For independent filmmakers from elsewhere in Asia with high censorship or distribution hurdles, Japan must look like paradise. Last year, most of the 581 local films released here were low-budget indie titles. Hardly any of their makers got rich, but at least their films saw the theatrical light of day. But as illustrated by the troubled history of “A Drop from Tomato,” a heart-warming drama by actor-director Hideo Sakaki, dozens of Japanese indie films fail to make the transition from production to release for years — or forever.

Filmed in 2012 with a cast headed by name actors Renji Ishibashi and Manami Konishi, “A Drop from Tomato” struggled to find a distributor. Selected for the 2015 edition of the Okuridashi Film Festival — a now-discontinued event showcasing “shelved” domestic films — “Tomato” won the Grand Prize and finally got an opening date.

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