At a press conference held at Busan International Film Festival, the team behind Ten Years Japan announced that renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda – best known for After Life (ワンダフルライフ), Nobody Knows (誰も知らない), and Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる) – has joined the project as the omnibus’ executive producer.
Kore-eda has been working closely with producers Miyuki Takamatsu (of Free Stone Productions), Eiko Mizuno-Gray and Jason Grey (of Loaded Films), and Miyuki Fukuma (of Bun-Buku) over the past several months, handpicking the five directors for the project.
The five directors are: Akiyo Fujimura, who won the Skip City Award at the 2016 Skip City D-Cinema Film Festival with Eriko, Pretended (見栄を張る); Chie Hayakawa, whose short film Niagara (ナイアガラ) won the grand prize at the 2014 Pia Film Festival and subsequently entered the Cinefondation competition at the Cannes Film Festival; Yusuke Kinoshita, made Water Flower (水の花) in 2005 as the recipient of the Pia Film Festival scholarship; Kei Ishikawa, who last directed mystery drama Gukoroku – Traces of Sin (愚行録); and Megumi Tsuno.
Like the original Hong Kong film, Ten Years Japan offer five visions of Japan ten years into the future. According to the release, the films will “explore a future Japan plagued by pollution and aging; a society where morality and personal history are manipulated by technology, and a nation overshadowed by the spectre of war.”
“The idea of carrying on the spirit of the original Hong Kong film by trying to envision Japan ten years from now was an intriguing one,” Kore-eda says. “ However, I’m a little too old to participate as a young director, so I joined the production as a supporter.”
Japan is part of the Ten Years International project, which also includes a Thai and a Taiwan version. As previously reported, the Thai version of the project is being directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wisit Sasanatieng, Aditya Assarat, Chookiat Sakveerakul, and Chulayarnnon Siriphol.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan version will be directed by Rina B. Tsou (Arnie 阿尼), Lan Kei Huat (Absent Without Leave 不即不離), Lekal Sumi (Panay 太陽的孩子), Hsieh Pei-ju, and Lu Po-shin (short film Wild Tides 野潮).
Ng Ka-leung and Andrew Choi, the creators behind the original Ten Years, also serve as the executive producers of the three overseas version. Hong Kong’s Lorraine Ma and Felix Tsang are producing under their outfit Twofold Productions.
Ten Years Japan is tentatively set for release some time in 2018.
Original released in December 2015, Ten Years (十年) was an independently produced omnibus about Hong Kong ten years in the future. Made by young directors, including alumni of the Fresh Wave Film Festival, the shorts covered the preservation of the Cantonese language, political protest through self-immolation, and anxiety about the Chinese government’s creeping influence into Hong Kong society. The film initially enjoyed a robust run in limited release, but Hong Kong’s cinema chains – most of which also operate cinemas in mainland China – took the film off their screens within a few weeks, even as the film’s sensitive subject matter made it a hot topic in the city.
The film was the controversial Best Film winner at the 2016 Hong Kong Film Awards. The news was censored in mainland China and prompted outrage from heads of certain film companies who blamed the win on the award’s 55-member professional adjudicator group for giving the award for the film’s controversial topic rather than actual quality. The adjudicators’ votes made up 55% of the final score while members of film professional associations held 45%
Peter Lam of Media Asia famously compared the film to “wonton noodles” in press interviews, saying that a wonton noodle shop shouldn’t be called the best restaurant in Hong Kong, implying that a low-budget film made by first-time directors had no business of winning Best Film over The Taking of Tiger Mountain 智取威虎山, which won best director for Tsui Hark that year.
Several members of the Hong Kong Film Awards committee – including heads of film companies that finance Hong Kong-mainland China co-productions – moved to change the voting system, but the motion was later denied at the committee meeting.