The 29th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is pleased to announce the full lineup of films to be featured in the Japan Now Director in Focus: Shunji Iwai section.
After his recent explorations into filmmaking in Hollywood and feature-length animation, Iwai returned this year with the much-talked-about A Bride for Rip Van Winkle. As he continues to move forward into the third decade of his career, this is a perfect time to look back at Iwai’s prolific body of work, and much-deserved international reputation.
Shunji Iwai’s directing career began in 1988 with commercials, music videos and TV dramas, soon earning him acclaim for his cinematic style and vision, which came to be known as the “Iwai Aesthetic.” In 1995, he scored a huge hit across Asia with Love Letter and in 1996, PiCNiC won him a second consecutive award in the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival, bringing him to even greater international attention. Swallowtail Butterfly (96) blazed a new trail in movie and music collaboration, and All About Lily Chou-Chou (01) won awards at Berlin and Shanghai. Other major works include Hana and Alice (04), a segment in the omnibus film New York, I Love You (09) and his first English-language film, Vampire (12), which played in competition at Sundance and in the Berlin Panorama section. Iwai’s first feature-length animated film, The Case of Hana & Alice, was invited to the 2015 Annecy Animation Festival. His latest film, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (16), was released in Hong Kong and Taiwan prior to domestic release in Japan.
Kohei Ando, TIFF Japan Now Programming Advisor, comments:
“Shunji Iwai is a rare director who renders fable-like tales of contemporary Japanese youth and paints memory, time, space and society with his distinctive visual style. Fireworks, Should We See it from the Side or the Bottom? was a monumental early work that brought him critical praise and a Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award. His first feature-length film, Love Letter, a masterpiece that begins when a letter is delivered to the wrong person, it won many festival awards and continues to have a strong following among Asian and international fans. Swallowtail Butterfly is a groundbreaking work, the first to depict an era when the Japanese yen is the strongest currency in the world. Iwai’s English-language debut, Vampire, is a love story set against the world’s end. And as his latest film, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, is a sumptuous hide-and-seek story that evokes Shuji Terayama’s poetic style. This year’s director focus takes us into the mesmerizing, unforgettable world of Shunji Iwai.”
Created to showcase outstanding Japanese films from recent and upcoming months, Japan Now displays the diversity of Japanese film, and unique facets of Japanese culture, as well as providing a multifaceted look inside Japan today. The section highlights the work of a Director in Focus, as well as outstanding work by other directors, with subtitled screenings of films to boost their recognition overseas.