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Looking back at Singapore & JFF 2017

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The Japanese Film Festival of Singapore was held on March 2, 2018, and Shinobu Yaguchi―director of opening movie “The Survival Family”―attended the event as a guest. As well as attending the opening ceremony together with Singaporean movie director and actress Michelle Chong, Yaguchi enjoyed exchanges with the many fans who had attended through talk events, etc. after the movie’s screening.

(From left) Director Shinobu Yaguchi, Michelle Chong

Yaguchi, who was visiting Singapore for the first time, made the audience laugh when he said: “I was astonished when I heard an announcement on the plane saying that chewing gum was prohibited on-board.” When asked about the secret behind his production of many comedy films, Yaguchi made the following revelation: “I also write screenplays alone, but at that stage I’m not really aware of the points that will make people laugh. At any rate, comedy comes from making allowances for production, the performance of actors and the tempo of editing, so any tragedy can be turned into a comedy depending on its production.”

At the talk even after the screening, Yaguchi also actively fielded questions from the audience. One of these questions was: “I got the sense that this film was shot with handheld cameras, but what were your aims in terms of production?” To which Yaguchi responded by revealing some production secrets: “Actually, the scenes where electricity is running were shot with fixed cameras, but we used handheld cameras in scenes where the electricity had run out. Why? Because we wanted people to feel that the story was, in a sense, a documentary. When shooting, I asked the person working behind the camera to shoot from a perspective of actually being a member of this family. By doing that, my aim was to make the viewer also feel just like one of the family.” This response brought a round of applause from the audience.

In Singapore, the venue for the last of the Japanese Film Festivals in the Asia-Pacific region during 2017, the spectacular opening of the event was covered by around 60 media outlets, and the festival was a great success throughout its duration of roughly two weeks.

To all Japanese Film Festival fans

In 2017, the Japanese Film Festival was spread across 40 cities in 13 countries (ten ASEAN countries, plus Australia, India and China), receiving a total of around 140,000 visitors. The festivals were enlivened by many movie directors and actors from Japan who took part as guests. The JFF WEB Magazine (a web magazine site covering Japanese cinema information opened in October 2017) is also becoming very popular, having been browsed by more than 200,000 people from around the world.

Japanese Film Festivals featuring the best new Japanese movies will also be held in 2018, so I look forward to being able to meet you all again in various venues.

I would like to again express my thanks to everyone who loves the Japanese Film Festival.

Masafumi Konomi, Editor-in-chief