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In a glorious finale to the 76th Cannes Film Festival, esteemed Japanese actor Koji Yakusho claimed the prestigious Best Actor award for his remarkable performance in Wim Wenders' cinematic masterpiece, "Perfect Days." Yakusho's victory marks a historic moment for Japanese cinema, as he becomes the first Japanese actor to receive this honor since the legendary Ken Takakura in 1985.

Koji Yakusho, winner of best actor for his role in the film "Perfect Days," delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of the 76th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 27. © Reuters

This triumph by Yakusho shines a spotlight on the resurgent strength of Japanese cinema, which has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years. As Sandra Perovic, a prominent TV host and critic who served as a juror at the JSFF in 2018, aptly noted, "It seems that no major international festival can be complete without a Japanese title," highlighting the growing impact of Japanese films at esteemed events like Cannes, Berlin, and Venice.

The 76th Cannes Film Festival showcased an exceptional lineup of Japanese films, further solidifying the country's cinematic prowess. Joining Yakusho in the spotlight was the gifted Sakamoto Yuji, who received the esteemed Best Screenplay award for his enthralling dark comedy, "Monster." Yuji's triumph adds another accolade to his illustrious career and reinforces the enduring legacy of Japanese storytelling.


Describing the essence of Japanese cinema is a complex task, as it constantly evolves and draws inspiration from diverse cultural influences. It is a tapestry woven with threads of Western cinema, Japanese and world literature, and a fusion of modern and traditional Japanese art forms. This rich tapestry of influences has given rise to a uniquely vibrant and captivating film culture in Japan.

While some argue that Japanese cinema is a purely national art form, characterized by its exclusive use of Japanese language, actors, and settings, others contend that it is a cross-cultural phenomenon. They point to the inclusion of foreign actors and settings in many Japanese films as evidence of its global sensibilities. It's worth delving into the history and recognizing the profound foreign influence on luminaries like Akira Kurosawa, who drew inspiration from the works of John Ford and Shakespeare, as evidenced in his masterpieces "RAN" (an adaptation of "King Lear") and "Throne of Blood" (an adaptation of "Macbeth"). Let us not forget that the iconic jidaigeki film, "Seven Samurai," received significant support from French investors, underscoring the enduring cross-cultural collaborations in Japanese cinema.

In recent years, we have witnessed a surge in cross-country collaborations, with directors like Koreeda Hirokazu venturing beyond Japan to film in France or Korea. Additionally, the success of TV dramas such as "Tokyo Vice" demonstrates the increasing popularity of co-productions. Japanese cinema is a reflection of its time—a delightful blend of national heritage and global influences that encapsulates the diverse fabric of Japanese society.

Can we expect to learn from those examples and embrace co-productions and cross cultural content in following years? It’s definitely worthy discussion to have!


On behalf of the Japanese-Serbian Film Festival (JSFF) committee, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Koji Yakusho and Sakamoto Yuji for their extraordinary achievements at the 76th Cannes Film Festival. Their triumphs serve as a testament to the indomitable spirit of Japanese cinema and the burgeoning global interest in Japanese culture.

The JSFF is a cross-cultural film festival that celebrates the very best of Japanese and Serbian cinema. We remain dedicated to fostering understanding and appreciation between these two nations and the broader regions they represent through the powerful medium of film. We are thrilled to announce that the 10th JSFF will take place in Belgrade, Serbia, in November 2023.

Join us for an unforgettable celebration of cinema!


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