Well, the festival came to a fantastic close last night with our closing night film, ‘Out at the Wedding’, with two of its fierce and fabulous stars -- real-life girlfriends Kathy DeBuono and Jill Bennett -- in attendance.
This year’s festival was a huge success -- the biggest yet, with the most films we have ever screened, the most fabulous international guests we have ever hosted, 8 days of screenings, and nearly 8,000 visitors (more than double that of Tokyo Pride). But just because the festival is over doesn’t mean this blog has come to an end. I was at the festival virtually non-stop this weekend, taking in more than 8 programs of films, and talking to as many guests as my stamina (and, in some cases, the availability of a Japanese translator) would permit. So I have a huge backlog of stories to prepare for the blog, which I will be serving out to you in a tantalizing trickle as the week goes on.
Here’s some of what you can expect to read about in the coming days…
LGBT Youth Exchange Project
Remember that group of 16 youth who attended our opening screening (‘Were the World Mine’) for free, at the request of the director, Thomas Gustafson, and with the help of an anonymous donor? My interview with Inoue Yuko of the LGBT Youth Exchange Project will expand your understanding. You can also attend their special public event taking place on August 24th at Yoyogi’s Olympic Centre.
This week, it’s time to make up for our lack of coverage of women’s and Asian films. We get a good start on both with ‘Drifting Flowers’! I’ll have a transcript of the Q & A session with Taiwanese director Zero Chou and her producing partner (as well as life -partner) Hoho Liu, and interviews with the film’s two beautiful young leads -- Chao Li-yan and Serena Fang.
‘Strange Couples’ & ‘Moon Shadow’
Q & A session with the directors and stars of these two great Japanese short films that screened together on Sunday, as well as interviews with the director (Matsumoto Takuya) and two stars (Takahashi Kanimaru & Ito Asuka) of ‘Strange Couples’.
‘Freeheld’ & ‘A Lez in Wonderland’
Q & A session with Japan’s most famous lesbian, former politician and perennial queer activist Otsuji Kanako, as well as Mr. Yamashita, a lawyer with the Tokyo Public Law Office, to discuss the legalities of gay spousal benefits and other issues in relation to the film ‘Freeheld’.
Bride of ‘Kiss the Bride’!
C. Jay Cox is back for a second week, and this time he’s brought his two hunky stars, James O’Shea and Philipp Karner! Get ready for the three-way Q & A session that followed our second screening of ‘Kiss the Bride’, plus one-on-one interviews with James and Philipp, and a mini follow-up interview with C. Jay about his trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima!
Mini-reviews of each film, plus an interview with Aki-san, the programmer of this unique group of shorts.
Q & A session and interview with Jonah Markowitz, director of ‘Shelter’ -- one of the best and most well-received films at this year’s festival!
‘Japanese Rainbow Reel Competition’
Mini-reviews of each film, plus the results of the competition, with guest juror Jonah Markowitz (director of ‘Sheter’).
‘Out at the Wedding’
And last but certainly not least, our closing night event, hosted once again by local drag queen and unstoppable MC, Margaret, with stars Kathy DeBuono and Jill Bennett in attendance for the film and a great Q&A session that left us all in high spirits, even as the festival came to its inevitable close for another year.