Tokyo 2020 Official Film selected for the Festival de Cannes

The Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 by acclaimed Japanese director Naomi Kawase has been selected for the Festival de Cannes. The film’s world premiere will take place at the prestigious cinematic event along with “Visions of Eight” from Munich 1972, in the “Cannes Classics” selection.

IOC/David Burnett IOC/David Burnett

The Official Film is set to be released in two parts, one depicting the Games through the eyes of the athletes (Side A), and the other from the perspective of staff and volunteers (Side B). The film, a behind-the-scenes record of the Olympic Games held last summer amid the coronavirus pandemic, depicts the unusual context the Games were held in, in addition to the story of sport and competition. The 1-hour-59-minute first part, or “Side A”, will have its world premiere at Cannes on 25 May, with “Side B” slated for international release in June.

“We are delighted that the Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - Side A will have its world premiere at the Festival de Cannes,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. “The story of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has been captured with characteristic style and flair by Naomi Kawase. The film presents the Games through a truly unique lens.”

The hundreds of hours of footage for this Official Film were captured over a period of two years, documenting the run-up to the Games and culminating with the postponed Games that were eventually held in the summer of 2021. Produced by the Kinoshita Group in collaboration with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the IOC, the message of the film goes beyond physical exploits and focuses on some human stories of the Games.

“I am truly pleased that the film is invited to the Festival de Cannes,” said the Director, Naomi Kawase. “The Cannes Classics section is reserved for films that are recognised as cultural heritage. I believe this is a sign that the Cannes selection committee has appreciated this film as a testimony of the time, and sees it being passed on to future generations.”

Tokyo 2020 Official Film selected for the Festival de Cannes IOC/David Burnett

Kawase joins an illustrious list of world-renowned directors that have created Official Films of the Olympic Games, including the likes of Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Miloš Forman, Arthur Penn and Carlos Saura.

The Festival de Cannes General Delegate Thierry Frémaux said: “The Cannes Festival is delighted to present Naomi Kawase's film on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 for its world premiere. It is also an opportunity for the Festival to salute the work of the IOC with the world of cinema. By appointing Naomi Kawase, the IOC and President Thomas Bach are maintaining a beautiful tradition since Kon Ichikawa, Chris Marker, Claude Lelouch and Carlos Saura, to name but a few, who have evoked the Olympic world on film. The eye of an artist is precious; and Kawase proves it once again, as did the eight filmmakers who filmed the 1972 Munich Games in ‘Visions of Eight’, which the Cannes Festival is proud to present as a restored version.”

Kawase was the youngest filmmaker to win the Camera d'Or award for best debut director at the Festival de Cannes with her first feature, "Suzaku", released in 1997. She is also the first Japanese woman to be appointed a UNESCO goodwill ambassador in recognition of her film work that focuses on the stories of women across generations. A special focus on female athletes is one of the themes of this Official Film.

“It is a matter of great pride for us that this film has been selected for the Festival de Cannes,” said Yasmin Meichtry, Associate Director of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH), which leads the IOC’s collaboration on official films. “In a return to a more cinematographic approach, strong themes have been expressed with nuance and subtlety in this film. We knew that Naomi Kawase’s vision would be characteristic and unique, which is even more important given the circumstances the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were held in.”

Tokyo 2020 Official Film selected for the Festival de Cannes IOC/David Burnett

“Visions of Eight” from Munich 1972, which made its Cannes debut at the Festival in 1973, will return to Cannes on 22 May, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Games. The rare anthology film, which was collectively created by eight internationally-acclaimed directors, won the best documentary award at the Golden Globe Awards in 1974.

Since the early 20th century, films have been created for every edition of the Olympic Games. Throughout the decades, accomplished international filmmakers have been inspired by the Olympic Movement to push the boundaries of the Olympic documentary tradition and to create powerful cinema as part of the Olympic Games’ cultural legacy. The Olympic Film Collection is composed of more than 50 feature-length films that offer a cinematic window onto defining moments in the history of the modern Games.

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