The Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) has started this year’s run, its 14th, with an opening ceremony packed with guests and film fans at the Hankyu Umeda Hall on March 08, 2019.

The evening launched with a star-studded appearance from some of the festival’s many guests who took to the stage at the opening ceremony in order to greet the assembled audience.

Led by ZHANG Lu (張律), director of the Korean film “Ode to the Goose” the big names on the night included directors and a selection of their cast and crew. LIM Kah-wai (林家威) returned to Osaka following the recording of his latest Balkan adventure, “Somewhen, Somewhere” (いつか、どこかで) while AYABE Shinya (綾部真弥) is presenting his latest film, “The Peers” (ピア〜まちをつなぐもの〜). KAWAZOE Bilal (川添ビイラル) of “WHOLE” brought lead actors KAWAZOE Usman (川添ウスマン) and Kai Sandy (海・星野・サンディー) and director KISHIMOTO Tsukasa (岸本司) of “Okinawan Blue” (ココロ、オドル) was accompanied on stage by his film’s star, Shogen (尚玄). Hong Kong’s Maisy Goosy SUEN (孫明希) of “A Woman is a Woman” (女人就是女人) was joined by her film’s producer Mimi WONG (⻩欣琴) and one of the lead actresses Tomo KELLY (⻩家恒).

The final guests were SUZUKI Takuji (鈴木卓爾) of the festival’s opening film “RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram” (嵐電) who was joined on stage by three of his cast: IURA Arata (井浦新), ONISHI Ayaka (大⻄礼芳) and KANAI Hiroto (金井浩人).

ZHANG Lu, the highly-respected indie film director, spoke on behalf of the guests and went on to comment “I would like to first of all express my sincerest gratitude for inviting this film to the Osaka Asian Film Festival. This is my first visit to the city. Over the last 10 years, I have visited Fukuoka for the Focus on Asia: Fukuoka International Film Festival. I think I only visit new places only once every ten years. So if you like my film, I will be very happy to visit Osaka for the next ten years. I wish you much joy and happiness during this festival season.”

After the opening ceremony, SUZUKI Takuji took to the stage again alongside IURA Arata,ONISHI Ayaka and KANAI Hiroto and they were joined by more of the cast of “RANDEN: The Comings and Goings on a Kyoto Tram” as they went on to introduce the opening film, a love letter to the city and people of Kyoto.

In a lively talk with the announcers, they each touched upon what made the film special for them as well as the way it blurred fantasy and reality.

IURA Arata, who returns to Osaka following OAFF 2015 Opening Film “Asleep” (白河夜船), warmly greeted the audience and said “This is the world premiere so I hope everyone will enjoy this film. I want to introduce the actors who are students of SUZUKI’s at Kyoto University of Art and Design’s Department of Film Production. My treasure from making this film was working with them.” Much to the audience’s delight, each of the young cast members stepped forward and introduced themselves.

When asked for his comment director SUZUKI replied, “I hope everyone enjoys our screening. Everyone has a different impression of the film so please let us know. I want everyone to Tweet their impression and tell others.”

His parting words to the audience were a reminder of the unique opportunity afforded to them thanks to film festivals.

“Because of the Osaka Asian Film Festival, there are lots of films from all across Asia on screen. Normally we don’t have an opportunity to see films from other Asian countries, so please watch the other films. This opportunity is a rare one to see films made by people expressing their lives. Through these films, audiences will touch these lives and will have unforgettable memories. Of course, I want you to see RANDEN but please watch the other films.”

The Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 is taking place until March 17 in Osaka, screening 51 films from 17 countries and regions.

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Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.