Film Festival Decision Sparks Protests

Film festival decision sparks protests

Protests are erupting over a decision by the organizer of a film festival in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, to cancel the screening of a documentary about those referred to as wartime comfort women.

The organizer of the Kawasaki Shinyuri Film Festival has called off showings of the film "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue."

The non-profit organization Kawasaki Arts says it made the decision because it would not be able to ensure public safety if disruptive behavior and other problems were to occur.

The city of Kawasaki, which co-hosts the festival, had expressed concern about showing the film.

City officials say that some people interviewed in the film had filed lawsuits against its director and distributor, demanding that the release and public showing be banned.

The cancellation has touched off protests by some members of the film industry. They say the decision violates people's freedom of expression and shows excessive consideration for Kawasaki City.

A different production company taking part in the festival has withdrawn two of its works from the event in protest.

Film director Hirokazu Koreeda said at the festival venue on Tuesday that the organizer's decision is unthinkable and shows a lack of respect for the creators.

An actor who appears in one of the films withdrawn in protest said that banning a film for the sake of convenience is dangerous behavior that takes away the freedom of the audience and creators.

The festival organizer says it is planning a meeting to discuss the issue on Wednesday with members of the film industry, the public and staff. The event runs through November 4.