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From the Blue Kite to the ‘Dragon Seal’: Thirty Years of the Tokyo International Film Festival and Chinese Cinema

ISHIZAKA Kenji Translator: WEN Hao


Senior programmer of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) Ishizaka Kenji looks back on the late 1980s when TIFF established close contact with the Chinese film world by showcasing many Fifth Generation filmmakers. But after an official protest in response to the screening of The Blue Kite by Tian Zhuangzhuang in the early 90s, TIFF has since limited their selection to only films with a screening permit (‘dragon seal’) from the Chinese state. Ishizaka details the shifting landscape after 2010 and the reemergence of state-approved independent films. He considers the conflation between TIFF and other independent film festivals in Japan, as well as the instability of the ‘dragon seal’ license in practice, calling on the relevant Chinese administrative bodies to create better conditions for the international exhibition of Chinese films.