Lovers of the 7th art may not always be happy with the time it takes for new films to reach Japan or the relatively high ticket prices. You are even less likely to be content with your options if you are a fan of independent cinema; most films never make it to Japan and the ones who do are usually screened by smaller venues with limited sitting capacity. Film festivals organized throughout the year in various areas do offer some reprieve but those can also be pricey, especially if they are outside the city center.
The 12th Short Shorts Film Festival, started by actor Tetsuya Bessho, is here to correct the situation. The festival was first organized in 1999 in an effort to familiarize Japanese audiences with short films. The first works ever screened were 6 shorts created by George Lucas during his university years. The event has come a long way since then, thanks in part to support from the Metropolitan government. Only two years after the first screening, the festival earned accreditation for the Academy Awards, meaning the winner of the Grand Prix Award now qualified for an Oscar nomination. This may not sound like a very big deal but it is an honour for which event organizers all over the world would kill.
Photo: nAok0 on Flickr
This year's theme is "Cinematic Moment". Over the course of 10 days, works from a number of countries and by creators young and old, will be screened in 6 different venues.
Most of the venues that co-host the festival are located in Omotesando and the surrounding area (one is in Yokohama). Entrance is free; all festival-goers have to do is book their seats online, through the festival's website. Each screening has a unifying concept and lasts about 110 minutes. Among this year's programmes are Save the Earth, Music, CG Animation, War and the Power to Live but the highlight, in my humble opinion, is a selection from the Canes Film Festival with shorts from the UK, Turkey, France, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Georgia and Colombia.
So here is your chance to do something fun, potentially educational and free of charge in one of Tokyo's most diverse areas. Afterwards you can grab a bite or have a drink at Commune 246, an open-air space with food stalls and communal tables, popular with people of all ages, including families with young children. Or you can take a stroll down Cat Street, a fashion hub for the young and funky at heart. Perhaps there is something else going on in Yoyogi Park that day? Few places can offer more than this area so whatever you feel like doing, chances are you can do it within the stretch of land between Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando stations.
The festival is taking place from June 4 to June 14.
Admission is free, with very few exceptions.
For screening times, programmes and reservation visit the website
As with most events, things are likely to be busier on Saturday and Sunday so make sure to reserve a seat as soon as you make up your mind about what you want to watch.