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Japanese production house to be honoured at Locarno Filmfest

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NEW DELHI: Japanese company Office Kitano will be honoured with a tribute that recognizes the most significant players on the international independent production scene.

The Locarno Festival is slated to take place from 5 - 15 August.

Founded in 1988 as a theatrical agency, Office Kitano was created to answer the need to manage the TV activities of Takeshi Kitano and a group of comic actors linked to him. In 1991 it became a production company with A Scene at the Sea, Kitano's third feature film, and since then has produced all of the actor-director's films.

Under its president Masayuki Mori, the company also started producing other Japanese directors, starting with Hiroshi Shimizu's Ikinai (1998). During those same years, Shôzô Ichiyama joined forces with the company; Ichiyama had already worked with Kitano on his first feature, Violent Cop (1989) and co-produced three films by Hou Hsiao-hsien.

In 2000 the company began an inspired collaboration with JIA Zhang-ke. The first film was Platform (2000), which was followed by Unknown Pleasures (2002), The World (2004), 24 City (2008), A Touch of Sin (2013) and Mountains May Depart (2015).

In 2001 the company produced Delbaran, a film by the Iranian director Abolfazl Jalili, which was selected for Locarno's Concorso internazionale where it won the Special Jury Prize.

In addition to producing and distributing a range of films, in 2000 Office Kitano launched Tokyo FILMeX, a film festival created to raise the profile of independent production.

Festival artistic director Carlo Chatrian said, “With the decision to pay tribute to Office Kitano's twenty years of activity, the Festival is choosing a territory and a company in which it has a particular interest. Not only because we love the Japanese actor-director's productions but also because of the studio's stated desire to support young Japanese filmmakers, and work with other major directors, such as JIA Zhang-ke. An award is both a recognition for the work they have done and an encouragement to continue in the path they have chosen: both are completely appropriate in the case of Office Kitano, to whom we wish a brilliant future.”

Office Kitano president Masayuki Mori and producer Shôzô Ichiyama will be at Locarno to receive the award.

Three films will be shown at the Festival to mark this tribute: Hana-bi (1997) and Dolls (2002), both directed by Takeshi Kitano, and JIA Zhang-ke's Unknown Pleasures

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