One of the largest international short film festivals in Asia, which is also a qualifying film festival for the annual Academy Awards®, the 22nd annual Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia (SSFF & ASIA) was held this year as a 2020 Japan Cultural Expo-sponsored and co-sponsored event. Participants explored the aesthetic sense unique to Japan, such as "Wabi Sabi" and "Iki", which have been an indispensable part of Japanese culture since ancient times, by utilizing the characteristics of short films and images gathered from all over the world.

One of the projects under the Japan Cultural Expo collaborations, "Discover Beauty Symposium" was held ONLINE during the SSFF & ASIA festival in September. In this ONLINE event, filmmakers were invited from all over the world who have been active in the audio-visual and film industry, and together, they explored “Japanese beauty with the aesthetic sense of the world.” A selection of short films regarding the theme of "Beauty" was also screened during the symposium, including New York Rhapsody by Salvatore D'Alia, Printed Rainbow by Gitanjali Rao, and Future is MINE – AINU MY VOICE – by Daichi Tomida.

Japan Cultural Expo

The symposium was moderated by Chuk Besher and panelists include:

  • Salvatore D'Alia (New York Rhapsody)
  • Gitanjali Rao (Printed Rainbow)
  • Daichi Tomida (Future is MINE – AINU MY VOICE –
  • Ben Suzuki
  • Tsutomu Hirabayashi

You can watch the entire symposium below, so please enjoy the films as well as the discussion.

The slate of films is quite impressive, as well as each director's insight into how their films communicate the symposium's theme of beauty. 

Salvatore D'Alia's short film New York Rhapsody, which plays almost like a love letter to the titular city, follows three creatives that "hustle and fight against and within the rhythm of the city" as they chase after their artistic visions. Despite this creative struggle, D'Alia explains how he used one of the most famous pieces of music to communicate the beauty of the city. "Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue has always kind of been like my soundtrack, in a way, in New York...I always wanted to just tell the story of the city through the entirety of that track of beautiful music."

Gitanjali Rao explains how she worked to capture the beauty of paintings in her film Printed Rainbow, which takes viewers along on the journey of an old woman and her cat through "the fantastical world of matchbox covers." Rao says, "For me, animation is essentially an extension of painting. There is a sense of aesthetics...a sense of beauty...a sense of telling stories in paintings, which I take forward through the medium of animation."

Daichi Tomida touches on the beauty of differences and contrast in his film Future is MINE – AINU MY VOICE –."Two aspects struck me as I was creating the film. The natural beauty of Hokkaido juxtaposed against the beauty of the everglades of Florida. Also, the aesthetic beauty of both the Ainu and Seminole dress...the role that contrast plays accentuates beauty."

The Discover Beauty symposium, which was originally streamed live on September 21st, is now published and available to watch for free. Check it out below:

Head on over to the Discover Beauty website to learn more.

Source: Short Shorts - Discover Beauty