Press Release May 29, 2017

Award Ceremony of the 17th Nippon Connection Film Festival
Two competition films by female filmmakers and one sociocritical drama receive this year's awards


After six days with around 100 short and feature length films from Japan, the 17th Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection in Frankfurt am Main ended on 28 May 2017. Around 16,500 visitors found their way to the festival centers Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle as well as six other locations last week. Many film screenings, concerts, and workshops were rapidly sold out, which can be contributed not the least to the more than 100 guests. Directors, actors, producers, and artists from Japan and all over the world had come to present their works to the audience.

The festival was crowned by the award ceremony on the last day of the festival at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm. After the ceremony, the closing film The Emperor in August by Masato HARADA featuring Nippon Honor Awardee Koji YAKUSHO was screened to an enthusiastic audience in a sold-out cinema.

The Nippon Cinema Award, an audience award, went to director Miwa NISHIKAWA and her film The Long Excuse. With precise observation and biting humor, the director and scriptwriter tells the story of a reckless egomaniac and his way to catharsis. The prize, which is endowed with 2,000 Euro and was given out for the 13th time, is sponsored by Bankhaus Metzler from Frankfurt am Main.

The Nippon Visions Audience Award went to Start Line by Ayako IMAMURA. In this documentary road movie the filmmaker, who was born deaf, explores not only Japan and its people but also herself. The award is endowed with 1,000 Euro and sponsored by the Japanese Center for Culture and Language (Japanisches Kultur- und Sprachzentrum e.V.) in Frankfurt am Main.

The winner of the Nippon Visions Jury Award is Hirobumi WATANABE. In his drama Poolsideman, he dives into the inner life of a stoic loner in long, hypnotic takes and aesthetic black-and-white photography. The decision was made by the three members of the Nippon Visions Jury: Nobuhiro YAMASHITA (director of the films My Uncle and Over the Fence), Yuka SAKANO (Kawakita Memorial Film Institute, Tokyo) and Bastian Meiresonne (film curator, Festival International des Cinémas d’Asie de Vesoul). In their statement, they pointed out that the film Poolsideman showed a dark side of contemporary Japanese society while still being universal. Taking the audience into its grip by an uncanny fascination, the film, even with its minimal structure, had an immense depth. The award, a subtitling for the director's next film, was sponsored by the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) from Tokyo for the eighth time.

The Nippon Visions Jury also gave a special mention to Going the Distance by Yujiro HARUMOTO. The film was sensitive, beautifully written and executed as well as characterized by extraordinary performances from the main cast. With the special mention for his debut film, the jury would like to encourage the director Yujiro HARUMOTO to continue his work and develop further projects.

The Nippon Honor Award ceremony with Japanese star actor Koji YAKUSHO was the glamorous final highlight of the festival. Sponsored by Japan Airlines and honoring personalities that have made outstanding contributions to Japanese cinema, the Nippon Honor Award was given out for the third time. Koji YAKUSHO accepted the award personally and expressed his gratitude to the festival organizers for their tireless commitment to Japanese film.

Nippon Connection will take place for the 18th time next year, the date is already fixed: from 29 May until 3 June 2018 Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle will again become the center of Japanese film culture.