German filmmaking legend Wim Wenders will head up this year’s competition jury for the Tokyo International Film Festival, organizers announced on Monday.
Wenders is currently riding high — and his long-running artistic connections to Japan are more apparent than ever. The director’s most recent feature, Perfect Days, recently premiered at Cannes in competition and was widely hailed as his finest fiction film in years. An intimate character study following a middle-aged Tokyo man who has pared his life down to a routine of service and small pleasures, it won Cannes best actor prize for its inimitable lead, veteran Japanese character actor Koji Yakusho. The News84Media‘s critic summed up the film as simply, “ineffably lovely.”
Over a 55-year career in film, Wenders, now 77, has won many of world cinema’s highest honors, including the Golden Lion for The State of Things at the Venice Film Festival (1982); the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival for Paris, Texas; and Best Director for Wings of Desire at Cannes in 1987. He is also a three-time Oscar nominee in the best documentary feature category, for Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Pina (2011) and The Salt of the Earth (2014). This year at Cannes Wenders also unveiled another accomplished feature doc, Anselma portrait of the great German artist Anselm Kiefer.
Wender’s ties to Japan stretch back to at least 1985, when he created the acclaimed
documentary Tokyo-ga, an homage to the classic Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, whom Wenders has long declared as his cinematic hero. This year marks the 120-anniversary of Ozu’s birth. To mark the occasion, the Tokyo festival will hold a special screening section, which will be hosted by Wenders.
Wenders first screened a film at the Tokyo festival in 1985 with his Palme d’Or winner Paris, Texas, which appeared in the event’s Festival of Festivals section. He returned in 1991 with Until the End of the Worldand later served as the event’s Young Cinema Competition’s jury president in 1993, along with jurors including producer Claudie Ossard and novelist Paul Auster.
“I’m excited to be back at the Tokyo International Film Festival,” Wenders said in a statement. “I only have the best memories of my first jury presence — and the jury members from that time are still in touch, still calling each other ‘Claudie-san’‘ and ‘Paul-san‘ and ‘Wim-san.’ For this festival, happening 60 years after the death and therefore 120 years after Ozu’s birthday, my declared master, makes the occasion very special to me.”
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