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The Short Shorts Film Festival wrapped in Tokyo

Special Screenings include the Japan premiere of THANK YOU FOR SMOKING

The Short Shorts Film Festival (SSFF) closed its 8th annual festival in Tokyo this month by awarding over $60,000 in cash prizes to award-winning films. Over 1,000 guests attended the Award Ceremony at the Meiji Shrine. The ceremony will be broadcast on Japan’s Jupter TV/Movie Plus satellite channel on June 25. In attendance were Japanese and Korean celebrities, jury members, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING director and SSFF alum Jason Reitman, short filmmakers from Japan and abroad, and Japanese comedian Gori “Garage Sale,” who upon receiving the Short Shorts Spotlight Award for his short noir spoof DICK BOGGIE exclaimed, “I’m so nervous. I wish you could see my asshole!”

The National Tour of the festival continues through August with screenings in Nasu, Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima.

Grand Prix: THE LAST CHIP, dir. Heng Tang (Hong Kong/Vietnam/Australia)

International (non-Asian) Competition
Best Short Film: BEFORE DAWN, dir. Bálint Kenyeres (Hungary)
Cash prize: 600,000 Yen (approximately $5,200)
Additional prize: MoviePlus/Jupiter TV Award of 1,000,000 Yen (approximately $8,700)

Jury Special Mention: HAYELET BODEDA (THE SUBSTITUTE), dir. Talya Lavie (Israel)

Audience Award: THE MECHANICALS, dir. Leon Ford (Australia)
Cash Prize: 400,000 Yen (approximately $3,500)

Asian Competition
Best Short Film: THE LAST CHIP, dir. Heng Tang (Hong Kong/Vietnam/Australia)
Cash prize: 600,000 Yen (approximately $5,200)
Additional prize: Governor of Tokyo Award

Jury Special Mention: VILLAGE FOOTBALL, dir. Sainath Choudhury (India)

Audience Award: BUNNY & CLYDO, dir. Rocky Jo (USA/Japan/Korea/Taiwan)
Cash Prize: 400,000 Yen (approximately $3,500)

National Competition
Best Short Film: LA BELLE DAMES SANS MERCI, dir. Hidetoshi Oneda (Japan/USA)
Cash Prize: Cash prize: 600,000 Yen (approximately $5,200)
Additional prize: Asahi Super Dry Scholarship Award of 3,000,000 Yen (approximately $26,000) to be used toward production of a new short film
Additional prize: Governor of Tokyo Award

Jury Special Mention: RESONANCE OF TEARS, dir. Atsuhiko Watanabe (Japan)

Audience Award: NEGAIWAKANAU, dir. Ichiro Okuma (Japan)
Cash Prize: 400,000 Yen (approximately $3,500)

One of the festival’s many highlights was the Japan premiere of the critically acclaimed THANK YOU FOR SMOKING starring Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes, and Rob Lowe. Director Jason Reitman and producer Daniel Dubiecki’s short film IN GOD WE TRUST screened at SSFF in 2001, and the festival was thrilled to invite them back to Tokyo to present their first feature film. Mr. Reitman and Mr. Dubiecki participated in a Q&A session after the screening and in the Award Ceremony. Mr. Reitman’s advice to the filmmakers in the audience was to remain faithful to their hearts and not to let the business of filmmaking detour them from their true visions.

Korean actor and heart-throb Jitae Yoo, who starred in the 2004 Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or winning film OLD BOY, was a special guest of the festival. Masses of women turned out to see Mr. Yoo in person at the screening and discussion session for his directorial debut, the short film HOW DOES THE BLIND DREAM.

In total, 101 shorts were screened at SSFF 2006, plus two programs of Korean music videos. To raise awareness of women working in film, SSFF highlighted shorts directed by women filmmakers, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Mary Wigmore’s DEALBREAKER. The festival continued its tradition of screening early works by world-renowned feature filmmakers—aka “Maestro Short Shorts”--with short films directed by Aussies P.J. Hogan (MURIEL’S WEDDING), Phillip Noyce (PATRIOT GAMES), and George Miller (MAD MAX).

Other special screenings included former SSFF jury member and acclaimed director Hiroyuki Nakano’s short film IRON, which was recognized with the Young Critics Award at Cannes International Critics Week and Toshiro Sonoda’s TOKYO TENSHI, which was financed with the 3,000,000 Yen Asahi Super Dry scholarship Mr. Sonoda won at last year’s SSFF.

The festival’s impressively talented jury included fashion icon and former pop band Pizzicato Five vocalist Maki Nomiya and acclaimed actor Tatsuya Fuji (IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES).


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