A collaboration between SAKKA, a US distributor of independent films from Japan, and ATMOVIE, a Japanese production company, will launch a new program called “Creator Tour.” This initiative aims to support up-and-coming Japanese filmmakers in the international market. By joining forces, the two companies hope to expand the horizons of Japanese creators in the film industry and motivate future generations to excel on a global scale.
During these tours, two successful Japanese filmmakers will be invited to the US to engage with local creators and industry professionals. They will gain insight into the global market from both a commercial and artistic standpoint. The filmmakers will also take part in the 43rd Hawai‘i International Film Festival presented by Halekulani from October 12-22 (www.hiff.org) in Honolulu, Hawai’i. This event will showcase how Japanese filmmakers are perceived and represented in the international film community, and provide a firsthand experience of their potential in the foreign market.
Chiaki Yanagimoto, the founder of SAKKA, expresses excitement for the new effort to support emerging Japanese filmmakers through their unique presence in the US. This initiative was born out of a recognition of the ongoing problem and a desire to take action. Many talented filmmakers in Japan struggle to showcase their potential on a global scale due to limited awareness and firsthand experience. Fortunately, ATMOVIE shares this concern and is also seeking ways to bring about change.
ATMOVIE, a prominent independent production studio in Japan, was responsible for producing the successful indie film “Midnight Swan,” which received numerous accolades including Best Picture at the 2021 Japanese Academy Awards. This marked a significant achievement as it was the first independent film to win this prestigious award. Takeshi Moriya, the CEO and producer of ATMOVIE, shares his perspective on the collaborative effort behind this success. According to Moriya, the Japanese film industry has been primarily focused on domestic production through the production committee system, leading to a neglect of the overseas market since the early 2000s. As a result, the market for live-action Japanese films has been on the decline while the potential of the global market continues to grow rapidly. In response to this crisis, ATMOVIE has partnered with SAKKA to launch a new initiative, marking their first step towards a thriving and sustainable future for the Japanese film industry.
The main objective of this project is to increase filmmakers’ understanding and viewpoint on international standards, as well as their ability to compete on a global level. Additionally, they will gain valuable knowledge and establish connections that can be directly utilized in their future endeavors. The ultimate goal is to inspire and rejuvenate the Japanese film industry for years to come. Moriya states, “By expanding their perspective beyond domestic borders and providing a tangible roadmap, we have faith that these emerging filmmakers will lead the way for the future of Japanese cinema.”
The first two directors chosen to visit the US in October are Yusaku Matsumoto and Akio Fujimoto. Matsumoto is a highly sought-after young director in Japan, with a diverse resume that includes short films, music videos, commercials, and TV episodes for platforms like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. His most recent feature film, “Winny”, was a top 10 box office hit in Japan earlier this year and will also be featured at the Hawai’i International Film Festival. Fujimoto has independently directed two feature films, “Passage of Life” and “Along the Sea”. The latter was screened at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and earned Fujimoto the esteemed Kaneto Shindo Award and Nagisa Oshima Prize in Japan in 2021, both prestigious accolades given to the most talented new director of the year.
SAKKA is currently releasing the movies “Noise” and “Made in Japan” by Matsumoto, as well as “Passage of Life” by Fujimoto. They have been distributing Japanese independent films since 2022 and have plans for two more releases by the end of this year. SAKKA is a distinctive distribution center with a larger goal of promoting the sustainable expansion of Japanese films and filmmakers internationally, rather than just distributing films on VOD.