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Award winners of the 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival

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Honor award for Masatoshi Nagase / Jury award for unconventional high-school drama / Audience awards for heartwarming family drama, story of disabled lovers, and documentary about Kurdish refugees in Japan



After six days and numerous sold-out events, the 22nd Nippon Connection Film Festival in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, ended on Sunday, May 29th 2022 with a grand award ceremony. At twelve venues, the festival screened around 100 short and feature films from Japan while also offering a supporting program of more than 60 events. About 25 filmmakers and artists from Japan traveled all the way from Japan, despite Covid-19-related difficulties, to personally present their works to the audience. With about 15,000 visitors, the first on-site festival in three years almost repeated its pre-pandemic success. Audience, professional visitors and guests from Japan were overjoyed to finally come together again.

Until June 6, film enthusiasts can still watch 32 feature-length and 19 short films of this year’s festival edition online under the title Nippon Connection On Demand. The VOD offer is available in Germany only. Every film costs 5 Euros and can be started after the payment during a period of five days and then be watched during a period of 24 hours. All films and information are available on Watch.NipponConnection.com

The closing of the festival was celebrated with an award ceremony in Künstlerhaus Mousonturm on May 29. Actor Masatoshi Nagase, who joined live from Japan, received this year’s Nippon Honor Award. The honor award was given out for the sixth time and honors outstanding personalities for their special contributions to Japanese cinema. Director and companion Jim Jarmusch surprised the awardee in a video message. At the Nippon Connection Film Festival, Nagase could be seen in the films Talking The Pictures, They Say Nothing Stays The Same, Under The Stars, Just The Two Of Us, A Madder Red, Just Remembering and Mystery Train.

The Nippon Visions Jury Award was given to the unconventional highschool drama Unlock Your Heart by female director Rin Shuto (born 1995). The international jury, consisting of Gaby Babić (managing and artistic director, Kinothek Asta Nielsen), Erina Ito (journalist) and Adam Torel (distributor and producer, Third Window Films), lauded the surprising, complex characters that go beyond gender clichés, as well as the rhythm and editing of the film. The prize, a subtitling for the director's next film, is sponsored by the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) in Tokyo for the twelfth time. Let Me Hear It Barefoot by director Riho Kudo received a special mention. The jury praised the subtle, unique and flowing narration as well as the great use of sound, editing and the directing.

 

The audience could vote for three audience awards. The seventeenth Nippon Cinema Award, sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt am Main and endowed with 2,000 Euros, went to the heartwarming family drama The Asadas. Director Ryota Nakano was inspired by the photo books of the Japanese photographer Masashi Asada, who gained fame through his unique portraits of family members.

For the Nippon Docs Award, the audience chose the documentary Tokyo Kurds. The young protagonists belong to the about 2,000 Kurds living in Japan. Having been refused refugee status for years, Ozan and Ramazan still hope for a work permit, a college spot, and a normal life. Director Fumiari Hyuga offers a moving comment on Japan's rigid refugee policy. The award, endowed with a prize money of 1,000 Euros, was given out for the third time this year.

Just The Two Of Us by Keita Fujimoto received the eighth Nippon Visions Audience Award. The intense love story of blind Hanae and Shunsaku, who has been paralyzed from the neck down, was created by students of the Kyoto University of the Arts. Nippon Honor Award winner Masatoshi Nagase stars as the protagonist. The award is sponsored by Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachenzentrum in Frankfurt and is endowed with 1,000 Euros.

Festival director Marion Klomfass expressed her gratitude to all the supporters, sponsors and cooperation partners of the festival, as well as to the over 70-member, largely voluntary, festival team. The 23rd Nippon Connection Film Festival will take place from June 6 to 11, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main.

Besides the Nippon Connection On Demand program, the TV dramas How to be Likable in a Crisis and To Heal the Heart will be available for free until June 30 in cooperation with NHK WORLD-JAPAN. The festival also continues in the virtual Nippon Online Market on NipponConnection.com. Numerous exhibitors are still presenting a variety of Japan-related food, books, films, bicycles and more.

More festival films from the thematic focus “Stories Of Youth – Coming Of Age In Japan” will be screened during the upcoming months in the Rhine-Maine area. The dates will be published on the festival’s website: NipponConnection.com

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. Since its founding in 2000, Nippon Connection has become the world’s largest platform for Japanese cinema and the most popular film festival in Hesse.

 

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Chatelin Bruno
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