‘Kontora’ Wins Inaugural Obayashi Prize At North America’s Largest Japanese Cinema Event Japan Cuts

EXCLUSIVE: With the online edition of Japan Cuts, North America’s largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema, set to draw to a close on Thursday (July 30), the event has crowned Kontora as the winner of its inaugural Obayashi Prize.

Named after the late filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi, who died in April this year at the age of 82, the award was created to encourage the continued development of Japanese indie cinema through the festival’s Next Generation section and comes with a $3,000 prize.

Anshul Chauhan’s Kontora topped a field that also included a further six emerging filmmakers and their titles: Natsuki Nakagawa’s Beyond the Night, Kana Yamada’s Life: Untitled, Takuya Misawa’s The Murders Of Oiso, Sae Suzuki’s My Identity, Ryo Katayama’s Roar, and Taku Tsuboi’s Sacrifice.

The winner was selected by a jury consisting of film director Momoko Ando (0.5mm), programmer Julian Ross of Locarno Film Festival and International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Free Stone Productions CEO and producer Miyuki Takamatsu.

Kontora premiered at last year’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia. It chronicles a Japanese schoolgirl’s excavation of buried family secrets.

Director Chauhan will participate in a live virtual Q&A at the festival’s closing ceremony on July 30, an event that will be free and available worldwide.

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