It really is the end of an era. Mr Masafumi Konomi, the man who has directed every one of Australia’s Japanese Film Festival since it started in 1997, is leaving for Japan tomorrow. There, he will be promoting Japanese films to ASEAN countries as the Senior Project Manager of the Asia Center at the Japan Foundation Head Office.
Australia’s Japanese Film Festival started as a small festival that offered free screenings (with Mr Konomi cutting out the tickets himself); and after years of growth, it is now a festival that runs in 16 cities across Australia and New Zealand.
To start and run a film festival is no easy task. For years, I have hoped to see an Asian Film Festival running in Australia, but none of my fellow cinephiles and local distributors whom I spoke with seem to believe that it’s achievable. But we really just need to look at the Japanese Film Festival to realise that it can be done, though it will take someone who is both knowledgeable and passionate about films, like Mr Konomi, to succeed in doing it.
I will always cherish memories from the one time when I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Mr Konomi, as well as all the wonderful films that I got to see over the past many years because of the Japanese Film Festival. I wish Konomi-san and his family all the very best and sincerely hope that he will succeed in helping many more people discover the magic of Japanese cinema.