Rather than seeking bloody vengeance, Takeshi Kitano, director of yakuza films “Violent Cop,” “Outrage” and “Beyond Outrage,” expressed his frustrations with the domestic film industry with pointed comments at a recent talk event in Tokyo.
One of Japan’s foremost filmmakers and TV personalities, Kitano voiced his “hate” for anime, distaste for the lack of serious criticism in the media and also encouraged young filmmakers to “deceive” major studios.
The talk event was held on Oct. 25, with eight up-and-coming directors discussing the theme “Now and Future of Japanese Film” as part of the Tokyo International Film Festival, which runs through Oct. 31.
Kitano was attending the event to receive TIFF’s inaugural Samurai Award for creating “groundbreaking films that carve out a path to a new era,” according to TIFF’s website. However, this wasn’t enough to satisfy the 67-year-old director, who commented about a particular prize he felt he may also have deserved.
“My films have never been nominated for the foreign language Academy Award. The Academy Award-winning films in Japan are most likely from Shochiku, Toei and sometimes Nikkatsu,” he said, referring to three major domestic studios.
According to Kitano, this is part of a wider system of control caused by the strong bond in Japan between film distributors and theaters, and also due to the lack of criticism in major newspapers and magazines, which provide positive reviews for films to ensure continued advertising revenue.
“These wrongdoings are spoiling Japanese films,” said Kitano.
He then gave a warning to young filmmakers, saying that they should “avoid being involved with the major distributors. If you want to take part, make sure to deceive them.”
The talk session continued with another surprising comment from Kitano, this time regarding anime — a genre which TIFF has based its programming around this year and something which the government is giving significant financial support toward as part of the Cool Japan campaign.
One of the panelists, a young director named Yuki Nakajima, asked Kitano for comment about a style of editing in anime where scenes are made over-dramatic with through editing and music rather than character development.
“I hate anime,” said Kitano, “especially Hayao Miyazaki. But I do admit that his works are good because they make quite a lot of money.”
He later clarified his blunt response to Nakajima: “There are always likes and dislikes. You should do what you think is good, but sometimes it’s necessary to accept things that you’re not interested in.”