Refugee Film Festival Starts in Tokyo with Documentaries from Afghanistan, South Sudan, Venezuela, Others

Courtesy of Japan for UNHCR
Musician and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Miyavi, left, and actress Suzu Hirose attend the opening ceremony of the 18th Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo on Monday.

The plight of refugees from some of the world’s most turbulent places are being presented at an annual film festival in Tokyo, which opened on Monday evening.

The 18th Refugee Film Festival in Japan, which was started in 2006 to promote understanding and support for refugees, will screen six documentaries about crisis hot-spots such as Afghanistan, South Sudan and Venezuela, both online and at event venues through Nov. 30.

The festival is organized by an association called Japan for UNHCR, which provides local support for the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Actress Suzu Hirose and musician Miyavi, who is serving as a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, were special guests at the opening ceremony, which was held at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

“It is sometimes difficult to get directly involved, but I hope various messages will reach as many people as possible through this film festival,” said Hirose, who last year launched a project to generate support for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Miyavi has been a UNHCR goodwill ambassador since 2017 and has traveled to refugee camps throughout the world. Referring to current conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, he said: “We cannot go to the battlefield and stop the war, but I think the most important thing is to not turn our eyes away from the global situation.”

According to the UNHCR, 110 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as of the end of June. The film festival aims to highlight how ordinary lives can be suddenly disrupted, and how people find the strength to overcome adversity.

Among the films are “The Mind Game,” which follows an Afghan teenager’s two-year journey to Europe through videos he filmed on his smartphone, and “And Still I Sing,” which documents efforts of Afghan pop star and activist Aryana Sayeed and two other women to win a TV singing competition, which were disrupted when the Taliban returned to power.

Another film called “No Simple Way Home” is about the family of late South Sudan independence leader John Garang. It was directed by his daughter.

Tickets for the films can be acquired online for free, but viewers are encouraged to make a ¥1,000 donation for one film or ¥3,000 for all six. Profits will be used to support refugees through the UNHCR.

More information is available in Japanese at the official website: