Opening Ceremony Kicks off KIFF 2016 at Nijo Castle
The 2016 Kyoto International Film And Art Festival opened on October 13 with a beautifully curated ceremony held for the first time at Nijo Castle, in the center of the city.
Built in 1679, the UNESCO-listed castle is home to Ninomaru Palace, and made a fitting venue for a festival dedicated to the history and influence of Japanese film, which was born in the city of Kyoto.
The third edition opened with an invited audience at an Opening Ceremony which began with “Kuruwa no Nigiwai”, a performance of two songs called “The Seven Happy Gods” and “All the Flowers” on flute, taiko drums and shamisen by 13 of the city’s geisha. The geisha entered and exited with a stunning showcase of the art of teu chi handclapping.
First on stage was traditional comedian Nikaku Shofukutei, dressed in traditional costume, who gave the opening speech on behalf of organizers Yoshimoto Kogyo. “This is a national treasure and special site, where the return to the power of the Emperor was held. Kyoto used to be called the Hollywood of Japan, so Kyoto is the origin of Japanese films,” he said.
“I feel pleased and happy to hold the third edition. I sincerely hope this festival will continue to develop and prosper,” Nikaku Shofukutei added.
Hosted by Yuichi Kimura, Takashi Fujii and Nami Endou, the ceremony took place in beautiful sunshine.
“Today I am pleased to see so many of you at the opening ceremony, the origin of Japanese movies” said Sadao Nakajima, Honorary Chairman of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival Executive Committee. “The festival is including art which is integrated in to many movies, and I hope you will enjoy all elements of the festival.”
“Let’s make this a celebration” said Ichiya Nakamura, Chairman of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival Executive Committee, who highlighted the festival title “Movies, Art and Everything Else” and explained to the audience the wide range of events and works on show at KIFF.
Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa said “the scene looks exactly the same as 400 years ago, with nothing artificial, in the center of 1.5 million citizens. We can see no modern buildings from here, that is what is spectacular about this castle.” The Mayor described how KIFF can help “kick off the momentum” for the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and involve the culture of Kyoto within the event.
Actress Yuko Natori took to the stage at the end of Opening Ceremony to give the award. “I am pleased and honored to be part of the festival. I like the small streets shopping areas here. I think Kyoto is a special city truly and this tie we are going to see new types of films, like documentaries. There are lots of people who really love films,” she said.
After awarding the Shozo Makino Award, the Opening Ceremony ended with a rapturous round of applause, ahead of the opening film, documentary “Mifune: The Last Samurai.”