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.

Festival Highlights
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.

Festival Guests
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.

From Taiwan: Mickey Chen, director of Not Simply a Wedding Banquet
From the US: Su Friedrich, director of Hide and Seek, and Rules of the Road Shari Frilot, curator at the OutFest in Los Angeles
From Brazil: Andre Fischer, director of the Mix Brazil Festival
From England: 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
From Spain: 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!


(C) Tokyo International L&G Film&Video Festival