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UNIJAPAN New Directors from Japan 2024 KANEKO Yurina, KUDO Masaaki and FUJIMOTO Akio were Selected as Representatives

Three Japanese filmmakers have been selected to attend the Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market. This opportunity comes courtesy of a program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, to support participation in overseas film festivals.

The program aims to provide essential support to up-and-coming Japanese filmmakers who are gaining recognition both domestically and internationally. It offers these filmmakers an exclusive opportunity to participate in the highly acclaimed Berlin International Film Festival, one of the world's top three film festivals, as well as the European Film Market. Through engagement in lectures, workshops, and the showcasing of their film projects, these filmmakers can further elevate their international visibility and forge valuable connections with industry experts.
This year saw a notable increase in applications from directors eager to participate in the program, surpassing the number of applicants in the previous two years. Following a meticulous evaluation process, KANEKO Yurina, KUDO Masaaki, and FUJIMOTO Akio were selected as representatives. These three filmmakers will join the 74th Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market in 2024. During the event, they will have the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the global film landscape and engage in various promotional endeavors. Upon their return to Japan, they will share the newfound knowledge with their peers in the filmmaking community.

To be eligible for this program, aspiring participants must be Japanese filmmakers who have directed three or fewer feature-length films that have been publicly released in theaters. Their works should have gained official recognition in the feature-length film category of eligible film festivals in Japan or abroad since 2020. Additionally, they must possess a film project to showcase during the festival.


KANEKO Yurina, born in Tokyo in 1995, embarked on her career in filmmaking while studying at Ritsumeikan University's College of Image Arts and Sciences. In 2018, she was chosen from a pool of 200 candidates to direct the short film "Projection," featuring ITO Sari. This film was one of 15 short stories that came together in the project "21st Century Girl," curated and produced by YAMATO Yuki. In 2019, KANEKO continued to make her mark in cinema with the release of the independent film "The Wandering Plants," winning accolades at the Pia Film Festival and showcasing internationally at events such as the Nippon Connection Film Festival in Germany, the Seoul International Women's Film Festival, and the Hong Kong Fresh Wave Short Film Festival. Her debut feature-length film, "The Sleeping Insect" (2020), won the Grand Prix Award at MOOSIC LAB and, despite being self-distributed, screened at theaters across Japan. Her first commercial film, "People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind" (2023), screened at notable festivals including the Osaka Asian Film Festival and the Shanghai International Film Festival, and brought home the Best Up-and-Coming Director Award at the 15th TAMA Film Awards.

KUDO Masaaki
KUDO Masaaki, born on October 31, 1983, in Kyoto Prefecture, honed his filmmaking skills under the guidance of renowned Japanese film directors such as MORITA Yoshimitsu, ISHII Gakuryu, YAMAZAKI Takashi, and SHIRAISHI Kazuya, gaining expertise in diverse genres spanning period dramas, science fiction, and fantasy. His debut feature-length film, "I'm Crazy" (2017), garnered acclaim by winning the NETPAC Award (Best Asian Film) at the 22nd Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in Korea. His second feature film, "Unprecedented" (2021), which revolves around young people who, despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, cannot stay at home, wasshowcased in the 'Rebels with A Cause' Competition section at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia and was officially invited for screening at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. His third feature film, "A Far Shore" (2022), earned a nomination for the Main Competition at the 56th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic and secured a spot in the Competition at the 23rd TOKYO FILMeX, where it received the Audience Award.

FUJIMOTO Akio, born in Osaka, Japan, in 1988, studied filmmaking at Visual Arts College Osaka. He made his debut as a filmmaker with his first feature- length film, "Passage of Life" (2018, Japan-Myanmar). The film, which depicts the story of a Myanmar family living in Japan, earned recognition in the "Asian Future" section of the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival, where it received two awards. Continuing his filmmaking journey, FUJIMOTO released his second feature film, "Along the Sea" (2020, Japan-Vietnam), which premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and went on to win multiple accolades including the Shindo Kaneto Award, the Oshima Prize, and other notable domestic awards for up-and-coming directors.

- Overview  Period; FEB 15-21, 2024 (tentative)
The selected filmmakers will attend pre-departure lectures aimed at providing insights into the European film festival markets and guidance on how to effectively present their upcoming projects. On arrival at the festival, they will make use of the Japan Booth, set up by the Agency for Cultural Affairs at the European Film Market, as their operational hub. This will enable them to foster meaningful connections with producers, sales agents, film festival programmers, and other industry professionals through lectures, exchange meetings, and pitching opportunities. Advertisements featuring their projects will also be featured in trade publications circulating during the festival.

- Contact
UNIJAPAN Japan Booth (International Promotion Group)
Togeki Bldg., 15th Floor, 4-1-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045 JAPAN   E-mail: office@unijapan.org