Cannes Docs: Definite Article

Cannes Docs: Definite Article

For Emi Ueyama of Japanese Article Films, who has signed up as one of Cannes Docs’ features exhibitors in 2020, business under corona has hardly been affected.


“Actually I am busier, as so many films are going online,” she says. “Maybe because it doesn’t make any difference for us. We sell to the theatre, but VOD and TV and equally important … and we don’t usually see our buyers physically. The way of doing business isn’t exactly the same, but the income is the same.”


Ueyama is mulling over whether to attend future markets, given the online nature of her work, and is slowly coming to the conclusion that she will travel less. But one market she intends to attend after lockdown is Cannes 2021, despite travel expenses from Tokyo being in the region of €3000, she says. “If there is a physical market next year then I will definitely go. Cannes is the most important market of the year. But other fests? I don’t know yet.”


Despite her status as a featured exhibitor, Ueyama is actually a producer and is handling sales on just one of the four docs she has at Cannes, Daughter of the Light directed by Khashem Gyal and Miyuki Maysuo. The other three projects, all produced by her, are in post-production and she is seeking sales representation on each.


In Daughter of the Light, although 13-year-old Metok Karpo lives in a Tibetan boarding school for orphans, her divorced parents are alive and well, leaving her to be raised by her maternal grandparents, who make her school-holidays hell by continually denouncing her father. While her mother unsuccessfully remarries, Metok embarks on a journey to find her father in her native grassland. Discovering his happy life with a new family, she is troubled by complex feelings she can only express through her imaginative drawings…


The film is a market premiere and all rights are available, Ueyema underlines.


The producer is promoting three of her own productions at Cannes Marché. On each films all rights/all territories are available. Origami it is about a commission that celebrated Japanese painter Atsushi Suwa receives from grieving parents to paint a portait of their son, a medical student who committed suicide. The film will be completed by the end of 2020, and the title refers to the dead girl’s favourite hobby of paperfolding. 


The title of Urayasu refers to a town close to Tokyo whose fish market is due to close, due to its former customers turning to supermarkets for their purchases. The main protagonist in the film is Morita, a fishmonger by day, a punk performer by night. But how will he and his family cope after closure of the market?


In Tokyo Kurds we are told that it is extremely difficult to get refugee status in Japan. The number of Kurds recognized as refugees are no more than double-digit. Their situation is hopeless. Among them is 18-year-old Ozan, who first came to Tokyo as a child. Living ‘illegally alien’ rather than an officially recognized refugee, Ozan does demolition work on buildings and homes. This film portrays one summer in Ozan’s life as he begins work that hopes will fulfil his secret dreams, even as he struggles with a sense of alienation from Japanese society.