【Tokyo International Film Festival 2019】Japan Now: Iconic Director, Nobuhiko Obayashi from Early Films to His Latest Masterwork

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The Tokyo International Film Festival announced that it will be highlighting the work of legendary director Nobuhiko OBAYASHI at the 32nd TIFF, running October 28 – November 5, 2019.

Launched in 2015 to showcase outstanding Japanese films from recent and upcoming months, Japan Now displays the diversity of Japanese film and conveys unique aspects of Japanese culture, as well as providing a multifaceted look inside today's Japan.

The first two iterations focused on directors Masato HARADA (Climber's High, Chronicle of My Mother, Kakekomi, The Emperor in August) and Shunji IWAI (Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?, Love Letter, Swallowtail Butterfly, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle).

In 2017, Japan Now highlighted the achievements of four Muses of Japanese Cinema: Sakura ANDO, Yu AOI, Hikari MITSUSHIMA and Aoi MIYAZAKI. In 2018, the Actor in Focus was Koji YAKUSHO, with screenings of masterpieces selected from his 40-year acting career.

This year's TIFF will shine a spotlight on the legendary director Nobuhiko Obayashi.

Japanese auteur Nobuhiko Obayashi is a forerunner of today’s independent film directors, a field he pioneered.

His first commercial film, House, surprised audiences with unique touches not found in the work of studio directors. He was a leading light in Japanese films of the 70s and 80s with his fantastical and poetic works.

TIFF will showcase Casting Blossoms to the Sky(2011), Seven Weeks (2014) and Hanagatami(2017) have been called the War Trilogy, as well as hosting the world premiere of his latest film, Labyrinth of Cinema.

Nobuhiko Obayashi Comments

"Live freely. That's the mark of peace," said my father. He gave me an 8mm camera as if it were his memento when I moved to Tokyo at 18. I screened my first 8mm film in one corner of a Ginza art gallery, which earned international recognition and was acclaimed as the birth of a new film artist. Since then, I have been making personal films with funds earned by creating TV commercials for 60 years.

Invited by the major studio Toho, despite being an outsider, I shot House, which allowed me to recognize that even an aesthetic literary work could be adapted to the commercial film genre. Although I had the experience of being a naively patriotic supporter of Japan during World War II, I have continued to create films in a variety of genres that imply an antiwar stance.

It has been 61 years since my wife, Kyoko Obayashi, prepared herself to become "the wife of a struggling auteur." I have worked hard to create films even today with Kyoko, who has supported my films by connecting them with the world, saying "I'm your first audience."

We have also had the support of our daughter Chigumi, who was one of the original writers of House at the age of 11, her husband and manga artist Takehito Moriizumi, and close friends from the older and newer generations.

It was difficult to select the titles for this TIFF tribute, but I hope you will watch my rarely screened films. As the years roll by, there are many more personal films being made, as I always hoped. I hope the audience will enjoy both the signs of freedom and of restricted freedoms in my work. It would be fun if my true character is revealed.