Press Release June 6, 2019

Award Winners of the 19th Nippon Connection Film Festival
Emotional Award Ceremony / New Record of More Than 17,000 Visitors


After six days and numerous sold-out events, the 19th Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection ended on June 2, 2019 with an attendance record of more than 17,000 visitors. At seven venues in Frankfurt, the festival screened around 100 short and feature films from Japan while also offering a supporting program of more than 50 events. In addition, over 70 filmmakers and artists traveled all the way from Japan in order to personally introduce their works to the audience.

The closing of the festival was celebrated with an emotional award ceremony at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm. Director and actor Shinya Tsukamoto received the Nippon Honor Award. In a moving laudation, author Tom Mes praised the work of this exceptional artist. The award, which is not endowed with any prize money, was given out for the fifth time and honors personalities who have made an outstanding contribution to Japanese cinema. At the Nippon Connection Festival, Tsukamoto’s films Killing, Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tokyo Fist were shown on the big screen.

This year’s Nippon Cinema Award, an audience award, went to Fly Me To The Saitama by Hideki Takeuchi. The high-tempo comedy was already a box office hit in Japan and has now officially converted German audiences. The award, endowed with 2,000 euros, was donated for the 15th time by Bankhaus Metzler from Frankfurt am Main. Representative Gerhard Wiesheu announced the continuation of their support for next year at the award ceremony.

For the first time, only fictional feature films were nominated in the competitions for the Nippon Visions section. The Nippon Visions Jury Award went to Sea by Kensei Takahashi. In his feature debut, the director deals with complex questions of guilt and atonement. In his youth, Hiroshi witnesses the rape of a girl from his class. Several years later, he confronts the perpetrators with their crime. The winning film was chosen by an international jury: Katja Wiederspahn (Viennale program coordinator), Tetsuya Shibutani (film scholar) and Eric Nyari (producer). The jury lauded the director’s will to take risks as well as the technical perfection of the film. Visibly moved, director Kensei Takahashi received the award together with his two producers Yoshiki Natori and Taichi Tamura. The prize, a subtitling for the director’s next film, is supported by the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) from Tokyo.

The jury also gave an honorary mention to Blue Hour by Yuko Hakota, emphasizing the strong female characters in the film as well as the performances of the two leading actresses.

The Nippon Visions Audience Award was given to Melancholic by Seiji Tanaka. The award, sponsored by the Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachzentrum e.V. in Frankfurt am Main, is endowed with 1,000 euros. Tanaka apologized for his casual outfit, since he had not expected to win and have to go on stage, given all the other great films in the section. He expressed his special gratitude to the audience for asking so many interesting questions in the Q&A session after his screening.

The Nippon Docs Award, an audience award sponsored by Nikon and endowed with 1,000 euros, was given out for the first time this year and went to Sending Off by Ian Thomas Ash. This is already the third Nippon Connection award for the US-born filmmaker living in Japan. For his latest documentary, he accompanied a group of doctors and nurses giving hospice home care in rural regions of Japan. He thanked the doctors as well as the patients and their families, who had allowed him to film them during their most difficult times.

After the award ceremony, the festival closed with the film Ramen Shop by Eric Khoo, which will have its official release in German cinemas on June 6.

More films which were screened at the festival that can be seen in selected cinemas over the next few weeks throughout the Rhein-Main region in the context of the thematic focus on Outlaws and Outsiders. Dates will be announced soon on the festival’s website:

The date for the 20th Nippon Connection Film Festival is already set: from June 9 to 14, 2020 the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and the Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle will once more become centers for Japanese cinema and culture.

The Organizers

The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is organized on a primarily voluntary basis by the more than 70 members of the non-profit Nippon Connection registered association. The festival is under the patronage of Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main, and the Consul General of Japan in Frankfurt am Main.