Negotiating ‘Asianness’ at the Tokyo International Film Festival
Local, Regional and International Dynamics Through Programming Practices and Film Markets
In this paper I will trace a brief history of major Asian film festivals to understand how the notion of ‘Asianness’ evolved over time and how it is expressed nowadays through programming practices and film markets. Then I will focus on the case study of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) as a problematic site where cultural and economic dynamics converge. As an A-category festival, TIFF has to balance its international status with regional relevance, negotiating ‘Asianness’ in a complex relationship involving the local film industry, since questions on ‘Asian cinema’ are deeply linked to the national. Finally, I will draw some conclusions, discussing how TIFF relates to other major film festivals in Asia, where ‘Asianness’ has been used as a shared effort to distinguish themselves from the paradigm set by European film festivals. However, this is an ongoing process, TIFF struggles to use ‘Asianness’ as a unifying element and the specific interests of each festival obstruct the possibility to create a more systematic trans-Asian model.