Daily Report: The Kyoto International Film And Art Festival Kicks off 3rd Edition
The 2016 Kyoto International Film And Art Festival opened on October 13, 2016, with a beautifully curated ceremony held for the first time at Nijo Castle, in the center of the city.
The third edition got underway 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.
Hosted by Yuichi Kimura, Takashi Fujii and Nami Endou, the ceremony took place in beautiful sunshine, and included the first of two awards that KIFF gives out each year. The Shozo Makino Award, a long-standing prize which the festival took over from the old Kyoto Film Festival was founded in 1958 to honor Shozo Makino, a Kyoto born filmmaker often regarded as the father of Japanese cinema.
This year, actor Masahiko Tsugawa took to the stage to give the 48th Shozo Makino Award to director Masahiro Shinoda. Shinoda, a seminal figure of the 1950s and 60s Japanese new wave cinema, was recognized for creating works that have influenced a new generation of directors.
“Today it has been a long time since I’ve seen the wonderful smile of Masahiro Shinoda and that’s why I came here,” said actor Kyozo Nagatsuka, who was a surprise guest. “It’s wonderful, but from his smile, I learned that to be happy is everything, he taught me that,” said Nagatsuka.
Masahiro Shinoda then took to the microphone to give his acceptance speech. “I think it was 1964 in the Kyoto Citizen Film Festival I won an award for the movie “Assassin,” the first award I received. Now I’m 85 years old and retired, I think this is the last chance for me to receive an award, starting in Kyoto and ending in Kyoto. I should be humble and I feel that film lies in the destiny of the younger generation,” said Shinoda.
A presentation of his film 1997 “Moonlight Serenade,” starring Nagatsuka, was held after the ceremony at Toho Cinemas Nijo. The film is a nostalgic drama, beginning with a journalist reporting on the 1997 Kobe earthquake and recalling his youth in a post WWII landscape, when his family traveled from Awaji to Beppu to bury his elder brother who had died in action.
The day also saw the Japan premiere of the hotly anticipated documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai at the Yoshimoto Gion Kagetsu theater. The picture pays tribute to legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune and features such film luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Already slated to get theatrical release in the US, Germany and France among others, the film is the highest profile documentary about a Japanese actor ever. It’s sure to enlighten younger generations about the immense talent, and far-reaching influence, of Toshiro Mifune. The Kyoto audience was deeply moved by the portrayal of the renowned Japanese actor.
The day wrapped up with a joyous Opening Party at the Kyoto Hotel Okura. Honored guests from Yuya Uchida to Yvonne Scio and Hinton Battle spoke to the crowd of film industry personnel, press, officials, statesmen and the who’s who of Japanese literati.