A major Asian short film festival opens in Tokyo with an eye on the metaverse

Tetsuya Bessho, founder of the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, appears virtually during the festival’s opening ceremony in Tokyo’s Shibuya district on June 7, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — One of Asia’s biggest short film festivals opened in Tokyo on Tuesday, celebrating new ways to experience cinema through virtual reality and artificial intelligence while maintaining a hybrid format combining in-theatre and online screenings.

With 2022 dubbed the year of the Metaverse, a global virtual world where people socialize and work, the 24th Asian Short Film Festival, June 7-20, will also feature an exclusive webinar exploring the use of technology in filmmaking. .

In keeping with the theme, Japanese actor Tetsuya Bessho, who founded the festival in 1999, appeared virtually during the opening ceremony amid a brilliant display of laser lights and fog.

“We will bring you a world of short films that transcends space and conventional visual concepts,” Bessho said in English.

This year’s festival will feature around 200 films chosen from more than 5,500 entries from 126 countries and regions. Three Ukrainian films have been selected for the competition.

The festival is the only international short film festival in Asia eligible to nominate five films, including animated films, for the following year’s Oscars.

Four short films, including the Swiss animation “Only a Child”, which brings to life the words spoken by Severn Suzuki at the United Nations summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, were screened during the opening ceremony which took place is held at Line Cube Shibuya.

The ceremony was also attended by a number of Japanese celebrities, including Atsuko Maeda, original member of all-female pop group AKB48, and Sho Aoyagi, member of all-male theater troupe Gekidan Exile, who also stars on Netflix. hit the drama “Alice in Borderland.”

Some of the actors who made short films that will be screened during the festival took to the stage to talk about their respective projects.

Eight prizes have already been awarded, including one for Okinawa native Takayuki Nakama’s film “Room without Sound”, which received the Shibuya Diversity Award. The prize recognizes a work for its diversity and inclusion as promoted by the Shibuya district in Tokyo.

The Global Spotlight Award went to “Roborovski,” a 15-minute Australian animated short from Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Dev Patel that follows a thimble-sized hamster who spends his days in a pet shop in the hope of finding a family.

The award, which started last year, recognizes a short film that inspires and has received wide attention from a global audience.

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well: The Short Film” was among six films nominated for the award this year.

The online screenings, which have been available to a global audience since April 28, are scheduled to last until June 30.

Films already streaming online include “Boy Sprouted,” a 26-minute short film written by Japanese artificial intelligence bot “Furukoto,” and “Boy Pays for the Fight,” a superhero story directed by Tao. Okay, 10 years old.

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