Tokyo In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val: find­ing magic in first im­pres­sions

EX­CITE­MENT OF WATCH­ING FILM WITH­OUT KNOW­ING WHAT TO EX­PECT IS MAGIC OF CIN­EMA

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page -

The five mem­bers of the 31st Tokyo In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val’s (TIFF ) of­fi­cial com­pe­ti­tion jury sat down with the press on Novem­ber 1,the morn­ing af­ter they had first ap­peared to­gether at the open­ing cer­e­mony.

Presided over by ac­claimed direc­tor Bril­lante Ma Men­doza of the Philip­pines (The Masseur, Ki­natay,Asian Three-Fold Mir­ror 2016: Re­flec­tions), the panel in­cludes Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Bryan Burk (StarTrek,Mis­sion:Im­pos­si­ble,StarWars: The Force Awak­ens), Ira­nian ac­tress Taraneh Ali­doosti (I’m Taraneh, 15, The Sales­man), Hong Kong pro­ducer-direc­tor Stan­ley Kwan (Ac­tress, Hold You Tight, First Night Nerves) and Ja­panese ac­tress Kaho Mi­nami (Fam­ily X, Kabu­ki­cho Love Ho­tel, Oh Lucy!).

Im­me­di­ately in­ject­ing en­thu­si­asm into the pro­ceed­ings, Burk said,“My love of movies is only matched by my love of Tokyo.” Kwan con­fided,“I get a very se­cure feel­ing when I sit in a big theatre watch­ing a film, so I’m look­ing for­ward to th­ese 16 films.”

Asked about their ex­pec­ta­tions for the judg­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Men­doza ex­plained,“We have all re­ceived guide­lines for the judg­ing process,but at the end of the day, it’s go­ing to be down to us.The ex­cite­ment of watch­ing a film with­out know­ing what to ex­pect is the magic of cin­ema. I think it’s im­por­tant not to fol­low strict guide­lines for what makes a good film,but to see how much the films move us and how well they use cin­e­matic lan­guage.”

Mi­nami, speak­ing in English, said, “It’s im­por­tant to have first im­pres­sions while watch­ing a film, not to get in­for­ma­tion about it be­fore­hand. I want to watch the films with [an open] heart. It’s a big chance to meet the new worlds of th­ese 16 films.”

Burk con­curred: “I’ve in­ten­tion­ally tried to not read syn­opses. I think we’re go­ing to be see­ing some great movies. Noth­ing’s easy in the film busi­ness,so the fact that th­ese films were se­lected is re­ally some­thing.”

Said Ali­doosti, “We have a say­ing in Farsi that the in­ten­tion is to look at ev­ery­one — in this case, th­ese movies — with the same pair of eyes.This is the TIFF, so I’m sure that all the films in the line-up are good movies. I will try to for­get about the names and the coun­tries of their ori­gin and look at each with the same pair of eyes.”

Stan­ley Kwan men­tioned that he had gone to see A Star Is Born, the TIFF’s open­ing film, on its first day of re­lease in Hong Kong, be­cause he al­ready knew the story and the stars.“But be­ing a jury mem­ber is dif­fer­ent from just be­ing a film­goer. I don’t want to know any­thing about th­ese 16 films be­fore watch­ing. If the film can move me, that’s [what mat­ters].”

Com­ment­ing that Men­doza is the first direc­tor from the Philip­pines to head the jury at theTIFF,he was asked for his thoughts about the mile­stone. “I’m very happy, priv­i­leged and hon­oured, con­sid­er­ing that I’m a film­maker com­ing from a de­vel­op­ing coun­try,” he re­sponded.“We’re cel­e­brat­ing our 100th an­niver­sary of Philip­pine cin­ema this year and the next, so I think it’s im­por­tant for artists from my coun­try to see that a fel­low film­maker is head­ing the jury in a de­vel­oped coun­try like Ja­pan.”

Mi­nami was then asked about be­ing the ‘Ja­pan rep­re­sen­ta­tive’ on the jury.“It’s a huge hon­our to be part of this, with this won­der­ful pro­ducer, di­rec­tors and ac­tress.They have made movies I’ve been re­ally in­spired by. We’re al­ready get­ting along well and have es­tab­lished a sense of ca­ma­raderie.We all share a love of cin­ema and have devoted our lives to it. As Mr. Men­doza men­tioned, it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­cide the Grand Prix. Af­ter this early press con­fer­ence,we’ll be watch­ing three films to­day.”

Not­ing that there were not many fe­male di­rec­tors in the com­pe­ti­tion sec­tion of the 31st TIFF, a (male) jour­nal­ist asked whether the ju­rors felt fes­ti­vals had a duty to in­clude more of them.

Ali­doosti re­sponded,“I think ev­ery­one has to play a role in equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. This prob­lem or is­sue that women are a mi­nor­ity among film­mak­ers,is be­cause women are a mi­nor­ity ev­ery­where.We have to take lit­tle steps for­ward to im­prove this. But I was heart­ened to hear yes­ter­day that this is the first time the jury has in­cluded two fe­males, so maybe we can see this as a step.”

Mi­nami, thank­ing the jour­nal­ist for an im­por­tant ques­tion, said,“In our world, it’s nat­u­ral to have 50-50 rep­re­sen­ta­tion, but maybe next year we’ll have three fe­male jury mem­bers, and maybe even a fe­male jury pres­i­dent.Al­though we don’t have many fe­male di­rec­tors in the com­pe­ti­tion,I be­lieve that theTIFF is mov­ing for­ward on this is­sue. I think it’s im­por­tant that we speak out,as Cate Blanchett said at this year’s Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.”

Burk added,“I’m up­set that we have to con­tinue hav­ing ques­tions like this, al­though I un­der­stand that it’s im­por­tant. I look for­ward to hav­ing ju­ries with all fe­male mem­bers. I hope it will be­come a norm that both gen­ders and all races will be rep­re­sented,since there are many more qual­i­fied ju­rors than my­self.”

Men­doza con­curred,“I’m all for equal­ity and rep­re­sen­ta­tion.Ten of my 13 fea­ture films are about fe­male empowerment. Where I’m com­ing from, in the Philip­pines, it is con­sid­ered very patriarchal. I think it’s ac­tu­ally very ma­tri­ar­chal, and we’ve had two fe­male pres­i­dents. But a film fes­ti­val is de­cided on the films, not on gen­der.The fact that fes­ti­vals are aware of this prob­lem now is a big leap.”

Fi­nally, Men­doza was asked what would hap­pen if the jury was split on the se­lec­tion for the Tokyo Grand Prix. “There are times that we have to choose a film that we don’t nec­es­sar­ily like,” he re­sponded.“Just be­cause we don’t like it doesn’t mean that the film is not good. As the pres­i­dent,I would choose the film that is good, even if I didn’t per­son­ally like it.”

THE EX­CITE­MENT OF WATCH­ING A FILM WITH­OUT KNOW­ING WHAT TO EX­PECT IS THE MAGIC OF CIN­EMA. IT’S IM­POR­TANT TO HAVE FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS WHILE WATCH­ING A FILM, NOT TO GET IN­FOR­MA­TION ABOUT IT BE­FORE­HAND

THIS PROB­LEM OR IS­SUE THAT WOMEN ARE A MI­NOR­ITY AMONG FILM­MAK­ERS, IS BE­CAUSE WOMEN ARE A MI­NOR­ITY EV­ERY­WHERE. BUT I WAS HEART­ENED TO HEAR YES­TER­DAY THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THE JURY HAS IN­CLUDED TWO FE­MALES, SO MAYBE WE CAN SEE THIS AS A STEP

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