KIFF 2017 Opening Ceremony Reflects Traditions at Nishi Honganji Temple

2017/10/12 Report

The 2017 Kyoto International Film and Arts Festival opened on October 12 with a beautifully curated ceremony held at the Minami Noh Butai of Honganji, the head temple of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and a prestigious World Heritage Site.

At the national treasure the konoma (audience seats), the guests witnessed an elegantly orchestrated performance by a group of geisha known as “kuruwa no nigiwai,” including two songs, “All the Flowers” and “The Seven Happy Gods” played on flute, taiko drums and shamisen. They then elegantly walked out of the temple while showcasing the art of te uchi hand clapping, creating a most picturesque and timeless scene.

The emcees were Yuichi Kimura, Takashi Fujii and Satomi Hirano of KBS Kyoto.
Shortly thereafter, Sadao Nakajima, Honorary Chairman of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival Executive Committee, took to the stage and began by sharing his appreciation of being able to hold the event in the temple. “This year is the 120th anniversary of the first film to be shown in Kyoto, and I am glad that this festival focuses on both art and movies,” he said. “I’m honored to officially open this year’s event.”

“Kyoto is very unique in the way that all people can enjoy the festival, and this year we are holding events in many places including heritage sites and gardens,” explained Ichiya Nakamura, Chairman of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival Executive Committee, who also introduced the theme, “4 days and 3 nights in Kyoto.”

Mayor of Kyoto Daisaku Kadokawa then gave his own speech, and he reminded the audience that “October 13 is memorial day when the power of the government changed from Samurai leadership to the Emperor’s Palace for the Meiji Restoration. 22 Mayors get together to talk about the meaning of the events tomorrow. In a World EXPO in 1871, geisha performed their famous dance, and this year marks 150 years since the Meiji Restoration.”

It was then announced that before 2021, the Agency for Cultural Affairs will move from Tokyo to Kyoto, which may have a significant impact on cultural development in the city, which KIFF hopes to be a big part of.

Kaoru Nemoto of the United Nations was then invited to explained the Sustainable Development Goals set up by the UN in 2015. Consisting of 17 goals aimed at achieving equal opportunities and an improved environment by 2030, the SDGs have been promoted at various Yoshimoto Kogyo events since the relationship with the UN was established at the Okinawa International Movie Festival earlier this year. “ To help make this achievable, using the power of laughter, we will hold a comedian show at this festival,” said Nemoto.

The Opening Ceremony ended with a rapturous round of applause, ahead of the opening film, “Tenchu!” by director Hideo Gosha.

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