Amiko © AMIKO Film Partners
Japan Society announces “Amiko“ directed by Yusuke Morii as the winner of the third Obayashi Prize at JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film. The film is selected from titles within Next Generation—the festival’s sole competitive section introduced in 2020 dedicated to independently produced narrative feature films from emerging filmmakers in Japan.
The festival’s only juried section, Next Generation awards the Obayashi Prize to the most accomplished title as determined by a jury of industry professionals. This year’s distinguished jurors are: critic and essayist Moeko Fujii; Dan Sullivan, programmer at Film at Lincoln Center; and distributor Pearl Chan (Good Move Media, Kani Releasing). The jury remarks:
“As Amiko peeks into calligraphy class watching other children practice discipline and character building, they play a game of who can spot her first. She is too much, too loud; she cannot be held inside the lines and there is no language to describe her. This is where the vivid auditory and visual world of the film rushes in to sketch the perspective of a child who, in her attempts to grieve, seems to only aggravate and upset those around her. Among a selection of films interested in the non-normative, Amiko stands out in its use of the surreal as a comfort, while not losing sight of the inner-lives of those looking at and after those we don’t really understand. A fantastic performance by young Kana Osawa in Yusuke Morii’s first feature.”
The jury also recognises director/actor Hiroki Kono’s directorial debut “J005311” with a Special Mention for “its considerable formal ambition and willingness to challenge us as viewers. Made with a profound sense of economy– both in terms of its restrained yet complex execution, but also its maximization of clearly limited means– it manages to give us a gripping, intimate and provocative filmic ride.”
Named after the late filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi (1938-2020), the award was created to acknowledge Obayashi’s legacy and to encourage the continued development of Japanese independent cinema through the festival’s Next Generation section. The winner will receive a trophy and monetary award of $3,000 (USD). This year’s iteration of the Next Generation section is comprised of six titles: Hiroki Kono’s “J005311,” Yusuke Morii’s “Amiko,” Yurina Kaneko’s “People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind,” Aimi Natsuto’s “Saga Saga,” Ryohei Sasatani’s “Sanka: Nomads of the Mountain” and Yuho Ishibashi’s “When Morning Comes, I Feel Empty.”