respective events, albeit in a reduced format: fewer titles and fewer guests. But a number of novel solutions bloomed, notably in the case of TIFF which was able to bring in celebrated director Hirokazu Koreeda who came with one simple idea: have filmmakers talk to each other online. The list of directors Koreeda (and the festival) reached out to would at one time seemed more in line with an indie stance embraced by FILMeX. The list includes among others Jia Zhangke, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Kim Bora, Katsuya Tomita…although perhaps the sole anticipated Asian title at TIFF was Ann Hui’s Love after Love. The festival did have a number of international titles of interests, notably Venice festival winner Nomadland by Chloé Zhao, Possessor by Brandon Cronenberg, and Céline Sciamma Portrait of a Lady on Fire, all of which were shown on large screens at partnering cinemas (Toho and Ex Theatre).
While still maintaining its collaboration with Tokyo’s famed Asahi Hall, allowing the audience to also see films on a large screen, FILMeX, as exemplified by the very local jury it assembled, played down its global outreach. Unsurprisingly, it continued to offer, much to its credit, some of the strongest Asian releases of the year, including Jia Zhangke’s Swimming Out till the Sea Turns Blue, Tsai Ming-Liang’s Days, Hong Sang Soo’s The Woman Who Ran, and the Hong Kong omnibus helmed by Johnnie To, Septet. As both events overlapped, so did our screening experience, as circumstances invited a merging of both. But while spectators made their way the same day from one festival to the next, both the atmosphere and the merchandising of each continue to stand apart. Which doesn’t mean that the experiment failed.
On Septet: The Story of Hong Kong, dirs: Sammo Hung, Ann Hui, Patrick Tam, Yuen Woo-ping, Johnnie To, Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark. Hong Kong. 2020.
On Love after Love, directed by Ann Hui. China. 2020.
On The Woman Who Ran, directed by Hong Sang Soo. South Korea. 2020.
On Portrait of a Lady on Fire, directed by Céline Sciamma. France. 2019.
On Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue, directed by Jia Zhangke. China. 2020.
On Love Song 1980, directed by Mei Feng. China. 2020.