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Japan is home to one of the most lucrative movie industries in the world, and also one of the most prolific: 1,149 films received a theatrical release during 2016, over 600 of which were domestic productions. It can be hard to stand out in such a crowded marketplace and the challenges are often compounded for non-Japanese people working in the industry.

The Japan Times spoke to four such individuals to hear their thoughts about the state of Japanese cinema in 2017, and what the future might hold. Jason Gray, a former Japan correspondent for Screen International, released his first film as a producer this year, the Japanese-Latvian co-production “Magic Kimono.” Bryerly Long is best known for her starring role in Koji Fukada’s 2015 film “Sayonara,” which she also produced. Adam Torel founded the U.K. distribution company Third Window Films and has multiple producer credits to his name, most recently for this year’s “Love and Other Cults.” John Williams has directed three Japanese-language features, and will be releasing his fourth, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” next year. These are excerpts from the conversations, edited for length and clarity.

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