FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
"My, how you've grown!" 26 programs,70 films from 15
countries and almost 8000 viewers, all in three weekends? No
doubt about it, the Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film
& Video Festival is growing up, and growing up fast!
This year's Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film &
Video Festival, our seventh annual, ran from May 8-24, spanning
three weekends with nine days of programming at three venues
in Tokyo and Osaka. The festival has grown in leaps and bounds
each year since our first festival in 1992, and this year proved
no exception. Attendance for the two cities hit nearly 8000,
with attendance in Tokyo alone jumping 2200 from 4300 at the
6th festival in 1997 to over 6500 this year.
An independent, non-profit festival, this year's festival
was organized and run by an entirely volunteer staff, and benefited
greatly from the generous support of our sponsors. The Wacoal
Spiral Art Center provided venue support, and United Arrows,
internet providers America Online Japan, Joinac and Studio Stag,
Iberia Airlines and the British Council were the official festival
sponsors. The embassies of Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, Norway
and Spain also supported programs at the festival.
With programs ranging
from full-length feature films and experimental works to documentaries,
comic shorts and television programs from Europe, Asia, North
and South America and Japan, the festival proved that growing
up is a combination of expanding horizons and deepening previous
roots. Inspired by filmmaker Su Friedrich's outstanding "Hide
and Seek", much of this year's programming dealt with the
pleasures and confusions of adolescence and first encounters
with sexuality. Other themes included an original program of
"British Gay TV," featuring the best of British gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender television from the past five
years, and talks and discussions with directors, producers, festival
curators and journalists from overseas.
Thanks to Funding
from the British Council and in celebration with the year-long
UK 98 Festival, we were able to present BRITISH GAY TV. And Thanks
to airline sponsorship from Virgin Airways BBC and Channel Four
producer/director Kris Clarke who has produced numerous programs
for both the BBC and Channel Four. Clarke screened samples of
her work and talked about her career along with gay and lesbian
programming in England.
Clarke also produced a 10 minute video-taped interview with
Jackie Lawrence, commissioning editor at Channel Four, in which
Lawrence discussed the history of gay programming at the station
focusing on the program Out on Tuesday. The video tape was also
interspersed with clips from various programs shown over the
years. During this presentation, Clarke was joined by Naoharu
Takahashi, a former director at NHK television. The two compared
addressing gay subject matter on TV from a director's perspective
in Japan and Britain.
Special Premieres: The
Festival was pleased to present the Tokyo Premieres of Zhang
Yuan's East Palace West Palace (Japanese distributor: Tohoku
Shinsha), the first explicitly gay feature film out of China,
and Love's Debris (Japanese distributor: Cetera International),
German New Wave Cinema great Werner Schroeter's paean to love
and the human voice. Both films have gone on to theatrical release
in the Tokyo Area.
The Festival Contest: This year's
festival contest, open to all filmmakers working in Japan, saw
eight entries addressing a number of lesbian, gay and transgendered
themes in very different ways. Entries spanned a wide variety
of styles, from short animation to midlength experimental to
feature-length documentary. All entries were screened before
a sell-out audience the first weekend of the festival before
being judged by a panel of community members, filmmakers and
critics from Japan and overseas. This year's Grand Prix winner,
We Are Transgender, a documentary by Ogawa Lulu portrayed the
transgendered community in Kansai and Tokyo.
Poster Exhibition: As an extension
of the Festival's focus on the growth of gay and lesbian media
over the decades, the Spiral Hall lobby featured an exhibition
of gay and lesbian-themed Japanese film posters, pamphlets and
memorabilia from the 1950's to the 1990s.
Festival Parties: This year's
festival parties included two pre-festival events: a Brazilian
party at Tokyo Salon on March 29 and a Dress to Impress party
at Club Vivian on April 11th. During the Festival, the Juicy
party held at Club Vivian fired up festival-goers on our first
weekend and the annual Grand Bal, held on Saturday the 16th,
lived up to its name with performances by songtress Camila Abedesi
and Drag Queen Mamie-Mu Shangri-la of OK Girls fame, turning
the Spiral Hall Cafe into an explosion of spirit, mirth and style.
Our 7th and most international film festival to date was made
even more exciting by the presence of international guests from
Europe, Asia and South and North America. We were pleased and
honored to have the following guests in attendance.
||Mickey Chen, director of Not Simply a Wedding
|From the US:
||Su Friedrich, director of Hide and Seek, and
Rules of the Road Shari Frilot, curator at the OutFest in Los
||Andre Fischer, director of the Mix Brazil Festival
||Kris Clarke, director and filmmaker whose work
has appeared on both the BBC and Channel Four(by video) Jacquie
Lawrence, Commissiong Editor at Channel Four Eric Schlip, director
at Dangerous To Know distribution company Hans Scheirl, Austrian
director of Dandy Dust
||Alfonso Albacete, director and Beatriz de la
Gandara, producer of Not Love, Just Frenzy
As one would guess from our name, the Festival places utmost
emphasis on being at once international and uniquely Tokyo, and
on presenting the best of both films and festivities.
A truly festive, truly film-centered film festival with Tokyo
treats and international flair, this year's Festival showed that
we've grown up into something to be reckoned with!