2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: TOKYO IDOLS

tokyo idolsTOKYO IDOLS
Kyoko Miyake examines gender and sexuality in Japanese popular culture.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Country:
UK/Canada (about Japan)

Sundance Program Description:

Girl bands and pop music permeate Japanese life. TOKYO IDOLS gets at the heart of a cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality and internet popularity.

Meet Ri Ri: a bona fide Tokyo Idol who takes us on her journey toward fame. Now meet her “brothers:” a group of adult male superfans who devote their lives to following her – in the virtual world and in real life. Once considered to be on the fringes of society, the brothers who gave up salaried jobs to pursue an interest in female idol culture have since become mainstream via the internet, illuminating the growing disconnect between men and women in hypermodern societies.

With her provocative look into the Japanese pop music industry and its focus on traditional beauty ideals, filmmaker Kyoko Miyake confronts the nature of gender power dynamics at work. As the female idols become younger and younger, Miyake offers a critique on the veil of internet fame and the new terms of engagement that are playing out IRL around the globe.

Some Background:
Director/Producer:

  • Kyoko Miyake
    Miyake’s third documentary feature marks her first film in the Sundance lineup. Her first doc, SURVIVING THE TSUNAMI: MY ATOMIC AUNT, received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program in 2012.

Producers:

  • Felix Matschke
    Matschke previously produced Miyake’s second doc, BRAKELESS. This is his Sundance debut.

  • Bob Moore
    Past Sundance docs:

    CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT (2012)
    LAST TRAIN HOME (2010, co-producer)

    Moore is co-president of Montreal-based production company EyeSteelFilm.

Executive Producers:

  • Jutta Krug
    Past Sundance docs:

    HAPPINESS (2014)
    KICK IN IRAN (2010, co-producer)
    ALONE IN FOUR WALLS (2008, producer)

    Krug is commissioning editor for German public television channel WDR. She also previously worked with Miyake on MY ATOMIC AUNT.

  • Nick Fraser and Kate Townsend
    Combined recent past Sundance docs:

    NOTES ON BLINDNESS (2016)
    THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT (2016)
    (T)ERROR (2015)
    CENSORED VOICES (2015)
    THE NOTORIOUS MR BOUT (2014)
    HAPPINESS
    PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (2013)
    GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN (2013)

    Fraser was the longtime commissioning editor for BBC’s Storyville until his recent departure; his former colleague Townsend now oversees the strand.

  • Margje de Koning
    Past Sundance docs:

    FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS (2012)

    de Koning is the documentary commissioning editor for Dutch broadcaster IKON. She previously commissioned Miyake’s BRAKELESS and MY ATOMIC AUNT. She also commissioned fellow 2017 World Cinema Documentary Competition entry WINNIE.

  • Axel Arnö
    Past Sundance docs:

    PERVERT PARK (2015, commissioning editor)
    THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 (2011)

    Arnö is commissioning editor for Sweden’s public television station SVT. He previously commissioned MY ATOMIC AUNT.

  • Tore Tomter
    Past Sundance docs:

    PERVERT PARK
    THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975

    Tomter is senior editor of documentaries at NRK, Norway.

  • Mette Hoffmann Meyer
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE CHINESE MAYOR (2015)
    PERVERT PARK
    THE NOTORIOUS MR BOUT
    HAPPINESS
    PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER
    GOD LOVES UGANDA (2013)
    CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT
    THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (2012)
    PUTIN’S KISS (2012)
    THE AMBASSADOR (2012)
    BURMA VJ (2009)
    DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT: A NATION’S JOURNEY (2008)
    THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK (2007)
    THE LIBERACE OF BAGHDAD (2005)
    WHY WE FIGHT (2005)
    CONTROL ROOM (2004)

    Hofmann Meyer was the longtime head of docs at Danish broadcaster DR TV until this past Fall.

  • Melissa Kajpust
    Kajpust is head of creative development at Canada’s Super Channel. This is her first Sundance credit.

  • Maureen Levitt
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE CORPORATION (2004, consulting producer)

    Levitt is also an exec with Super Channel.

  • Julie Di Cresce
    Canada’s First Generation Films VP of television Di Cresce was formerly with Super Channel.

Editor:

  • Anna Price
    This marks Price’s first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
MIyake offers an insightful look at Japan’s ever-surprising penchant for strange subcultures and popular culture obsessions, while also exploring stunted ideas of romance and relationships and their interaction with the new virtual reality of the online realm.

More Info:
Meet the Artist

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

One response to “2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: TOKYO IDOLS

  1. i am a huge idol fangirl. so i got pretty stoked about this although i know idol culture in and out but whatever. i do not know this artist though! great post! do you have any idea where i can view it? ive been looking :/

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