• Festivals

Ichiyama Shozo, Programming Director of the Tokyo International Film Festival

Ichiyama Shozo (Japan 1963), the Programming Director of the Tokyo International Film Festival since last year, was also in charge of selecting their films from 1992 to 1999.

Then in 2000 he launched the Film Festival Tokyo FILMeX and served as its director. Since 2013 he has been a visiting professor at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Film and New Media. He is the recipient of the 2019 Kawakita Award, which honors individuals or organizations who have contributed to the promotion of Japanese cinema overseas.

Ichiyama also has a vast experience as producer of international movies, including Iranian filmmaker Samira Makhmalbaf’s Blackboards (2000), Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize-winning. And A Touch of Sin (2013), directed by Chinese Jia Zhangke, who won Best Screenplay at Cannes.

We interviewed him by email ahead of the opening of the 35th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival, which runs from October 24th to November 2nd. It is the only Japanese event accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), and one of the leading movie festivals in Asia.

This year the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) received 1,695 entries from 107 countries and regions. How does a movie qualify to be in the TIFF?

Regarding the competition section (International Competition and Asian Future Competition), our principal rule is the film should be completed in 2022, and at least Japan premiere. However, we will give the priority to the films which are world premier or at least Asian premier. Finally, all competition films are at least Asian premier. As for Japanese films in competition section, they should be world premiere.

What makes Tokyo’s different from other festivals, especially this year with the 35th edition?

It’s difficult to say what the difference between TIFF and other festivals is. This year, we have strong lineup of Japanese new films in various sections. I hope film festival programmers who come can find very good Japanese films for their festivals.

Regarding Asian movies, how is it decided which ones compete for Tokyo Grand Prix vs the Asian Future Best Film Award?

The films of Asian Future Competition shall be the directors’ first, second or third feature films. But sometimes we select such Asian films in International Competition. This year Mountain Woman is the third feature film by Fukunaga Takeshi, but we selected this film in International Competition because I think is very powerful and worthwhile competing there.

How did you choose the TIFF jury?

We choose the jury members considering the variety of their profession. We must also think about the variety of nationalities. We don’t give them any specific instructions.

Do you think Eastern audiences have a different taste for movies than Western ones?

Regarding arthouse films, I don’t think there’s big difference between Eastern audiences and Western audiences. Most of the films which are travelling film festivals are welcomed by Japanese arthouse audiences. But regarding commercial films, especially comedy, there must be big difference. Many Asian comedy films, which work in Asia don’t work in Europe or USA. 


10 movies competing for the Asian Future Best Film Award 2022:


Ten films that have been selected to compete for the Asian Future Best Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2022:

A Light Never Goes Out (Hong Kong)

When a skilled man dies, his devastated wife decides to carry on his unfinished dream of making neon signs. The first-length movie from female director Anastasia Tsang, after two shorts.

A Place of Our Own (India)

After sudden eviction by their prejudiced landlord, two transwomen must put their wits together to find a home and reclaim their place in society. Directed by Ektara Collective, “an independent, autonomous, non-funded group of people who seek to combine creative efforts and imagination and collaborate with trained and untrained people to make films”.

Butterflies Live Only One Day (Iran)

An old woman who lives alone near a dam-submerged village in northern Iran has taken a vow of silence. She only has one big goal: to receive the government’s permission to enter an island to visit the grave of her son killed in the Iran-Iraq War. But after thirteen years, entry permit was not granted to her. So she decides to take action. Directed by Mohammadreza Vatandoust.


Cloves & Carnations (Turkey/Belgium)

It’s winter in Anatolia. An aged refugee, on his way home with his granddaughter, drags a coffin with his wife’s body. But crossing borders is not easy. Bekir Bülbül conceived a serene road movie about the desired peace.

i ai (Japan)

Musician MahiTo The People directed his first movie, about two quite different men who become friends and then must face a sudden tragedy.

Opium (India)

“Religion is opium,” said Marx. In this film, five short stories in genres from comedy to social issues and dystopian sci-fi, attempts to examine the religious situation in India from multiple perspectives. Directed by Aman Sachdeva.


The Altman Method (Israel)

From director Nadav Aronowicz. A man prevents a terrorist knife attack by killing the stabber. Soon his wife starts noticing cracks in the official story of the attack, a discovery that thrusts her into a severe moral crisis as lying seems to be the only way to the truth.


The Cord of Life (China)

An electronic musician and his mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, begin to live together in her steppe homeland. The debut film by Qiao Sixue.


Sayonara, Girls (Japan)

Two days before the high school graduation ceremony, four students bid farewell to youth and move forward with regret and hope in mind. Directed by Shun Nakagawa.


Suddenly (Turkey)

From female director and writer Melisa Önel. Returning to Istanbul with her husband after 30 years, a woman loses her sense of smell and leaves home in despair. Working in a hotel, she meets someone.


Besides, the list of the members of the jury and the 15 movies competing for the Tokyo Grand Prix 2022 can be reviewed in detail. CLICK HERE.