The 2019 edition of the SKIP City International D-Cinema Festival concluded on July 21st with an awards ceremony during which International Competition Jury President Miike Takashi and Japanese Film Competition Jury President Ogigami Naoko distributed awards in each of the festival’s categories. As always, the focus of this post will zero in on the winners of the Japanese Film Competition.
Best Picture in the feature-length category went to Sacrifice by Tsuboi Taku.
Tsuboi’s feature directorial debut, it is the first to be produced through a scholarship from Rikkyo University’s Department of Body Expression and Cinematic Arts. While at Rikkyo, Tsuboi has been involved with movies such as Makoto Shinozaki’s Sharing (2014), Wish We Were Here (2018), and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Journey to the Shore (2015). Upon accepting the trophy, Tsuboi commented:
With a synopsis already reading much like a cautionary tale for our times when truth and conjecture are often mistaken for the same thing, this nod from the Japanese Competition Jury should place Sacrifice on anyone’s “must-see” or “one-to-screen” list as we head into the autumn festival season.
Best Picture in the shorts category was awarded to The Distant Light by Utsuno Tatsuya.
The movie stars Kimura Tomoki in this tale of a hunter dealing with loss as he attempts to raise his daughter in a snowy mountain village which the trailer paints as atmospheric and haunting; then the mood of the preview is disrupted by blunt imagery of deer hunting which hints there could be more weighty undertones.
The Audience Award in the feature-length category was given to Me & My Brother’s Mistress by co-directors Haga Takashi and Suzuki Sho.
A story directed by two men about a young girl bonding with her brother’s mistress winning the audience award certainly suggests Haga and Suzuki’s gender has entirely no relation to creating a story which connects with its viewers.
The Audience Award winner in the shorts category was given to Sticks and Stones directed by Sato Takuma.
Sato’s debut feature Don’t Say That Word (2014) won two awards at PFF Award and screened at the 19th Busan International Film Festival. Like that movie, Sticks and Stones sets its dramatic framework on its side–the “medical rehabilitation comeback story”–focusing more on its characters’ motivations to render a realistic relationship between two people unsure about their futures.
The SKIP City Award was bestowed on F is for Future by Isobe Teppei.
Teppei impressed with his short Who Knows About My Life (read my thoughts here) which has rightfully been picking up awards wherever it plays. Overnight Walk, his 50 minute follow-up collaboration with that movie’s star, Yashiki Hiroko, won the grand prize and two actress awards at the 4th Kashikojima Film Festival among others. Proving none of this was a fluke, his debut feature (by just two mintues) takes home the SKIP City Award and the access it grants to Sai-no-Kuni Visual Plaza facilities for his next project. If you’re not paying attention to this filmmaker, you should be.
Naoko Ogigami who recently directed the transgender-themed family movie Close-Knit had this message to say to the filmmakers at the ceremony:
Personally, I would add my hope they will keep telling stories which are unique, bold, and uncomprising in their vision. Whether produced under an independent framework or through a studio, compelling stories come in a variety of shapes and sizes. All of these filmmakers show incredible promise and Indievisual will endeavor to keep a watchful eye on them and their future works.