Award-winning Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase has been appointed to helm the official film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The selection was made by the International Olympic Committee in collaboration with the Organizing Committee of the Games who review proposals from the host nation’s top filmmaking talent. Kawase was chosen after close consultation among Tokyo 2020, Japanese film experts, international film experts and the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage who guides the production on behalf of the IOC.
Kawase, who is a regular at the Cannes Film Festival, is the fifth woman to direct an Official Film, following the works of Caroline Rowland (London 2012), Gu Jun (Beijing 2008), Mai Zetterling (for one of the segments of the film Munich 1972) and Leni Riefenstahl (Berlin 1936).
She will also build on a legacy of more than 100 years of Olympic Film, including documentaries created for past Olympic Games that were held in Japan: Tokyo 1964 (Kon Ichikawa), Sapporo 1972 (Masahiro Shinoda) and Nagano 1998 (Bud Greenspan).
The aim is to capture the soul of a specific edition of the Games while also considering the broader social and cultural context.
Kawase says, “The Olympic Games have a long and glorious history, and with the international sports event returning to Tokyo after 56 years, I’m thinking about the role bestowed on me. I now feel that the ‘god of film’ that came to me one day has given me the chance to record this wonderful celebration of sport that connects people, and to leave a legacy for generations to come. I hope to capture ‘time’ and take full advantage of the appeal of documentary films and their ability to freeze those moments into ‘eternity,’ allowing the significance of the Tokyo 2020 Games to be communicated worldwide.”
Kawase began her career in documentary and short films, and in 1997 became the youngest director to receive Cannes’ Camera d’Or for her first feature, Suzaku. Her other credits include Radiance, Sweet Bean, Still The Water and Hanezu. Vision, her latest film, debuted at the Toronto and San Sebastián International Film Festivals earlier this year.