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Nara International Film Festival 2020, to be held in September

Naomi Kawase

As film and other cultural projects around the world have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, the Nara International Film Festival (now in its tenth year) will establish a new kind of film festival with a strong emphasis on safety, and is planning to hold the festival this September 18th (Friday) through the 22nd (Tuesday).

Screening films from young, up-and-coming directors of not only Japan, but also France, India, Korea, Catalunya, Malaysia, Russia, and many other countries, this festival is a chance to see many films would not normally be released to the public, all in their original language with Japanese subtitles and centered around the World Heritage sites of Nara. Become a Red Carpet Club member, and after walking this year’s red carpet at Todai-ji Temple’s Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), you’ll have unlimited access to the monthly film screenings of Nara Cinematheque in Nara City by showing your membership card.

About the Nara International Film Festival

Marking 1,300 years since the capital of Japan was moved to Nara, the Nara International Film Festival began in 2010 with film director Naomi Kawase as its executive director. Based around the four pillars of sharing the beauty and culture of film, discovering young creators, developing the film people of the future, and intercultural exchange through film, our mission is to connect Nara with the rest of the world through film.

Naomi Kawase, Executive Director, Nara International Film Festival

Nara is god’s nursery, with deer and humans happily living together in this town of so much world heritage. In this town, we are cultivating four nurseries through film. The first is the actual festival, a sacred time. The second is Nara Cinematheque, a regular “ordinary” event. The third is the NARAtive project, which connects the sacred with the “ordinary”. The fourth is the Youth Cinema Project, a time for a time that is yet to come. We have all of those ideas in this nursery, and it has a door to the world. 
In 2020, people all around the world have felt the threat of this small virus. However, it is because this is such a difficult time that we decided to sow our seeds in our nursery again this year. It is because now, more than ever, is the time to open the doors from this nursery to the rest of the world, and realize these connections that literally cross borders. It is also because I would like to reaffirm my pride in Japan. We are all passengers riding on the same ship known as Earth. The radiance of art rests in the hearts of all 7.8 billion people, and I wish for that radiance to brighten the world. I hope we can all cultivate this nursery together.

Satoko Nakano, President, Nara International Film Festival

I would sincerely like to thank you for all of the kind words you have offered the Nara International Film Festival. It is thanks to you that 12 years have passed since we started this organization, and 10 years since we held our first film festival. In that time, we have had so many new encounters that have crossed both oceans and generations, all through film. I have been able to witness new works being created as well. It has been a path full of both thrills and miracles. Though there were some tough moments, being able to hold this festival has brought me such a deep happiness every time, and I am very grateful for all of your support that has allowed us to continue to move forward with our high goals.
As we approach our 6th biennial festival, the world has been put into an unprecedented situation. With talk of a new normal, we have had plenty of time to stop and think deeply about all of this. As Nara is a place where the divine, natural, and people live in harmony, a film festival that reaches from Nara out to the rest of the world is needed now more than ever. That is the thought that I arrived at. With all of our experiences so far, I feel very strongly about delivering a “new” Nara International Film Festival to the world now. Thank you for all of your understanding and cooperation.

Sponsorship Programs

The Nara International Film Festival is accepting sponsorship from businesses that are interested in working with them. They offer sponsorship programs.

More information on the website


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