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The Japan Council of the University of Pittsburgh and SCREENSHOT: ASIA are pleased to announce the winner of the third biennial University of Pittsburgh Japan Documentary Film Award: Maelstrom, directed by Mizuko Yamaoka. The film will be screened with the filmmaker in attendance as part of the second SCREENSHOT: Asia Film Festival. The award ceremony will take place on September 29 at 7pm in the Seventh Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, immediately followed by the screening of the film.



In the early summer of 2002, Mizuko Yamaoka had an accident just after graduating from the art college where in NY, in which she suffered a serious injury that left her unable to move her leg. She was forced to return to Japan, all of her previous contacts were cut off, and her path to becoming active in the international art world while living outside of Japan was closed.  Without being able to change her limited environment, artistic creation became more and more a thing of the past. In order to reconnect with herself, Yamaoka decided to make a film about her experience and the people around her. A profoundly humanist tale of tragedy and rebirth, Ms. Yamaoka's intimate documentary is both a telling of her own losses and a portrait of human experience.



Born in Tokyo, Japan. In 1998, moved to New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute (NY, USA). After graduating from college, she was forced to return to Japan due to a traffic accident in which her legs were paralyzed. After a lengthy hospitalization, she began working for the secretariat of a non-profit organization working for the disabled. While later staying in Denmark, she studied filmmaking and editing. After returning to Japan, she continued her studies at the Film School of Tokyo, focusing on documentary film. In 2016, she directed and screened a short independent documentary, “The Lost Coin,” which was filmed in Barcelona. That same year, she began recording her life in a wheelchair. In spring-summer 2021, she participated in the artist residency program at BankART AIR (Yokohama, Japan). Five years after she began documenting her life, she completed her first feature-length documentary, Maelstrom, in January 2022.




The Japan Council of the University of Pittsburgh and SCREENSHOT: Asia are excited to announce the third biennial University of Pittsburgh Japan Documentary Film Award. Inspired by the work of Soda Kazuhiro, the award celebrates contemporary films that explore Japanese culture in Japan and around the world. Films should focus on the geographic region of Japan, although topics could include contemporary or historical cultural or social phenomena, practices, or events. The award is available to films 45 minutes or longer, from all countries, and in all languages. One film will be selected as the winning entry and screened as part of a larger event.




Friday, September 25 **Honorable Mention Screening**

book-paper-scissors (2019) by Nanako Hirose

A 75-year-old Japanese book designer Nobuyoshi Kikuchi has devoted his life to designing over 15,000 books. The book designer’s job is not only to come up with  the outstanding jacket of a book, but also to carefully choose the papers and the fonts, and layout them to create the unique physical book. Each design is inspired by the text in the books, and none of them are the same. Through thelens, we find not only the beauty of fabrication but also the crisis of physical book’s existence. The director Nanako Hirose, who is an apprentice of Hirokazu Kore-eda, has filmed Mr. Kikuchi for over 3 years to make this film. Nanako hopes that  the audience goes to a bookstore after watching this film, and touch and reconnect with books by his or her own hands. This is a film for all the book lovers out there in the world.

About the director: 

Born in Kanagawa in 1987, Nanako Hirose graduated from Musashino art University, before joining Hirokazu Kore-eda’s production company Bunbuku in 2011.  Nanako began her career as an assistant on Kore-eda’s film Like Father, Like Son (2013), and

she also contributed to Going My Home (2012), Our Little Sister (2015) and After the Storm (2016). Nanako has also provided support to Miwa Nishikawa as a directorial assistant in her latest film The Long Excuse (2016) Ms. Hirose made her directorial debut in 2019 with His Lost Name, a film which she also wrote the original script. The film tells the story of a young man who has a secret and a pseudo parent-and-child relationship with the owner of a carpentry shop. The film premiered at the 23rd Busan  International Film Festival and was awarded a special mention at the 19th TOKYO FILMeX.



Saturday, September 26  **Grand Prize Screening**

An Ant Strikes Back (2020) by Tokachi Tsuchiya

A certain moving company―its employees call it “ant hell”. Forced to work long hours, they remain trapped in debt, having to pay out of their own pocket the cost of any accidents or repairs for which they may be responsible. One 34-year-old man in the sales department takes a stand, singing up with a labor union, even if no one else from the company will join him. This action gets him transferred to working a dusty paper shredder, and soon after given punitive dismissal.

About the director

Born in Kyoto in 1971 and raised by a single mother.Worked as a day laborer at various jobs--newspaper delivery,bookstore clerk, and factory employee. He began working in 1999 and established a film Group in 2001 called Low Position with Iida Motoharu and Tokida Takashi. His first film,A Normal Life,Please(2008),received awards from several International film festivals including the Raindance Film Festival and Dubai International Film festival.His other films include The Aging Degradation (2013)and Secret of KONBINI(2017).