‘Shoplifters’ Director Hirokazu Kore-eda Joins Establishment With Japan Academy Awards

Variety | 6/2/2018 | Mark Schilling
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Once considered as a Japanese industry outsider, Hirokazu Kore-eda has thoroughly conquered that insider bastion, the Japan Academy Prizes, scooping eight trophies for his dark family drama “Shoplifters” at the 42nd annual award ceremony on March 1. Among them were best picture and best director honors – with the latter Kore-eda’s second in a row.

Administered by the Japan Academy Film Prize Association, the Japan Academy Prizes have been called Japan’s Oscars, but they have struggled to attain a similar clout and prestige. One reason is the perception that they are mostly parceled out by the local majors for the local majors. Celebrated auteur Takeshi Kitano told an audience at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival that “Toho, Toei, Shochiku and sometimes Nikkatsu…pass (the awards) around.”

Shoplifters - Japan - Gaga - Distributor - Films

“Shoplifters” was released in Japan by Gaga, not considered a major distributor of Japanese films but still a potent industry force with a long list of mainly foreign hits and award winners, including “Whiplash,” “Twelve Years a Slave,” “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech.” The company has distributed other Kore-eda films “I Wish” (2011), “Like Father, Like Son” (2013), “After the Storm” (2016) and, in collaboration with Toho, “The Third Murder” (2017.

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Koreeda - Attention - Academy - Father - Son

Koreeda did not come to the attention of the Academy until “Like Father, Like Son,” his first commercial hit with earnings of $28.5 million. The film received four nominations, including best picture and best director, but no prizes.

Since their start in 1978, the Japan Academy prizes have tended to favor commercial winners over critical favorites. Among the best picture honorees are hits: WWII drama “The Eternal Zero” (2014); the funeral drama “Departures” (2008); and the nostalgic tearjerker “Always” (2005). All were distributed by Japan’s major studios.

Shoplifters - Run

“Shoplifters” also enjoyed a long prosperous run, helped by winning...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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