Khoo’s animated feature on Tatsumi selected for Cannes

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.

Eric Khoo’s “Tatsumi,” an animated feature about manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi, the father of the comic genre called “gekiga” (dramatic pictures), will be screened at the 64th Cannes International Film Festival, festival officials said April 14.

The Singaporean director’s nod to Tatsumi, 75, will be screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the renowned film festival, which runs May 11-22.

Khoo says he decided to make his first animated feature about Tatsumi after being inspired by the manga artist’s “A Drifting Life,” a semi-autobiographical comic book.

The animated film is a Singapore-Indonesia coproduction and is distributed by a German company, The Match Factory GmbH.

Actor Tetsuya Bessho was picked to voice the main character in the 94-minute, Japanese-language film.

Cannes rarely chooses animated films for screenings. As well, the multinational framework of the production marks this film as exceptional. It could prove an interesting example of how to develop and market Japan-related content overseas.

Born in Singapore, director Khoo studied filmmaking in Australia. He shot to international fame after his critically acclaimed 1995 “Mee Pok Man” was showcased at the Venice and the Berlin film festivals.

The director is not new to Cannes; his 1997 feature “12 Storeys” was screened in Un Certain Regard and his 2008 “My Magic” was selected for competition.

Khoo is considered a leading light in the film industry of southeast Asia.
Tatsumi is a pioneering manga artist who came to prominence in the 1950s. A core member of the Gekiga Kobo group of manga artists, Tatsumi helped forge the new gekiga style that eventually evolved into modern Japanese manga.

His reputation grew in the 2000s in the United States and Europe, and he is now regarded among Japan’s leading manga artists.

Tatsumi won multiple awards for his “A Drifting Life,” including two Eisner Awards and the Manga Grand Prix of the 13th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.

The Cannes film festival includes the competition division under which films vie for the prestigious Palme d’Or, and Un Certain Regard, which features younger filmmakers. Out-of-competition films will also be screened, including an opening film.

This year, 19 titles were selected for competition, including two Japanese films: Naomi Kawase’s “Hanezu no Tsuki” and Takashi Miike’s “Ichimei” (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai).

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