Takeo Hisamatsu joined Shochiku Co., Ltd in 1978, and in 1986 became manager of Shochiku USA’s Little Tokyo Cinema, Los Angeles. He returned to Tokyo in 1989 and was appointed senior manager of the Exhibition Department. In 1994, he joined Time Warner Entertainment Japan as General Director of the Theatrical Distribution Department, Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. In 2001, he rejoined Shochiku as Director of the Theatrical Distribution Department, Production and Acquisition, and became an Executive Managing Director in 2003. He was named president of what is now Shochiku Broadcasting Co., Ltd. in 2006, and in 2010 rejoined Warner Entertainment Japan Inc. as Deputy General Manager of Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. In 2015, he established his own company, My Way Movies, where he serves as president. Over the past several years, Hisamatsu has participated in the production of such renowned films as Unforgiven (2013, directed by Lee Sang-il), Rurouni Kenshin (2012, Keishi Ohtomo), Air Doll (2009, Hirokazu Kore-eda), Dear Doctor (2009, Miwa Nishikawa), Still Walking (2008, Hirokazu Kore-eda), All Around Us (2008, Ryosuke Hashiguchi) and Love and Honor | Bushi no ichibun (2006, Yoji Yamada).
CFM: You are appointed as the new Festival Director of the Tokyo International Film Festival, please share your comment with us.
TH: It is a great honor to be appointed as Festival Director of the Tokyo International Film Festival. I follow in the footsteps of many distinguished figures who have filled this same position in the past as Chairman and Director General, which adds great weight and responsibility to this new role, and so I assume it with a sense of solemnity.
The world of film is indeed wide-ranging and diverse. It is a vast world; films vary in their country of origin, they vary in theme, some are more auteur-driven, some are more entertainment-focused, and they come in a multitude of genres, from drama to comedy to anime. It is my hope that through this festival, we can continue to present these films in all their diversity and richness to many audiences, and that we can share our enthusiasm for watching films.
CFM: What is the Vision and mission of 30th edition of TIFF? What are the highlights of TIFF this year? What special events are planned to celebrate it?
TH: The Tokyo International Film Festival will take place from October 25 – November 3, 2017 and is marking its 30th anniversary this year. Our TIFF 30 Vision encapsulates our commitment to share the joys of cinema, propel exchange between film professionals, and cultivate a future for film.
As part of our efforts to reach an expanded audience, this year TIFF is adding three new programs to its calendar: the Midnight Film Festival, Cinema Arena 30 and the Godzilla Cinema Concerts. The Midnight Film Festival is an all-night 6-screen event; Cinema Arena 30 is a series of about 30 film screenings in the Roppongi Hills Arena throughout the festival run; and the Godzilla Cinema Concerts are screenings of the original Godzilla, accompanied by a live orchestra.
We are also highlighting the work of four iconic actresses in this year’s Japan Now section as one of the special programs planned to celebrate our 30th anniversary. Sakura ANDO, Yu AOI, Hikari MITSUSHIMA and Aoi MIYAZAKI have been chosen as the Muses of Japan Now Silver Screen in honor of the powerful sparks they generate, their collaborations with renowned directors and their increasing international stature.
Also, TIFF is pleased to announce that we will be highlighting the work of Keiichi HARA, who has won awards at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival with his recent works Colorful and Miss Hokusai, in this year’s Animation Focus section. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Japanese animation, as well as TIFF’s 30th anniversary edition, and to celebrate both milestones, Hara has been chosen in honor of his exceptional body of work. He is renowned for his ability to combine a strong auteurist approach with commercial appeal, and his increased international recognition has given him a prominent role in both current and future anime culture.
Moreover, celebrating this milestone year, TIFF has also unveiled colorful key visuals featuring Mika NINAGAWA’s photography. Artwork decorating the venues will be especially vibrant in comparison with past editions.
CFM: From your almost 40-year experience working in both Japan and Hollywood, what is your thoughts on the cooperation between Japanese and western film industries?
TH: To be honest, I think it may be difficult for Japanese film companies to collaborate comfortably with Western film companies, due to the huge gap between them in terms of production and budget scales. However, in Japan, manga culture has been nurtured, and I think one approach would be to utilize existing IP to create new films and remakes. Because there are plenty of “seeds” for movies in terms of ideas in Japan, it could be a good combination to bring those seeds to fruition using Hollywood’s capital and technology as well.
CFM: What is the difference between western and local film market?
TH: If “Western” here means Hollywood, I feel a clear difference. In my opinion, American film market is basically commercial. There is even a phrase, “culture as commodity,” and it seems to define a world that considers films as business only. Meanwhile, Japan is still pursuing both business and culture within the film industry.
Also looking at the Japanese market, approximately half of the films released in Japan are from foreign countries, mainly the U.S.; while in the U.S., most of the films are domestic. I think this is the big difference between the two markets.
CFM: How should Asian films enhance its influence worldwide?
TH: I believe Asian films can be influential worldwide by utilizing unique ideas and/or creative expression, because it is difficult to compete against Hollywood financially.
By strengthening cultural and business communications throughout Asia, I think that our influence will expand and eventually lead to stronger markets.
Both Japan and China are in Asia, and are also culturally close. By collaborating on movies and introducing movies from different countries in the region, we can form a good commercial area for film business in Asia, which will raise our presence. Because the population of Asia as a whole is large, I think there is good potential in the Asian market.
CFM: What do you think is the key to the success of a film festival?
TH: Film festivals exist to provide a time and place to share in the allure and delights of cinema. We at TIFF aim to program a rich and diverse lineup, and to create a festive event with widespread appeal. We hope many will come to participate in and enjoy the festival.
TIFF is also strengthening its collaboration with its TIFFCOM content market, which is moving to a new venue in Ikebukuro this year. TIFF aims to contribute to the development and expansion of film not just as a culture, but also as an industry.
CFM: You participated in this year’s Japanese Film Week in Shanghai International Film Festival. How do you think of the cooperation and communication between Chinese and Japanese film industry in recent years?
TH: First of all, participating in this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival, and actually seeing that more than 50 Japanese films were screened, I was very surprised and impressed by the number and the popularity of Japanese films.
TIFF and the Shanghai International Film Festival have a partnership, cooperating especially on programming and invited guests, and I believe our collaboration has been very close in recent years.
Moreover, Japan-China co-productions have been increasing, including Legend of the Demon Cat, which was first announced at last year’s TIFF and which will screen some footage as an opening special this year. I feel the communication between Japanese and Chinese filmmakers is active and this trend should only accelerate.
CFM: Which Chinese film is your favorite?
TH: Farewell My Concubine and The Road Home are my favorites.
Farewell My Concubine is a beautiful masterpiece, and I think that it should go down in film history. Also, when I watched The Road Home, I was struck by the strong presence of the pure-hearted heroine, played by Zhang Ziyi with such freshness. I was also impressed by Zhang Yimou’s direction, and these two left a strong impression on me personally.
CFM: What Chinese films can be expected in this year’s TIFF?
TH: There are 14 Chinese films this year. OLD BEAST, SOUL INN, THE LOOMING STORM (Competition), LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT, HAVE A NICE DAY, STONEHEAD, THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED, MR. LONG, MADE IN HONG KONG, ALIFU, THE PRINCE/SS, THE GREAT BUDDHA+, MON MON MON MONSTERS, SUPER CITIZEN KO, A FOLEY ARTIST.
( To be filled in after the press conference on September 26)