It has now been twenty years since Japanese actor Tetsuya Bessho founded the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia [SSFF & ASIA] festival in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo back in 1999. That first event would always be a hard act to follow. 

At the inaugural edition, six short films directed by George Lucas back in his student days were screened. This caught the attention of the famed Star Wars creator, and he has supported SSFF & ASIA ever since. In a statement made in regard to the festival he once said, "Film Festivals do matter. They educate and entertain audiences with collections of works from around the world, but also they are the platforms that can change the lives of the directors behind the films forever."

The legendary Akira Kurosawa once told 2017 Jury member, Director Nobuhiko Obayashi, "Movies have the beauty and power to save the world from war and to lead the world to peace. You can start war easily, but to build peace, it will take at least 400 years. --- one day when someone makes a movie 400 years from now, the power of movies would erase all wars from the world. Movies have that power. I’ve learned this from studying the movies of my predecessors in Japan, the USA, and Europe."

Entries for this year's festival are now open and an acceptance into the program could be your ticket to Tokyo.

Taking center stage this year is the Cinematic Tokyo Competition, which showcases films about Tokyo. Specifically, the competition calls for films of any genre that show the many attractions that Tokyo has to offer in an effort to popularize the Tokyo Brand, a tourism initiative to promote business enterprises in the Tokyo Metropolis. The competition winner will receive 1,000,000 JPY, which is roughly the equivalent of $10,000 USD.

To be clear, SSFF & ASIA are not only looking for films that take place in Tokyo, but also for films that depict memories of Tokyo, impressions of Tokyo, or even shops in overseas locations that offer an experience of Tokyo. As such you are free to use stock footage from this resource and you can find more info on shooting in Tokyo here. 

The video above is an example of the “Tokyo Cine-magic” project, which encourages people from inside and outside of the country to come and visit Tokyo by promoting the various charms of the city. With this theme, a short film is produced for a special screening in the “Cinematic Tokyo” competition.

The call for entries spans multiple competitions, however. In addition to the Cinematic Tokyo Competition, you can also enter films into the Official Competitions (International, Asia International, Japan), the environmentally themed Save the Earth! Competition, the Music Video Competition, and the cutting-edge CG Animation Competition. A Best Short Award is awarded for each of the three categories in the Official Competition, and the Grand Prix is chosen from among these winners.

The film that wins the Grand Prix will be eligible for nomination at the annual Academy Awards® in the U.S.A. the following year. It's worth noting that SSFF & ASIA winning shorts have quite a track record of winning Academy Awards as well. The 2016 Grand Prix winner, Sing by Kristóf Deák and Anna Udvardy, received the Oscar in 2017.

The submission window is open until January 31, 2018 and you can submit at WithoutaboxFilmFreeway or Shortfilmdepot.

Featured Image: TOKYO GIGANTIC GIRLS by Hiroaki Matsu (Cinematic Tokyo Competition 2017)