Press Release June 1, 2016
Award Ceremony at the 16th Nippon Connection Film Festival
Comedy about aging yakuza, family drama, and documentary awarded
After six days with over 100 films from Japan and a rich variety of other cultural events, the 16th Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection in Frankfurt am Main ended on May 29. With far more than 16,000 visitors, a new record was set, and many of the film screenings, concerts, and workshops were quickly sold out – thanks also to around 60 guests. Directors, actors, producers, and artists from Japan and from all over the world had come to present their work to the audience. The festival closed with the award ceremony at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.
This year's Nippon Cinema Award, an audience award, went to Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen by Takeshi Kitano. In his feature film about an old-school yakuza, the director returns to his roots in comedy and takes an ironic glimpse at Japan’s ageing society. The award, endowed with 2,000 Euros, sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler from Frankfurt am Main, was presented for the twelfth time. Gerhard Wiesheu of Bankhaus Metzler handed the award to producer Shozo Ichiyama from Office Kitano.
The Nippon Visions Audience Award was given to Under the Cherry Tree by Kei Tanaka. The documentary film convinced as a sensitive portrait of the elderly residents of a public housing complex. The filmmaker received the award in person. This audience award is endowed with 1,000 Euros and was sponsored for the third time by the Japanese Cultural Center Frankfurt.
Takeo Kikuchi is the winner of the Nippon Visions Jury Award. In his family drama Dear Deer, filled with impressive acting performances, the young director tells the story of a troubled relationship between siblings while also dealing with the stagnation in small Japanese towns. As the jury members pointed out, they were especially impressed by the director's light-footed approach and the performance of the leading actress. The three members of the jury were German filmmaker Gunter Deller, Shozo Ichiyama, producer from Office Kitano and program director at FILMeX Festival, and film critic Yuka Kimbara. The award winner will receive a subtitling for the director's next project, sponsored by the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) from Tokyo.
Two more films from the Nippon Visions section received a special mention. The documentary Under the Cherry Tree by Kei Tanaka was not only chosen as the audience's favorite, but it was also regarded as an outstanding achievement by the jury. The Man Who Was Eaten, a science fiction comedy by director Keisuke Kondo, was praised as an original social satire. The award ceremony was followed by the screening of the closing film Pieta in the Toilet, in attendance of director Daishi Matsunaga.
The date for next year's Nippon Connection festival is already set: from May 23 to 28, 2017, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle will once more become a center of Japanese cinema.
The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized on a voluntary basis by the more than 70 members of the Nippon Connection registered association. The festival is realized under the patronage of Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the city of Frankfurt am Main, and Takeshi Kamiyama, Consul General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main.