Tanaka Toshihiko arrives at the Film Festival with ‘Rei’ backed by the good reception of his work in Europe


• The Japanese director and actor, winner of the Best Film Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, will talk to the audience today, April 24, at Cine Yelmo Las Arenas (6:45 p.m.)

• The 23FICLPGC will screen his film again on Saturday, April 27, at 11:00 a.m.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. When Tanaka Toshihiko made his first film, he had a hunch that it would be well received by European audiences. A feeling that was confirmed just a few months ago when he won the Best Film Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and that is now strengthened with its selection at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival, where he is competing in the Official Feature Films Section with his first film, Rei (Japan, 2024, 189 min.).

Toshihiko will talk about his film and his directorial debut this Wednesday evening, April 24, at 6:45 p.m. at the screening taking place at Cine Yelmo Las Arenas. The feature will return to the same theater for a final screening on Saturday, April 27, at 11:00 a.m. At both screenings, the audience will be able to delve into the beginning and development of the relationship between Hikari Matsushita, the main character, and Masato, a hearing impaired photographer played by the filmmaker himself.

Full of characters whose stories converge in the young Hikari, this melodrama has been directed, but also written, produced and edited by the Japanese director who has made the leap to the big screen from the stage, where he has a long career as an actor. A change that was “a lot of fun,” he admitted, and that came motivated by the Covid-19 pandemic when, faced with the impossibility of leaving home, he decided to reinvent himself. “At first I was making videos on YouTube for fun, but one day a friend who is also an actor told me to buy a camera to make a film, a short film,” said Toshihiko.

The first shootings were simple, “landscapes and some people,” he recalled regarding that time when other colleagues decided to shoot short films. “We didn’t want to do the same, so we decided to make a feature film, a particularly long one.” That’s how the director began to outline Rei‘s characters, first Masato and then Hikari, who ended up coming to life in a three-hour film that plays with sound and silence to convey emotions.

The film, premiering in Spain as part of the Festival, will hit Japanese theaters in May, where the filmmaker hopes it will be as well received as in “Europe and South America.” To a greater or lesser extent, Toshihiko already has his sights set on new film projects that he would like to premiere “at major European festivals such as Cannes,” he said. Tanaka intends to complete a film trilogy set in the Japanese region of Hokkaidō. According to the director, his world has changed completely with this work, Rei, and he plans to keep improving and creating films in the future.

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