The first films of the Kodansha Cinema Creators’ Lab are completed! “SAGE” has been selected for film festivals in Germany & UK!

The first films of the Kodansha Cinema Creators’ Lab are completed! “SAGE” has been selected for film festivals in Germany & UK!

“Kodansha Cinema Creators’ Lab”, a project to support film creators. The five directors selected back in 2022, have now successfully completed their short films.

We are pleased to share the exciting news from Germany and the U.K. about “SAGE” which has made its way into the film festival ahead of the others, as well as information on all five films!

Selected for Independent Days International Film Festival (Germany) & Crystal Palace International Film Festival (UK)!

“SAGE,” directed by Max Blustin, was selected early for the Independent Days International Film Festival in Germany and the Crystal Palace International Film Festival in the UK!

The Independent Days International Film Festival in Germany is one of the major film festivals in Europe.

The Crystal Palace International Film Festival in the UK is ranked the 3rd most popular film festival by reviews on Film Freeway, the world’s largest film festival submission platform, and accredited by the British Independent Film Festival.

Director Max Blustin’s comment

“SAGE” is now finished and has been selected for two film festivals so far. We hope the film will resonate with audiences and look forward to following its progress. Thank you again to Kodansha for creating such a great opportunity.

This has been a great start for the first-term directors who aim to win awards at film festivals in Japan and abroad. We will keep you updated on future awards and selections for international film festivals on our official website!

Introducing the first term award-winners


A trilogy of short films themed on “the power of words” directed and written by a British filmmaker.

Production: New Planet Film & Media (5min)
Director/Screenplay: Max Blustin

The series themed around “the power of words” that can even cause chemical changes in the human body. The third film is the final of the series. In order to express the “authentic transformation,” all three films were produced in one take with no editing.

The first film, “Sorceress” (starring Nathalie Emmanuel), was officially screened at festivals around the world, including the Woodstock Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, and Rome Independent Film Festival.

The second film, “A Magician,” won awards or was nominated and officially screened in New York, Los Angeles, Florida, Alaska, Korea, Europe, and the United Kingdom, and won the Grand Prix at the 19th Tres Côtes Film Festival in Paris.

Blustin is the owner and founder of his own film production company, New Planet Film & Media. He began his career with a film he made as a student, “Before Midnight,” which won the Best Fiction Film Award at the UK’s national student film festival, Screentest. “The History Of Chance” premiered at the Academy Awards® accredited Raindance Film Festival in London, and won the Grand Prix at the Canadian International Film Festival.

Film detail page

“A Dream for My Daughter”

Filmed in Cambodia by a third-generation Japanese-Brazilian director. A black fantasy about a father and daughter.
Production: LUPI FILMS (24min.)
Director/Screenplay: Mauricio Osaki

Director Osaki is a third generation Japanese-Brazilian living in Vietnam. He is a member of the Academy. His previous film, “My Father’s Truck,” was shortlisted for an Academy Award* and screened at more than 100 film festivals, including the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. This film depicts the wealth disparity and immigration issues based on his background, as well as the father and daughter bond. Filmed in Cambodia by a Brazilian director with funding from a Japanese publisher, and edited in London by his former teacher at NYU in the US, this is truly an international film . The film is in Cambodian with Japanese and English subtitles.

Osaki has made many films for global companies including Unilever, Uber, HP, Samsung, and Google.

Film Detail Page

*List of Oscar nominees at the stage where the nominees have been narrowed down to a few dozen films which are presented annually.

“Draw me.”

A challenging mission to create a fusion of manga and live action. 
Starring: Momoko Kobayashi and Erika Takizawa
Production: ROBOT (19 min)
Director/Screenplay: Kohei Kiyasu

Kohei Kiyasu graduated from Hiroshima University’s Faculty of Education in 1997 with a degree in fine arts. In 2000, he launched the unit “Bulldogging Headlock,” where he does both screenplay and directing. This unit has held 30 full-length performances in the past 20 years.

In 2013, he won the Japan Academy Award for Best Screenplay for “Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo” (Director: Daihachi Yoshida).

He is also a renowned voice actor, with his role of Makunouchi Kazuho in “Hajime no Ippo.” being the most notable. 

“Draw me.” tells the story of Koyori, a high school girl who aspires to become a manga artist. During the journey, she faces the violent nature of expression. Koyori is forced to refrain from writing manga after her work was deemed malicious and harmful. However, she is moved by the praise of one of her classmates and it becomes increasingly difficult for her to conceal her passion. Eventually, she discovers what “seems” to be the truth and witnesses the loneliness of her classmate.

Film Detail Page

“what YOU eat”

A controversial work that is both “cute” and “scary” directed by a current university student. Raising issues of lookism and sympathy for “cute”.
Starring: Akana Ikeda and Aki Suda
Production: AOI Pro. (15 min)
Director/Screenplay: Sena Ryo

Director Sena is a 20-year-old female university student. She once gave up her creative career and went on to higher education, but her first film “Hajimete no Yoasobi” won the Grand Prix at the “Hulu U35 Creators Challenge” held in 2022. She is currently working on a full-length film as a supplementary prize.

This film, “what YOU eat,” tells the story of a high school girl who “loves cute things” and aspires to become even cuter herself. The theme of the film is to raise awareness about the problems regarding lookism while also discussing our innate “desire to be prettier” based on her experience of overcoming her fear of disfigurement.

Film Detail Page

“Warmth in a Puddle” (Special Award)

The only animation work in the first films. A cutting-edge work by a young and featured artist in the industry.
Director/Screenplay/Animation: Sorao Sakimura

Born in 2001. Filmmaker and animator. Currently enrolled in the Faculty of Art and Design, Kyushu University. At the age of 18, he produced the short animation “Cicada’s Voice, Wind’s Touch”, which won the Grand Prix at the “WIRED CREATIVE HACK AWARD 2020” as the youngest winner. He was selected as one of the 100 filmmakers 2023 NEWCOMER in the “100 filmmakers + NEWCOMER 100”. “Warmth in a Puddle” is an animated short film that fantastically expresses the “difficulty of living” in his own world.

Film Detail Page

The five completed films have been submitted to film festivals around the world, including the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2024 to be held in June (venue: Shibuya Ward, etc.).

Please stay tuned for more information on the journey of the five first-term directors as their works disperse around the world!

The selection of projects for the second term is currently underway. Applications for the third term will be accepted from 1st of August, 2024.

We look forward to hearing from all film creators!

■Cinema Creators’ Lab. Official

■The Independent Days International Film Festival Official

■Crystal Palace International Film Festival Official