A press conference featuring the internationally acclaimed director Yoji YAMADA and his latest film, Tora-san, Wish You Were Here, was held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on October 3.
Takeo HISAMATSU, Festival Director of the 32nd TIFF, discussed this year’s TIFF highlights, while Japan Now Programming Advisor Kohei ANDO discussed the Japan Now Section. During the Q&A session, Yamada made remarks and shared his thoughts about being selected as this year’s Opening Film.
The 32nd TIFF will take place October 28 to November 5, 2019 at Roppongi Hills, EX Theater Roppongi, Hibiya Step Square and other venues in Tokyo.
Quotes from the Press Conference
–Takeo HISAMATSU, Festival Director, 32nd TIFF
This 32nd TIFF is held in the first year of the Reiwa era. Next month, the new emperor’s enthronement ceremony will be held, and guests will be coming to Japan from all over the world. We also have the Tokyo Olympics next year, which has drawn a lot of attention to Japan. So we’ve decided to highlight Japan in this year’s TIFF. We are opening with Yoji Yamada’s Tora-san, Wish You Were Here. I am personally privileged to showcase it as the Opening Film as I am one of Yamada-san’s fans and I worked with him at Shochiku. We also have a Gala screening of Masayuki Suo’s Talking the Pictures. Japan Now will feature legendary filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi, and in the Classics section, we’ll focus on legendary actress Machiko Kyo, who passed away earlier this year. We’ve created a new section, Japanese Animation, to deepen and broaden our coverage of this form. Also we’ll look at the VFX evolution in Japan. So Japanese films and culture will be highlighted, which I think will be significant for everyone.
-Kohei ANDO, Japan Now Programming Advisor
The Japan Now section deems as its mission to showcase Japanese films that reflect the present state of this country, its true aesthetics, its culture and philosophy. In that sense, showcasing a film like Tora-san, Wish You Were Here, the newest film of the Tora-san series, as the Opening Film of the festival serves this purpose. I have a bit of regret about not to be able to show this wonderful film by Mr. Yamada in the Japan Now section, but I have a sense of pride to be able to present it as the Opening Film. In the Japan Now section, we are going to feature works by another legendary filmmaker, Nobuhiko Obayashi. As you may know, he was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Since then however, he shot a wonderful film called Hanagatami two years ago. And yet, while he was battling his cancer, he shot another film, Labyrinth of Cinema. This is another wonderful piece of work by Mr. Obayashi. In addition to five films directed by Mr. Obayashi, Japan Now will feature 9 films that are representative of contemporary Japan, in total 14 films will be showcased.
→ The full Japan Now section lineup
-Yoji YAMADA, Director
I have made dozens and dozens of films for half a century, but making this newest film of the Tora-san series, I had a sense of surprise myself when I began to realize what kind of film I was embarking on. While we were shooting, I was still anxious about the film, but also had expectations as to what kind of film it ultimately become. While I was viewing the completed film over and over, I realized once again that it really took 50 years for me to be able to shoot this final film. So what I thought was perhaps it was my longevity, thanks to living so long, that allowed me to make this film.
Thinking of my age, it makes me feel a lot of anxiety. And I sometimes feel I should stop making films. But, directors like Clint Eastwood are still making films, so I suppose I should continue the challenge as well. Additionally, Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira and also Japanese director Kaneto Shindo, both of them shot films until the age of 100, so I have a little way to go.
The challenge of making this kind of series is that the audience always comes to see a new Tora-san film to meet him again and spend time with him, so you cannot betray the audience’s expectations, but you still have to betray the audience some way. There are various film festivals around the world, and I think TIFF represents Japan. I think it’s very important for TIFF to have a theme to differentiate itself from other festivals, a certain character or certain attraction, something that people would not find in any other festival around the world. I hope that TIFF continues to work towards that goal so that it becomes a unique film festival cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Yoji Yamada – Director
After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo, he entered Shochiku as an assistant director. He made his film debut with A Stranger Upstairs in 1961, and later launched the successful “Tora-san” series, which started in 1969 and became the world’s longest-running film series starring the same actor, with 50 films. His works include The Yellow Handkerchief (1977), The Twilight Samurai (2002) and What a Wonderful Family! (2016). He was presented with the Order of Culture in 2012.