Koji Fukada
Koji Fukada at Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2016. (Dick Thomas Johnson)

Tokyo International Film Festival will highlight the work of internationally acclaimed director Koji Fukada at the 33rd edition of the festival, running October 31 – November 9, 2020.

This year’s Director in Focus in the Japan Now section will showcase a selection of works by Fukada, who has been attracting increased international attention and awards within and outside of Japan, demonstrating his contributions to the Japanese film industry. That attention intensified this year when his latest film, The Real Thing, was named to the Cannes Film Festival’s 2020 Official Selection. Fukada also launched a “Mini Theater Aid” initiative with fellow directors like Ryusuke Hamaguchi, aiming to prevent the collapse of arthouse theaters that had been forced to close by the coronavirus. The crowdfunding campaign raised over 300 million yen, a staggering amount, raising Fukada’s profile even further in the Japanese film industry and creating buzz that even gained political attention.

Fukada won his first TIFF award in 2010 with Hospitalité, which also won Best Feature in the Asian Films category at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. He went on to win further festival awards for such work as Au revoir l’été (2013) and Sayonara (2015). In 2016, Harmonium premiered in the 69th Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, where it won the Jury Prize, making Fukada one of the most highly regarded Japanese directors on the international scene.

In 2012, he co-founded the Independent Cinema Guild, an organization of film professionals that supports the indie sector with crowdfunding assistance, networking events and other initiatives, helping foster a diversity of films that do not fall into the dualism of commercial and independent cinema. In May 2020, Fukada participated in the unique digital event We Are One: A Global Film Festival, a collaborative effort between 21 film festivals around the world, including TIFF. Fukada was TIFF’s selected director, and his new film The Yalta Conference Online was created exclusively for the event in a remote setting due to the impact of COVID-19, and gained much attention among the films screened.

TIFF will screen his latest film, The Real Thing (2020), as well as such masterpieces as Human Comedy in Tokyo (2008), Harmonium (2016) and A Girl Missing (2019).

Koji Fukada commented, “It was a huge boost for my career as a film director to have participated in and won the award at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2010. It has been a decade since then, which makes me realize that the film festival is a place that fosters artistry. I feel I am making a fresh start for the next decade through TIFF’s invitation in this milestone year of 2020. The threat of COVID-19 is still continuing, and not only the film industry but many other industries are facing difficulties. But I hope that you will come to the film festival to broaden and refresh your outlook.”

Born in 1980 in Tokyo, Koji Fukada studied in filmmaking at The Film School of Tokyo and in 2005, joined cutting-edge theater company Seinendan, headed by Oriza Hirata. His animated film Zakuro Yashiki received the Soleil d’Or (the Best Newcomer) at the 3rd Paris Kinotayo Film Festival in 2006. His first feature film, starring Seinendan actors, Human Comedy in Tokyo, was screened at the Rome International Film Festival in 2008 and won an award at Osaka Cine Drive. Fukada began earning global acclaim, receiving TIFF’s Japanese Eyes section award and Best Feature in the Asian Films category at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival for Hospitalité in 2010. Au revoir l’été, featuring Fumi Nikaido in the lead, won the grand prize and the prize of the young jury at the Nantes Three Continents Festival in 2013. In 2015, Sayonara received the Days of Cinema Award at the Filmadrid International Film Festival. Harmonium (2016) premiered in the 69th Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, winning the Jury Prize, and it also won the 67th Art Encouragement Prize from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Fukada’s first international coproduction was The Man from the Sea (2018), followed by the Locarno International Film Festival selection A Girl Missing (2019). In 2018, Fukada was made a Chevalier dans L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. His books include the novels “Harmonium” (2016), “The Man from the Sea” (2018) and “A Girl Missing” (2019). Currently, he is the co-representative director of the non-profit organization Independent Cinema Guild. His latest film The Real Thing was named to the Cannes Film Festival’s 2020 Official Selection.

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