Despite the continued challenges and uncertainties brought about by COVID-19, the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) plans to go ahead with a hybrid edition of the 34th edition of TIFF, to be held from Oct 30 through Nov 8. The 33rd TIFF was also held both physically and online under the threat of the pandemic.
Organizers said the festival is aiming for a further leap forward in 2021, and has decided to take a number of innovative steps for the 34th edition.
First, it will change its main venue to the Hibiya-Ginza area from Roppongi, which has been the site of the festival's main venue since 2004. The Hibiya-Ginza area has a long and renowned tradition as a cinema center, and it now has abundant theaters and related facilities, such as hotels and restaurants. In addition, the main venue of Tokyo Filmex is located in Hibiya. Tokyo Filmex strengthened its ties with TIFF from last year, and will be held concurrently this year as well. The new proximity of the two festivals will enable enhanced convenience for audiences to watch films at both.
Furthermore, the Asia Lounge Conversation Series co-presented by The Japan Foundation Asia Center, which was launched last year as a place for filmmakers from around the world to gather and interact, is planned to be held in Hibiya again this year with the cooperation of the director Hirokazu Kore-eda. Thus, it is expected that the concurrent screenings at TIFF and Tokyo Filmex, as well as the interaction of filmmakers at the Asia Lounge, will work together organically to heighten the excitement.
Second, organizers are reexamining their approach to programming and plan to reorganize the overall structure of sections of the competition. In a related development, Shozo Ichiyama has been appointed TIFF Programing Director. Yoshi Yatabe, who has overseen programming since 2004, will leave his role at the end of March. Ichiyama was a programmer at TIFF in the early days, before he left to found Tokyo Filmex. He is also internationally known as a film producer, with an extensive overseas network. Ichiyama will resign from his position as programming director at Tokyo Filmex to devote himself to TIFF.
Ichiyama commented: “Last year's TIFF proved that a meaningful film festival could be held under the various restrictions of COVID-19. And now, TIFF is about to undergo a major transformation. I hope that I can make full use of my experience and knowledge and contribute to that transformation.”
Third, TIFF is committing itself to gender equality. At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Collectif 50/50 launched a gender parity charter aimed at promoting gender equality and transparency in film festival selection committee members, film directors, cast and crew. On March 8, 2021, International Women's Day, TIFF signed the 5050x2020 pledge. The pledge has been signed by 156 film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin and Venice, but TIFF becomes the first Asian film festival to sign the Gender Parity Pledge.
Finally, Takeo Hisamatsu, who has been the festival director since the 30th TIFF (2017), will leave his role in the end of March and TIFF Chairman Hiroyasu Ando will continue in a leadership role.
The TIFF Chairman commented: “I hope that filmmakers and audiences from Japan and across the globe will be able to gather in Tokyo to celebrate this year's film festival, overcoming the challenges caused by COVID-19. We will continue to do our best to surmount them.”
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