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Award Winners of the 21st Nippon Connection Film Festival


Audience awards for queer film, time travel comedy and documentary about immigration center / Jury award for social drama about migrant workers



After six days packed with films, workshops, lectures and film talks, the 21st Nippon Connection Film Festival ended on Sunday, June 6, 2021 with an online award ceremony. Due to the pandemic, the world’s biggest festival for Japanese cinema once more took place entirely online. The closing ceremony was broadcast via livestream from the festival center at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt. All four award winners tuned in live from Japan. The numerous positive reactions of the audience via social media proved that the atmosphere of the Nippon Connection Festival, characterized by a lively exchange and encounters, also worked in the digital space.

The audience could vote online for three audience awards. The sixteenth Nippon Cinema Award, sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt and endowed with a prize money of 2,000 euros, went to the queer film his. Director Rikiya Imaizumi offers a hopeful story about the revision of traditional gender roles and the meaning of family. The film was part of this year’s thematic focus Family Matters – The Japanese Family Between Tradition And Modernity, supported by Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain.

Per audience vote, the Nippon Docs Award went to the documentary Ushiku by Thomas Ash, dealing with a current, highly controversial political issue. The film accuses human rights violations in the eponymous immigrantion center near Tokyo, as well as Japan’s current immigration policies. The award, endowed with a prize money of 1,000 euros, was given out for the second time this year.

The fast-paced time travel comedy Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes by Junta Yamaguchi received the seventh Nippon Visions Audience Award. The film was shot almost entirely in one take by the theater troupe Europe Kikaku. The award, donated by the Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachzentrum in Frankfurt, is endowed with a prize money of 1,000 euros.

The Nippon Visions Jury Award went to Along The Sea by Akio Fujimoto. The drama explores the experiences of three young female technical trainees who are exploited after coming to Japan from Vietnam. The international jury, consisting of Ellen Harrington (director of DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum), Thomas Ash (filmmaker) and Toshiyuki Hasegawa (curator of SKIP CITY INTERNATIONAL D-Cinema FESTIVAL) stated: “The director does so in a compassionate and sensitive way, working with non-professional actors and painting a beautiful cinematic landscape.” The award, a subtitling for the director’s next film, is sponsored for the eleventh time by Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) from Tokyo. Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes by Junta Yamaguchi received a special mention. The jury emphasized the “the creativity, the well-written script and the big heart” of the film.

Festival director Marion Klomfass expressed her gratitude to the numerous supporters, sponsors and cooperation partners of the festival, as well as to the many volunteers. The organizers hope to welcome the audience on location again for the next edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt am Main. The 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival will take place from May 24 to 29, 2022.

Until June 30, 2021, film fans can watch the films A Town And A Tall ChimneyFestival Of Shadows (German subtitles), as well as Fukushima Monologue and Kiyo in Kyoto: From The Maiko House (in cooperation with NHK WORLD-JAPAN) online and for free.

In addition, the Nippon Retro section will be held at the cinema of the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum in August 2021, showcasing nine films by or with Kinuyo TANAKA (1909–1977). She became one of the greatest classic star actresses and the first successful female film director in Japan. The retrospective takes place in cooperation with Japanisches Kulturinstitut Köln (The Japan Foundation). Screening dates will be announced on the website NipponConnection.com.

In the virtual Nippon Online Market on NipponConnection.com, exhibitors are still presenting a variety of Japan-related offers. Visitors can extend the festival feeling with Japanese delicacies, DVDs, books, handmade jewelry or tips for the next journey to Japan.

The festival

The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized by the 70-member, largely voluntary, team of the non-profit association Nippon Connection e.V. It is under the patronage of Angela Dorn, Hessian Minister for Science and Art, Peter Feldmann, Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main, and the Consulate General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main. Nippon Connection is one of the most popular film festivals in Hesse. A fundraising campaign is currently running on the online platform betterplace.orgbetterplace.org/en/projects/88584.

 

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