Film

Special Guests

Shinya Tsukamoto

Shinya Tsukamoto

Killing, Bullet Ballet
CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film

Born in Tokyo in 1960, Tsukamoto started making 8mm films when he was a junior high school student. After graduating from Nippon University, where he majored in oil painting, he started working as a director of television commercials while acting in local stage productions. He made his feature film debut with Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), a low-budget 16mm film about a salaryman whose body transforms into a grotesque mass of metal, which is repeatedly cited as a pioneering work of the Japanese cyberpunk genre. Since then, Tsukamoto has gained an international reputation as a masterful director of cult films with original style and vision. Among his many accolades, Tsukamoto won a Special Jury Award at the 59th Venice Film Festival for A Snake of June (2002) and the New Visions Award at the 37th Sitges Film Festival for Vital (2004). In addition to his own filmmaking, Tsukamoto has acted for other directors, including featured roles in Silence (2016) by Martin Scorsese and Shin Godzilla (2016) by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi.


Yuko Hakota

Yuko Hakota

Blue Hour

Born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1982, Hakota graduated from Tokyo University of Arts’ Fine Arts program in 2005 and started her career directing television commercials. Blue Hour is her feature film debut.


Nanako Hirose

Nanako Hirose

His Lost Name

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1987, Hirose joined Hirokazu Kore-eda’s production company BUN-BUKU in 2011 after graduating from Musashino Art University. She worked on Kore-eda’s TV drama Going Home (2012), features Like Father, Like Son (2013), Our Little Sister (2015), After The Storm (2016) and Miwa Nishikawa’s The Long Excuse (2016). His Lost Name is her feature film debut.


Kaho

Kaho

Blue Hour

Born in Tokyo in 1991, Kaho debuted in 2003 with her first leading role in A Gentle Breeze in the Village (2007), for which she received the Newcomer awards at the Japan Academy Awards and the Houchi Film Awards. She has since become known as a talented actress for TV and film. Her filmography includes Utatama (2008), Our Little Sister (2015), Yocho: Foreboding (2017), My Friend ‘A’ (2018) and The Antique (2018).


Atsushi Kasezawa

Atsushi Kasezawa

A Step Forward

Born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1976, Kasezawa made Aozora (2001) about an open-air kindergarten for his senior project at the Film School of Tokyo, awarded 2nd place at the largest documentary festival run by university students. Before joining Documentary Japan, Inc. in 2002, he worked as assistant director for Makoto Sato (Living on the River Agano). As a TV director he’s made numerous programs featuring young people committed to social change and preserving nature.


Yota Kawase

Yota Kawase

Being Natural, The Kamagasaki Cauldron War

Born in Sapporo in 1969, Kawase started his career as an assistant director and switched to acting with director Shozin Fukui’s Rubber’s Lover (1996). He met director Takahisa Zeze on the set of director Kenji Fukuma’s Suddenly Arriving (1995) and went on to work with him on many pink films. Since then, his vast filmography has included V-cinema, independent films, commercial films and television. His filmography includes Shin Godzilla (2016), Bangkok Nites (2017), The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine (2018), and blank13 (2018).


Bilal Kawazoe

Bilal Kawazoe

WHOLE

Born in Kobe, Kawazoe graduated from Visual Arts College Osaka. His graduation project Nami To Tomoni (2016) was accepted into the Nara International Film Festival, Pia Film Festival and was also screened at the Short Film Corner at Cannes. After graduating, he worked under numerous film directors including Naomi Kawase and Ida Panahandeh. WHOLE (2019) is his second short film.


Usman Kawazoe

Usman Kawazoe

WHOLE

Born and raised in Kobe, Kawazoe began his career as a content creator on Vine. After moving to Tokyo, he started work as a director and photographer for media companies and major brands. He made his screenwriting debut with WHOLE. Currently, he works as a freelance producer and continues his passion for photography.


Aya Kitai

Aya Kitai

Demolition Girl

Born in Tokyo in 1996, Kitai was the Sakurada awardee of Miss iD 2017 Fantasista. For her role in Demolition Girl, she received the Acting Award Honorable Mention from the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival. She has starred in Sunny: Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai (2018) and The Sacrament (2018). As a model, she recently worked with photographer Seiichi Uozumi to exhibit and publish Monthly Aya Kitai (2018).


Genta Matsugami

Genta Matsugami

Demolition Girl

Born in Hiroshima Prefecture in 1981, Matsugami graduated from the Video Concept Planning Department at the Osaka University of the Arts. His graduation film, Sanketsu no Umi, won the audience award at Pia Film Festival in 2005. In 2012, he founded 16 bit.inc., a creative production company that mainly produces television commercials, video packages and music videos. Demolition Girl is his second feature film.


Natsuki Mieda

Natsuki Mieda

Being Natural

An actress and model, Mieda graduated Kyoto Seika University with a degree in Japanese film. While working at a small theater she also worked as a model for fashion shows (Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Junko Koshino, etc.) and commercials (Nikkei, Cecile, Pal System, etc.). She has starred in Karakuri Circus (originally written by Kazuhiro Fujita), director Masato Harada’s Chronicle of my Mother (2011), and Masayuki Ochiai’s SHUTTER (2008).


Ayaka Miyoshi

Ayaka Miyoshi

Dance With Me

Born in Saitama Prefecture in 1996, Miyoshi has worked as a model since 2004 and debuted with her first leading actress role in Leaving on the 15th Spring (2012). She has also starred in Confessions (2010), ONE PIECE FILM: GOLD (2016) and Inuyashiki (2018). Miyoshi was selected as the 2010 Miss Seventeen by the fashion magazine Seventeen, and has since worked as their exclusive model. She is a former member of the idol group Sakura Gakuen.


Tadashi Nagayama

Tadashi Nagayama

Being Natural

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1983, Nagayama graduated Tokyo Polytechnic University with a degree in filmmaking. His first feature film as a director, Tobi-hi (2012), was selected for the Pia Film Festival. His second feature film, Journey of the Tortoise (2016), was selected for the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in 2017 and won the Off-Theater Competition Grand-Prize. He currently works as a commercial director and cinematographer.


Hiroshi Okuyama

Hiroshi Okuyama

Jesus, Tokyo 21st October

Born in Tokyo in 1996, Okuyama is a Japanese filmmaker, cinematographer, screenwriter and editor. He began his career as a film director when he was still in high school. He first received critical acclaim in 2014 for his music video “GRADUATION PARTY!!!!!” which premiered at the Kyoto International Film Festival. From 2017, he focused on cinematography, which led him to being invited to various film festivals. Jesus is his debut feature film.


Kai Hoshino Sandy

Kai Hoshino Sandy

WHOLE

Sandy is an actor and filmmaker born and raised in Japan. After training in theater at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, he moved to Tokyo where he kicked off his film career with a supporting role in Hitoshi Ohne’s Tornado Girl (2017). He recently starred in Mackenzie Sheppard’s Butterfly, to be released June 2019. Currently, he is working on two Japanese major motion pictures and has been cast as a supporting role in the upcoming NHK Taiga series Idaten.


Makoto Sasaki

Makoto Sasaki

NIGHT CRUISING

Born in 1975, Sasaki’s first documentary film Fragment came out in 2006 and achieved a long run of three years including screenings in the U.S. and Germany. Other titles include INNERVISION (2013), MINORITIES AND SEX: STRICTLY PERSONAL WAY OF LOVE (2015), See the Light (2018), A Kid on the Alley of Atami is included in the omnibus film Play Room (2018). Many of his works focus on the boundaries between the majority and the minority.


Eun-kyung Shim

Eun-kyung Shim

Blue Hour, The Journalist

Born in South Korea in 1994, Shim debuted as a child actress in multiple South Korean and Japanese dramas and films between 2004-06. After beginning her acting career and entering high school in Seoul, Shim moved to the States and finished high school in New York’s Professional Children’s School in 2013. Shim won eight awards for her role as a 74-year-old in the body of a 20-year-old in the festival circuit break-out hit Miss Granny (2014).


Macoto Tezka

Macoto Tezka

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers

Born in Tokyo in 1961 as the eldest son of manga artist Osamu Tezuka, Tezka (born Makoto Tezuka) began making films in high school and won a prize for his debut 8mm short at the age of seventeen. Since his feature debut The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (1985), his films have traveled to film festivals in Venice, Tokyo, Busan, Latin America and the Middle East, and had theatrical runs in France.


Toshiaki Toyoda

Toshiaki Toyoda

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan

Born in Osaka in 1969, Toyoda participated in the Shogi League Encouragement Meetings (Shorei-kai) from age 9 to 17. He used these experiences to script Junji Sakamoto’s Checkmate (1991), and continued to work with the director on several films. His own directorial debut Pornostar (1998), starring Koji “Junia” Chihara, won several awards that year in the festival circuit, and his manga-to-film adaptation Blue Spring (2002) became a mega-hit. His filmography also includes I’M FLASH! (2012) and CROWS: EXPLODE (2014). Recipient of the CUT ABOVE Award in 2013.


Shinobu Yaguchi

Shinobu Yaguchi

Dance With Me

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1967, Yaguchi started shooting 8mm films after entering Tokyo Polytechnic University. With a Pia Film Festival scholarship awarded for The Rain Women (1990), which he made in collaboration with Takuji Suzuki (director of Randen), Yaguchi made his first feature film Down the Drain in 1993. The release of Waterboys in 2001 secured him an international fanbase and reputation for cynical, sharp-witted comedies.

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September 2020

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