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[Report] A special screening at an ancient temple on a grass field! A collaboration with “One Million People’s Candle Night”!


On Saturday, June 16th of 2018, “One Million People’s Candle Night @ Zojoji Temple” was held at the Daihonzan Zojoji in Tokyo Shiba Park. This event, with the slogan “A slow night with the lights off,” is hosted by Daichi wo Mamoru Kai , a business which delivers organic foods, and the radio station J-WAVE. This event has been held every summer solstice from 2003, and celebrates its 16th anniversary this year.
This year marks a first endeavor, a collaboration with SSFF & ASIA. We screened two short films with the environment as a theme. Moreover, in addition to the film festival representative Tetsuya Bessho and the festival ambassador and film commentator LiLiCo, there was an appearance of the festival navigator Ryuji Imaichi (J Soul Brothers III) who led a countdown.

The event began with an introduction from Kazuyoshi Fujita, the founder of the event and the chairman of Oisix.daichi Inc., and Tetsuya Bessho, the film festival representative.
Chairman Fujita introduced the goal of the event, saying, “We live sophisticated and convenient, yet busy lives. So let’s take, say, 2 hours out of a year, to turn off our lights. By turning off the lights, we can see something we have not seen before. Let’s think about what innovation means to us, where society is taking us.”
Representative Bessho commented, “Cinema is an art of light. Let’s think about the meaning of light together, by sharing darkness.”

Later, the unit “nyca” with Miu Sakamoto and Michael Kaneko took the stage. They performed 6 songs, including original pieces and pieces that have a rich connection with cinema like the theme song from the film “Never Ending Story.” Audience members who gathered around the hall seemed to be relaxed, as they immersed into the sound of Michael’s acoustic guitar and Ms. Sakamoto’s free and clear voice.

The veil of the night slowly sinks into Zojoji Temple. From here begins the “Candle Cinema Time,” hosted by SSFF & ASIA “Save the Earth! Department supported by RINREI,” with the outdoor screening of the films. The first piece was “Plantae,” (Directed by Guilherme Gehr) which won the best film award of said department this year. This piece portrays a future being lost through deforestation with a unique touch, mixing reality with imagination. The world inside the forest and the vivid, wide sky projected on the outdoors screen seemed to flood to us, the world outside the film.

After the screening, Representative Bessho, LiLiCo, and Miu Sakamoto, who was the judge for “Save the Earth! Department supported by RINREI” all made appearances on the stage. The discussion was hosted by Rachel Chan, making a lineup of members who all host shows on J-WAVE. Ms. Sakamoto commented on the nominated pieces, saying, “It is extremely hard to discuss environmental issues. Such discussions can often be one-sided, and the message can feel forced. This is why directors around the world should and are offering their creative, unique and fantastic interpretations through film.”

Later, there was a screening of “Poles Apart” (Directed by Paloma Baeza) which won the J-WAVE Award of said department.
The film is set in the North Pole, with the ice melting due to global warming. In front of a hungry polar bear appears a grizzly bear, who lost his home due to deforestation. The plot follows the two bears as they head off together. The film is a witty piece, dealing with the serious issue of climate change while using a cute motif of animated bears.
Ms. Sakamoto said, “I watched all the nominated pieces my daughter, who is 2 years and 10 months, and this is the only one that she reacted to. Climate change is a problem that will continue 10, 20 years from now. It is important to create pieces that will reach children.”

Now, it is nearing the all-out blackout at 8pm. Ryuji Imaichi (Sandaime [3rd Generation] J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE), the festival navigator, appeared on stage for the countdown call. There are loud cheers from the Imaichi fans who gathered to the hall. Sandaime [3rd Generation] J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE performed their new song “FUTURE” as the official song of SSFF & ASIA 2018. There is a strong connection with short short and Sandaime, with Kenjiro Yamashita and Takanori Iwata appearing in the short film “Utamonogatari.”
Mr. Imaichi, when asked about his own future, excited the audience by saying, “I started putting effort into my own solo projects, such as appearing in music videos and acting. If any opportunities come up, I would like to act in a short film as well.”

Meanwhile, we were approaching 20 seconds before 8pm. Mr. Imaichi and others led the entire audience hall to a countdown. 3, 2, 1…! The light from the main hall of the Zojoji Temple and the light of the looming Tokyo Tower in the background was turned off. The candles lined up on the stairs of the main hall flickered, filling the surroundings with a soft air. Thus began the 2 hour candle time.

After lights were turned off, it was time for more music. Ms. Miyuu performed her acoustic singing voice with the theme song of the short film “Brakers,” which was produced by SSFF & ASIA.

Candle night and short film. This year’s event was marked by this first ever collaboration. A short film with a brief run time may be the most appropriate for an outdoors event-style showing.
And, as Ms. Sakamoto said, it seems that creative expression through film (especially short film) has a large potential to create a setting to discuss climate change and world peace. Film and music can communicate what logic and arguments cannot. It was a night of re-realizing the possibility of short film.