ACA Cinema Project Series – Emerging Japanese Films Provided 5 Days of Screenings and Panels Image

The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan (ACA) hosted the fourth ACA Cinema Project series – Emerging Japanese Films – as a key part of its Japan Film Overseas Expansion Enhancement Project. The event took place from September 27th – October 1st  at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Hollywood. The Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO) was entrusted with enterprise management. The program attracted hundreds of industry shakers and movers and screened four newly released, dramatic, and awards-worthy Japanese feature films. In addition, the celebration held a retrospective night that honored veteran auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda. Four of the directors, including Kore-eda, took the stage virtually post-exhibition Q&A sessions. 

The series opened with Shinzo Katayama’s Missing – which recently took Fantasia 2022 by storm,  on Tuesday, September 27th. Film Threat’s Chris Gore moderated, alongside director Katayama and the film’s distributor Michael Repsch of Dark Star Pictures.

VIPO director Yuko Yamada, distributor Michael Repsch, and moderator Chris Gore

Unfurling on Wednesday, September 28th, was Shunsuke Kariyama’s BL Metamorphosis (based on the smash-hit, coming-of-age manga franchise). Director Kariyama beamed in to join a live panel debating “Full Frontal Fandom: Fascinating Depictions of  Manga Fans in BL Metamorphosis .” Hollywood pundits include moderator and producer/journalist Marlene Sharp (Young Captain Nemo), screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick (Samurai Rabbit: Usagi Chronicles), producer Vincent Imaoka (Tiger and Bunny), producer Geneva Wasserman (Spiderhead), producer Kevin Nicklaus (Untold Horror), and screenwriter/podcaster/author Geoffrey Calhoun (The Successful Screenwriter). 

The tribute evening with Japanese virtuoso director Hirokazu Kore-eda was held on Thursday, September 29th. A live-streamed video conversation between Kore-eda and Alan Ng, Editor-in-Chief of Film Threat and Critics Choice Association member, was held after a showing of his acclaimed 2013 movie Like Father, Like Son. Kore-eda, welcomed by the US audience,  received a loud standing ovation.  

Life Father, Like Son director Hirokazu Kore-eda

Friday, September 30th, the emotional journey of Riverside Mukolitta, a quietly touching endeavor of renowned filmmaker *Naoko Ogigami, was shown, followed by the panel discussion “Riverside Mukolitta: How Asian drama can be relatable to American audiences.” Alan Ng hosted the conversation, which boasted Metan Global’s Larry Namer, plus veteran producers Jennie Lew Tugend (Lethal Weapon, Free Willy), Jinko Gotoh (Klaus, Finding Nemo), and Chuck Williams (Sonic the Hedgehog, Brother Bear). Due to scheduling conflicts, director Ogigami was unable to appear.

Panelists Jinko Gotoh, Jennie Lew Tugend, Chuck Williams, and moderator Alan Ng

On Saturday, October 1st, ACA Cinema Project closed with Shô Miyake’s sensitive Small, Slow But Steady (a crowd-pleaser at this year’s Berlin Film Festival) paired with the  panel discussion entitled “Beyond Boundaries: Taking on Challenging Acting Roles.” Tackling this subject were motion picture director Miyake,  along with Leslie LaPage (Director, LA Femme International Film Festival), and accomplished casting director/talent manager Valerie McCaffrey.

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