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Festival Report

MESSAGE The 23rd Japanese Film Festival (JFF) has concluded, and on behalf of The Japan Foundation, Sydney, I would like to express my gratitude for your support in another successful Festival. Our team remains dedicated to bringing the best in Japanese cinema to Australia, from the latest hits to renowned classics. This year’s program brought new perspectives in Japanese film, both reviving the old and giving lesser-known stories a chance in the spotlight. From avid cinemagoers to casual fans interested in Japanese culture, JFF continues to attract a diverse audience, attesting to the power of film to bring people of all walks of life together. Thank you again for your support in bringing Japanese cinema to Australia. We look forward to seeing you again at JFF 2020. Wada Yoshihiro Director The Japan Foundation, Sydney


CONTENTS 2 Message 4

JFF Program Categories


2019 in a Nutshell


Program Highlights

16 Our Audence 18 Marketing 24 Publicity 26 JFF Community 28 Festival Partners 31 Final Comments



Total of 145 sessions JFF 2019’s Main program delved into new perspectives in Japanese cinema, from reviving the old to giving lesser known stories a chance in the spotlight. A total of 30 titles were screened, with each city’s program catered to the local demographic. Cities toured (attendance)

© 2019 “Dance With Me” Film Partners

Canberra (1,116) Brisbane (2,466) Perth (1,846) Sydney (9,204) Melbourne (5,635)

35mm Classics

Total of 22 sessions The 2019 Classics program, titled Grief & Vengeance: Otherworldly Tales, complimented the expansive Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Japan Supernatural exhibition. The program presented a collection of films that delved into supernatural and horror themes, featuring masters of the genre Nobuo Nakagawa, Masaki Kobayashi and Satsuo Yamamoto. Cities toured (attendance)

© Kokusai Hoei Co.,Ltd.

© 2018 Studio Chizu


Canberra (298) Sydney (2,851) Melbourne (1,289)

Free Travelling Program Total of 35 sessions

The Regional film program travelled to 10 cities with free screenings of a selection of four fan-favourite films. This program is run in partnership with local organisations such as local governments, university clubs and local chapters of the Australia Japan Cities toured (attendance)

© 2018”Bento Harassent” Film Partners

Adelaide (1,023) Alice Springs (453) Bunbury (655) Cairns (392) Coffs Harbour (341)

Darwin Gold Coast Hobart Newcastle Townsville

(657) (294) (760) (279) (251)

Pre-Festival Taster Total of 3 sessions

To fuel interest and excitement for the upcoming JFF Main program, the pre-Festival JFF Fringe program screened one film per month in Sydney from June-August.

City © 2017 “Birds Without Names” Film Partners







Photo by Victor Caringal


45 Films





20,267 Main

JFF audiences filled


seats acrosss all programs








PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS From our opening nights to pre-Festival promotional events, the JFF season is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your product. Kicking off the Festival season was the Info Night, held at The Japan Foundation, Sydney; a matsuri-like event where we revealed our Main program and screened trailers, provided personalised film recommendations and played games with exciting prizes provided by our sponsors. Further pre-Festival activities in 2019 included a cosplay contest supported by Madman Entertainment and a Japanese dog parade through the streets of Sydney. At our opening nights in Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, we welcomed guests with gift bags of products, brochures and other samples. This year, we were also proud to offer two special guest screenings in Sydney. BLUE HOUR director Yuko Hakota joined us for a screening of her film and post-film Q&A with a special sponsor sake tasting, and SIBLINGS OF THE CAPE director Shinzo Katayama attended a screening of his film and participated in a post-film Q&A. In Melbourne, guest researcher Dr Emerald L King (La Trobe University) joined us for post-film discussion on 80s manga and forgotten classics after FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA.


Info Night attendee playing a version of the popular Japanese festival game called kingyo sukui, where participants must use a fragile net made out of tissue paper to catch a bouncy ball submerged in water.

Info Night attendees receiving personalised advice on what films to see at JFF 2019.

JFF sponsor Sakeshop booth at Info Night, where they offered free sake tastings. JFF sponsor Books Kinokuniya Sydney’s booth featured a selection of books related to films in the 2019 program. Event attendees also had the opportunity to win Kinokuniya vouchers and sponsor Choya products in lucky draws, a true or false game based on the JFF program and a Japanese festival scooping game (pictured above).


JFF staff, volunteers and nine Japanese dogs took to the streets of Sydney to hand out JFF 2019 programs and ramp up excitement for the Festival. People on the street who stopped for photos and posted on social media using a special hashtag could enter for a chance to win a JFF double pass.


Photos by Danny Shao


SPECIAL GUEST EVENTS: Directors Yuko Hakota (BLUE HOUR) and Shinzo Katayama (SIBLINGS OF THE CAPE) travelled to Sydney for screenings of their films at JFF. During post-film Q&As, audiences could learn about what went into making the films from conceptualistion to execution.

Photos by Victor Caringal


BLUE HOUR director Yuko Hakota opening a sake barrel provided by partner Morishima Shuzo. As part of the post-film Q&A with the director, audiences could also enjoy a sake tasting with the director.


To celebrate our guest researcher and cosplay expert Dr Emerald L King’s FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA talk event, we teamed up with Madman Entertainment for a nationwide cosplay contest. Participants entered by submitting a photo of themselves cosplaying any character from our 2019 Main program. One grand prize winner and one runner-up received JFF double passes along with prizes supplied by Madman Entertainment, and a fanfavourite vote was held on Facebook.

Top: Dr Emerald L King in FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA cosplay Middle and bottom: Winning entries from the pre-Festival cosplay competition.

Top image: Photo by Red Scarf Middle left: Photo by Tamago Sisters Middle right: Photo by gaming_goddess Bottom right: Photo by K


JFF Opening Nights are a time for celebration and bringing the greater JFF community together, from Japan enthusiasts to local organisations and businesses. Every year, our team is on the ground interacting with VIPs and other cinemagoers at Opening Nights, taking an hands-on approach to ensure the highest-quality Festival experience possible.

Top & middle row: Photo by Victor Caringal Bottom: Photo by Jennifer Ng


OUR AUDIENCE The overall demographic of JFF audience members remains consistent with previous years, with the majority of JFF audience members aged between 25-34.

92% 42% 31% 19%

Female Male Non-binary

Excellent Very good Good

Our sponsors can effectively reach young professionals who have a wide range of interests related to Japan. 16

GENDER 51% 47% 2%






JFF audience members continue to be highly satisfied with the program, seeing a strong retention rate of returning patrons.











AGE <18 3.5%

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 17% 30% 16% 13%



55+ 21%


First Time




of JFF audiences are non-Japanese


33% 27% 10% 9% 8%




We conducted testing on the 2018 JFF website to improve useability and redesigned the website to provide a superior experience for our users, from better film filtering options to an updated calendar view. As a result, the 2019 JFF website saw a 57% increase in unique sessions compared to 2018.

In 2019, we had

1.2 million

more Facebook impressions than 2018!

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just returning JFF fans, either 84.3% of our website traffic during the 2019 season was from first-time visitors!



Facebook Followers 2,969,760 Impressions 69,387 Clicks 632,691 Post reach

2,403 Instagram Followers


Subscribers 43.9% Open rate 7.9% CTR

151,458 Unique sessions 2m22s Browsing time Breakdown:

69.25% Mobile 26.30% Desktop 4.44% Tablet



Examples of in-house digital JFF 2019 marketing.


MARKETING - JFF Social Highlights

Our Facebook social media marketing in 2019 featured a broad range of post formats reaching our expansive audience of 37,105.


MARKETING - Audience Social Highlights


MARKETING - Offline While the Festival focuses heavily on digital marketing, we also utilise other platforms such as street banners, radio, trailers and pre-event activations to create buzz and excitement about the upcoming Festival.

Paste-up posters displayed around Melbourne CBD. 22

Books Kinokuniya x JFF totem pole giveaway displayed on the ground floor of The Galeries in Sydney in early November.

40 street banners were displayed across the main streets of Sydney CBD. According to City of Sydney, 75% of consumers take action as a result of seeing city banners

Audience members in Perth & Sydney receiving their stamp rally prizes. Audiences can collect stamps and win prizes for the number of films they watch during the Festival.

Premium and major partner trailers were screened a total of 157 times during the Main program across all cities.

Opposite page,top row: Photo by Victor Caringal. This page, bottom row: Photo by Victor Caringal


Region: Circulation: Type: Size:

Sydney, AU 25000 Suburban 316.00 sq.cms.

press clip


JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL films very often at all. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about coming to terms with modern families and how sexual identity can change over time.â&#x20AC;? Could audiences be swayed to visit Japan upon attending screenings at this festival? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yes definitely, because we program films which offer different perspectives on Japanese culture and some of the films vary from explicit modern daily life interactions to films which are specific to cultural practices.â&#x20AC;? (MMo)

The 2019 JFF publicity campaign organised by Original Spin launched with the announcement of our Main program dates on 24 July 2019. Over the course of the national publicity campaign, the Festival was mentioned a total of 340 times across print, radio and online media, with a total circulation of over

53 million.


Ride Your Wave

The 23rd Japanese Film Festival arrives in Sydney with a program of 29 feature films and one documentary which is certain to generate much interest amongst the discerning movie-going public. Japanese cinema has progressively gained more attention in recent years, especially since the Cannes award-winning film Shoplifters garnered global prominence. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most of the western world only know Japanese cinema through the Penrith Press animated features and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s becoming Thursday 14/11/2019 much more popular worldwide, Page: 18 but it is still quite small Section: General Newsand niche Region: AU festival in that sense,â&#x20AC;? Sydney, explained

In particular, 2019 saw a rise in high-quality pieces with higher circulation, resulting in a print circulation increase from 4.3 million in 2018 to 4.6 million in 2019.

Circulation: Type: Size:

50861 Suburban 99.00 sq.cms.

SIBLINGS OF THE CAPE â&#x20AC;&#x201C; A dark film about an intellectually disabled woman who is cared for by her disabled brother and they struggle to make ends meet. Q&A follows the screening with director Shinzo Katayama.

programmer Susan Bui. Japan is the world leader in animated film production and two animated features are included THE LEGEND OF THE in the program this year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ride STARDUST BROTHERS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Your Wave is one of the animated A remastered 1985 classic about films screening and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a beautiful two wannabe rock stars who join romantic film about a girl who forces and become a successful moves to the ocean, falls in love and band. Reminiscent of The Rocky Wednesdayrock 16/10/2019 runs into some mishaps.â&#x20AC;? Horror Picture Show. Audiences who enjoyPage: dramedies 14 shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss My Father, The Bride, General News Section: TOWER OF THE SUN â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the story of a father who comes to A documentary Region: Melbourne, AU that explores the terms with the death of his wife and socially and politically engaged Circulation: 30485 starts to dress up in her clothing. philosophyLifestyle of Japanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Picasso, Taro Magazines He decides to marry Type: a man. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This Okamoto a prolific avant-garde storyline is not seen Size: in Japanese 70.00 sq.cms. artist.

Beat Magazine (Melbourne)

press      Â?Â?Â?Â?   ­Â&#x20AC;Â&#x201A;Â&#x192;Â&#x192; clip

press clip


Blue Hour

NOW YOU SEE THEM, SOON YOU WONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T Comedy duo Steve Martin and Martin Short are bringing their tour for the first time to Australian audiences. They will be joined on stage by Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band The Steep Canyon Rangers. November 17, First State Super Theatre, tickets from Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) firststatesuperlicenced copy $83.95, AUS: 1300 1 NZ: 0800 1 SLICE JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL See the best in contemporary Japanese cinema when this film festival returns to Event Cinemas George St with 29 feature films and one documentary. There will also be guest appearances and audience Q&As from talented directors Yuko Hakota and Shinzo Katayama. November 14-24, Event Cinemas George St, tickets from $16.50-$18.50,

Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licenced copy

AUS: 1300 1 SLICE NZ: 0800 1 SLICE


Ref: 11999942

Japanese Film Festival IS COMING TO MELBOURNE Boasting 29 feature ďŹ lms and one captivating documentary, Japanese Film Festival returns to Melbourne. The program features the likes of Blue Hour, the directorial debut of upand-comer Yuko Hakota; Shinzo Katayamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Siblings of the Cape; Fly Me to the Saitama; Masquerade Hotel; A Girl Missing and loads more. From murder mysteries to musical comedies, the sprawling lineup has something for everyone. Japanese Film Festival comes to ACMI and The Capitol Theatre from Thursday November 21 until Friday December 1. Tickets via the festival website.

Ref: 1199488791

PUBLICITY - Highlights “ sure to be a festival favourite and a cult classic for years to come” Richard Gray from The Reel Bits on MELANCHOLIC

“RENT A FRIEND can’t help but charm with its peculiar and buoyant sensibilities” Hagan Osborne from Filmink on RENT A FRIEND

“the Japanese Film Festival is the highlight of our Australian film calendar” - The Reel Bits

“a distinct and hugely enjoyable comedy-drama” Grant Watson from Fiction Machine on BRAVE FATHER ONLINE: OUR STORY OF FFXIV

“an astute film of epic notions and massive piano swells” Linda Shi from Milkbar Mag on MASQUERADE HOTEL

“these Nirvana nerds are endearingly enlightening” Richard Cotter from Sydney Art Guide on SAINT ☆ YOUNG MEN 2nd CENTURY

“revolutionary action that hits the heights of silliness”

Richard Gray from The Reel Bits on FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA 25

JFF COMMUNITY The JFF community would not be the same without our dedicated volunteers, many of whom come back to be a part of the Festival year after year. Our volunteers act as ambassadors for the Festival, distributing promotional materials such as flyers and creating conversions with our audience, as well as providing on-site venue support. JFF volunteers participate for a variety of reasons, including their love for Japan and Japanese cinema and an interest in getting involved in the community. We have volunteer coordinators in each major city that supervise volunteer activities. The volunteer coordinator role provides a great opportunity for graduates or young professionals to develop their management and leadership skills.


Photo by Jennfer Ng

VIP guest receiving JFF goodie bag from volunteer at the Brisbane Opening Night. Audience member filling out JFF online survey. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re always looking to improve and surveys help us better understand our audience and curate films.

JFF volunteers assisting special guest Yuko Hakota in opening partner Morishima Shuzoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sake barrel.

Top row: Photos by Jennfer Ng. Bottom row: Photos by Victor Caringal



JFF partners offer invaluable support to the JFF community and keep the Festival vibrant year after year. Supporting the Festival goes beyond financial or promotional assistance - it means championing foreign cinema and celebrating cultural diversity. JFF facilitates the gathering of Australian, Japanese and foreign brands, resulting in a home-grown, multicultural event. We believe in tailoring our partnerships to meet the needs of each and every one of our sponsors, resulting in meaningful collaborations. To this end, our collaborations in 2019 included event activations, flyer distribution, prize sponsorships and more, all adapted for the individual goals of our partners.

Choya promoted their new Australian product, The Choya Aged 3 Years at JFF opening nights with seat drop giveaways. Other seat drop giveaways included Sakeshop in Sydney and Melbourne, Hananingen in Sydney, Tokyo Underground in Perth and Davelyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Supermarket in Brisbane.


Our sponsors also have the opportunity to tap into our tech-savvy audience through original creative content such as video essays, longform articles and social media posts.

Top & bottom right: Photo by Victor Caringal. Bottom left: Photo by Lucy Zhang

Thanks to our 2019 partners Presented by

Premium Partner

Major Partner

Government Partner

Venue Partner

Cultural Partner

Media Partner


Local Partner



Top left & middle row: Photos by Jennfer Ng. Top right: Photo by W.G.S Dorshana Bottom: Photo by Andrew Kwok

FINAL COMMENTS This year’s JFF was themed around new perspectives, and not just in terms of the program. Our team welcomed many new additions in 2019, and their diverse backgrounds and knowledge contributed to the carefully curated program. As a small, hands-on team, we are able to see for ourselves how our program is received by talking to patrons on the floor, and nothing is more motivating and rewarding than hearing people talk excitedly about a film they’ve just seen or tell us what they like about the Festival. But JFF is not just about the films - after 23 years, we have grown a dedicated community of fans of Japanese culture who come together to celebrate Japanese cinema through our various events. We are excited to improve the Festival with even more public events to engage our community of dedicated cinemagoers. Our 2019 special guests, BLUE HOUR director Yuko Hakota and SIBLINGS OF THE CAPE director Shinzo Katayama, are both first-time directors, attesting to the up-and-coming talent just starting to make waves in the Japanese film industry. In scouring through films to select for this year’s program, making difficult decisions of what to include and what to cut, our team remains excited about the future of Japanese film. Thank you again for your support in 2019. We can’t wait to see what 2020 brings, and look forward to continuing the JFF tradition of bringing the best Japanese films to Australia.

Photo by Victor Caringal


Photo by Victor Caringal

2019 FESTIVAL TEAM Festival Manager Yurika Sugie

Festival Programmers Susan Bui Simonne Goran Anne Lee Aurora Newton Jessica Chow Assisted by Mai Le

ONLINE Facebook: @japanesefilmfest Instagram: @japanesefilmfest Twitter: @japanfilmfest

CONTACT The Japan Foundation, Sydney Level 4, Central Park 28 Broadway Chippendale NSW 2008 02 8239 0055

PARTNERSHIP ENQUIRIES Japanese Film Festival in Australia is open to partnership enquiries. Please contact us to discuss how we can collaborate and integrate your brand into our Festival campaign.


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Japanese Film Festival 2019 Festival Report