9 March 2011 6:27 AM, PST | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

Above: From left to right, Tokyo FilmEx festival directors Kanako Hayashi and Shozo Ichiyama; and Nobuteru Uchida's prize-winning film, Love Addition.

Last November, I had a conversation with Tokyo FilmEx Festival directors Shozo Ichiyama and Kanako Hayashi. For more than a decade, this duo has helmed Japan’s most serious festival, one dedicated to independent cinema from Asia. Office Kitano, Takeshi Kitano’s production company, has remained its key partner over the years, and helped Japan’s support of Iranian directors as well as groundbreaking figures from China, most notably Jia Zhangke, a regular at FilmEx from the beginning. The festival also revealed the fragile state of art cinema in and from Japan and how a very small, centralized community that has been determining what fits into this category, and what is not allowed in; a community that’s aged while being unable to neither find nor form new heirs. »

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