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Guide To Japanese Film Festivals

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We present a complete guide on Film Festivals in Japan.

Introduction:
The guide was made taking into account film festivals that have their focus on Japanese movies. There are a handful of events focused on foreign countries that we didn’t included in this list.

We managed to index over 21 festivals. 12 are Competitive Festivals, 5 are Non-Competitive and 3 are Biennales. We decided to include the Tokyo Docs which is an international co-production forum for Asian documentaries. As for the main topics we found 1 festival dedicated to Women’s Rights, the Aichi International Women´s Film Festival; 1 centered around Peace, the Hiroshima International Animation Festival; 2 focused on LGBTQ Rights (the Kansai Queer Film Festival and the Rainbow Reel Tokyo); 1 focus on Kids & Youth, the Kineko International Children’s Film Festival; 1 about Historic Films, Kyoto Historica International Film Festival, and 1 for Documentaries, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.

We welcome comments and corrections. If you find it useful and interesting don’t forget to share this article with your friends. Thanks for your continued support and cooperation.

Sebastián Nadilo
(Owner of AFF)

Achilogo2019

Aichi International Women´s Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizers: Aichi Gender Equality Foundation, Aichi International Women’s Film Festival 2018 Steering Committee
Place: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Festival Month: September
Editions: 23rd (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films made by female filmmakers
Theme: Women’s Rights
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Twitter

The Aichi International Women’s Film Festival has supported the advancement of women in society and promoted international exchange between women since its launch in 1996. They screen films directed by female directors, invite world-famous female directors and rising female directors, and hold guest talks and symposium that provide the participants with opportunities to exchange their views and ideas in order to promote the realization of a gender-equal society.

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Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka
Type of Festival: Non-competitive Festival
Organizer: The Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival Executive Committee
Place: Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Festival Month: September
Editions: 28th (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka objective is to promote an understanding of Asia and Asian cultural exchange through motion pictures. To introduce excellent Asian motion pictures to the world and discover and foster new cinematic talent. And to contribute to the creation of a “creative city of entertainment” by putting together new functions and features to promote city activity, business matching events and human resource development. The Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival was launched in 1991 as a major undertaking of “Asian Month” (renamed “Asian Party” in 2013), which began in 1990 to further deepen the circle of cultural exchange with Asia fostered through the “Asian Pacific Exposition”, held in 1989 to commemorate the centennial of the founding of the City of Fukuoka.

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Hiroshima International Animation Festival
Type of Festival: Biennale Competitive Festival
Organizer: International Animation Festival Organizing Committee, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima City Culture Foundation
Place: Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Festival Month: August, 2020
Editions: 17th (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: Animation | Peace
Cash Awards: No
Website
Twitter

Hiroshima International Animation Festival is a biennial manifestation held in Hiroshima City in August, endorsed by Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA). Under the spirit of LOVE & PEACE, the Hiroshima Festival has been dedicating to the advancement of visual media art culture in general, by promoting international cross-cultural exchanges through the development of animation art.

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Image Forum Festival Tokyo
Type of Festival: Non-competitive
Organizer: Image Forum
Place: Tokyo, Kyoto and Yokohama, Japan
Festival Month: September
Editions: 32 (2018)
Screens: Short Films
Theme: Experimental
Cash Awards: Yes
Website

Image Forum Festival is Japan’s largest art film festival, and the largest dedicated to the screening of new experimental films, both in Japan and around the world. It began in 1987 in Tokyo, and includes space for video installations and live performance. It is now held in Tokyo, Kyoto and Yokohama annually, and often includes other cities across Japan. As well as featuring modern domestic and international films, it includes a selection of historical masterpieces.

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Kansai Queer Film Festival
Type of Festival: Non-competitive
Organizer: Kansai Queer Film Festival Executive Committee
Place: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Festival Month: September
Editions: 12 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: LGBTQ Topics
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Kansai Queer Film Festival (KQFF) screens a wide range of films on the themes of gender, sexuality and equality from both Japan and all over the world.

kinekologo2019

Kineko International Children’s Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: E Kou (Programming Director); Hui Heng (Programming Director); Hui Heng (Programming Director)
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: November
Editions: 26 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: Kids Festival
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Kineko International Children’s Film Festival is a non-profit film festival and has become the largest film festival for children in Japan. Every summer, the Festival welcomes over 10,000 children, adults to the screenings, and media professionals, international guests and celebrities attend the Festival to lead interactive workshops with children.

The festival introduces opportunities for Japanese children to experience cinemas around the world, animations, international cultural exchange programs and one of the most unique features, Live Japanese Voice Over performed by professional actors.

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Kyoto Historica International Film Festival
Type of Festival: Non-competitive Festival
Organizer: Kyoto HISTORICA International Film Festival Committee
Place: Kyoto, Japan
Festival Month: October – November
Editions: 10 (2018)
Screens: Feature Films
Theme: Historic Films
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook

The Kyoto Historica Film Festival, is the only film festival created under the unifying theme of “history.” With a cosplay contest, talk session with voice actors and actresses, jidaigeki filmmaking workshop in English, film pitching contest as well as a film screening, KHIFF breaks the mold of traditional film festivals.

KHIFF consists of “Historica Screenings” which offers screenings of some of the latest period films from around the world, “Kyoto Filmmakers’ Lab” which gives young filmmakers from both Japan and abroad the opportunity to experience Jidaigeki filmmaking while working alongside professionals at actual studios in Kyoto and “Kyoto Film Pitching,” a film pitching contest where both amateur and professional filmmakers pitch film ideas for projects in Kyoto, “Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival” which is popular with consumers and cosplayers (costume fanatics) alike.

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Nara International Film Festival
Type of Festival: Biennale Competitive Festival
Organizer: NIFF Organizing Committee
Place: Nara, Japan
Festival Month: October
Editions: 5 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Nara International Film Festival is a biennial film festival held in Nara, Japan. It was started in 2010 by a filmmaker, Naomi Kawase and other locals when it was the 1300th year since Nara had been the capital of Japan. Not only this film festival is held only once every two year, we also conduct many projects to tell the attraction of film include supporting the film making for young director from both inside or outside of Japan, conducting work shop for children and students from overseas and host “Nara cinematheque” screening in Nara city.

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Okinawa International Movie Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Place: Ginowan & Nara, Japan
Festival Month: April
Editions: 10 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: –
Cash Awards: –
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Okinawa International Movie Festival is an annual event held in Ginowan City, and Naha City on the Japanese island of Okinawa Island. The festival was founded by Japanese century-old comedy-entertainment giant Yoshimoto Kogyo in 2009 and focuses on comedy films from around the world, with the theme of “Laugh & Peace”.

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Osaka Asian Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Osaka Executive Committee for the Promotion of Moving Image Culture
Place: Osaka, Japan
Festival Month: March
Editions: 13 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Osaka Asian Film Festival aims to facilitate human resources development and exchange, to invigorate the Osaka economy, and to increase the city’s appeal, through providing opportunities to watch excellent Asian films, supporting filmmaking in Osaka and attracting filmmakers from Asian countries and regions to Osaka. Promoting Osaka worldwide as a gateway city for Asian films, and engaging with many people from the fields of culture, art, education, tourism and business, from Osaka and all of Asia, OAFF works as an open platform to contribute to the development of Osaka and cinema.

pialogo2019

PIA Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer:
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: September
Editions: 40 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: –
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Founded in 1977, Pia Film Festival (PFF) has taken an active role in “finding and nurturing new filmmaking talents”. Pia was launched as a print magazine in 1972 by young people from a university film club, all of whom dreamed of becoming filmmakers. Inspired by the example of Time Out in London, they came up with the idea of publishing a listings magazine which would document all films screening in Tokyo in a given week, complete with the venue locations and the starting times. This idea grew into Pia, a magazine covering not only movies but also theater, concerts and exhibitions: a comprehensive guide to culture and entertainment in the city. The success of the magazine led to the launch of PFF. Pia no longer appears in print, but its success continues as an online resource.

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Rainbow Reel Tokyo
Type of Festival: Non-competitive Festival
Organizer: NPO Rainbow Reel Tokyo, Rainbow Reel Tokyo Committee
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: July
Editions: 27 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: LGBTQ Topics
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook
Twitter

‘Rainbow Reel Tokyo’ is a film festival which screens films with the theme of people who identify as sexual minorities. It was first held in 1992 with the name ‘Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Movie Festival’, and this year will be the 27th.

Rainbow Reel Tokyo does not screen films only about lesbian and gay people, but through the showing of films about people with different sexual minorities such as transgender, intersexual, and bisexual people, it aims to provide space to create a more diverse and free society, and because there is little opportunity for films about sexual minorities to be shown in major film theaters, it also aims to contribute to creating image culture by introducing these films from both Japan and overseas.

While it is a ‘festival’ for people who identify as sexual minorities to enjoy, it is open towards people of all kinds of sexual identities, and it has established itself as a ‘film screening event’ to casually experience the rich culture developed by people of sexual minorities.

sapporologo2019

Sapporo International Short Film Festival and Market
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Executive Committee of SAPPORO Short Fest
Place:Sapporo, Japan
Festival Month: October
Editions: 14 (2018)
Screens: Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Sapporo International Short Film Festival is Japan and Asia`s largest and most respected showcases of short form cinema. The festival offers one of the best opportunities available for filmmakers looking to expose their creative works to large audiences and to submit for appraisal by high profile international jury members in the heart of the burgeoning Asian transnational film scene.

Since its inception in 2006, the festival has received more than 35,000 entries from 141 countries and boasts an average annual festival audience of more than 10,000 film enthusiasts. The high volume of entries each year allows for the curation of an extensive and diverse array of programs of both Japanese and International films of the highest quality in various competitive categories. Selected films are professionally showcased, subtitled in Japanese, and screened in state of the art cinema surrounds.

shortshortslgoo2019

Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer:
Place: Toyko, Japan
Festival Month: June
Editions: 20 (2018)
Screens: Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

SHORTSHORTS is a comprehensive short film brand. It’s film festival, “Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia” (SSFF & ASIA) held since 1999, is accredited by the Academy Awards® and is one of the largest international short film festival in Asia. SHORTSHORTS leads the film culture through various means such as its screening events, film distribution, production and collaboration work with companies and administrative offices.

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Skip City International D-Cinema Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Kawaguchi City, Skip City International D-Cinema Festival Committee, Saitama Audio-Visual Volunteers
Place: Saitama, Japan
Festival Month: July
Editions: 15 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The festival was launched in 2004 in order to discover new talent and develop a new type of audio visual industry and has screened many innovative films from all over the world with high entertainment value that push the envelope of the digital medium.

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Tokyo Anime Award Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Tokyo Anime Award Festival Executive Committee, The Association of Japanese Animation
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: March
Editions:
Screens: Feature & Short Anímate Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: –
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Tokyo Anime Award Festival is held to aim for the discovery and the exploration of new creators, the dissemination of the information to the public and the permanence of animated film culture and history.

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Tokyo FILMex International Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Tokyo FILMex Organizing Committee
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: November
Editions: 19 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The TOKYO FILMex is an international film festival established in 2000. The even was launched by Office Kitano, the agency and production company co-founded by leading actor-filmmaker Takeshi Kitano. TOKYO FILMeX especially focus on new and independent feature films from Asia, a large number of films selected for competition program come from China, Japan, Korea, Iran, etc.

The festival’s main events have been held at Yurakucho, Tokyo in late November annually, consists of the Competition Program, Special screening Program and Filmmakers in focus Program. Alongside the competition program for young emerging Asian filmmakers and other screening programs, stage appearances by actors and symposiums are also planned to discover the masterworks of independent filmmakers from around the world.

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Tokyo International Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer: Tokyo International Film Festival Executive Committee
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: October – November
Editions: 31 (2018)
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme:
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), is the only Japanese film festival accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF). The festival started in 1985 as Japan’s first major film festival. Since then, it has grown to become one of the biggest film festivals in Asia. TIFF seeks out excellent films from around the world and brings them to Tokyo, where filmmakers and film fans can enjoy them, meet emerging filmmakers, and be inspired.

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Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
Type of Festival: Biennale Competitive Festival
Organizer:
Place: Yamagata, Japan
Festival Month: October
Editions: 15 (2017)
Screens: Feature and Short Documentaries
Theme: Documentaries
Cash Awards: No
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Located in a verdant, rolling valley far north of Tokyo, Yamagata City is the site for Asia’s first international documentary film festival. The first Film Festival (in 1989) was an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Yamagata City, the sponsor of the festival at the time, and has been held biennially ever since in Yamagata’s best season, October. The atmosphere of the festival is intimate, and affords Asian filmmakers a prime opportunity to meet with their Western counterparts. The reasons for it being a magnet for independent filmmakers are simple.

Until recently, the week-long YIDFF was one of the few film festivals in Asia devoted exclusively to the documentary form. Its scope, however, reaches beyond simply screening recent, ground-breaking work in the International Competition. New Asian Currents, the competition program introducing emerging filmmakers from across Asia, has over the years become one of the Festival’s vibrant centers of attention as a meeting place of raw youthful energy. By featuring special events and programs shedding light on the history and diversity of filmmaking, the YIDFF is working hard to create a new forum for the production of alternative, independent, non-fiction film and the discussion of documentary as a form of expression.

Yubarilogo2019

Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival
Type of Festival: Competitive Festival
Organizer:
Place: Yubari, Japan
Festival Month: March
Editions:
Screens: Feature & Short Films
Theme: Fantastic Films
Cash Awards: –
Website
Facebook
Twitter

The Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival (Yubari Fanta) is one of the first festivals held in a resort-like environment. Founded in 1990, it has its 26th edition this year. We aim not only to promote films but also to interact locals, filmmakers and cinephiles from around the world with delicious foods of Hokkaido, skiing or snowboarding.

Special Mention

Tokyodocslogo2019
Tokyo Docs
Type of Event: Forum on Documentary Co-Production
Organizer: Tokyo Docs Organizing Committee
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Festival Month: November
Editions: 8 (2018)
Screens: Documentaries
Theme: –
Cash Awards: Yes
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Tokyo Docs gave its first launch in 2011 as an international co-production forum that introduces exceptional documentary projects to the world. It offers the networking opportunities between filmmakers and decision makers to realize the production, broadcasting and distribution of documentary projects. It is now widely known among filmmakers in Japan as well as international documentary professionals and enjoys heightening recognition as an event that attracts high-quality project proposals.

So what do you think? Did we miss any? Please let us know in the comment section. Thanks for your time.

* Important: Information from the festivals was taken from the official websites & Wikipedia profiles. Logos used here are owned by the festivals and were used only for promotional and educational purpose. *
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