Press Releases  ·  24 | 02 | 2020

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The forthcoming 73rd edition of the Locarno Film Festival (5 – 15 August 2020) will pay tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto with the Vision Award Ticinomoda. The Japanese composer, musician, and artist will be a guest in Piazza Grande on Thursday August 6. The Festival will be marking the occasion with screenings of three films with music composed by Sakamoto, reflecting the eclecticism of his style and artistic career: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) by Nagisa Oshima, The Last Emperor (1987) by Bernardo Bertolucci, which won both an Oscar and a Grammy Award for Best Original Score, and The Revenant (2015) by Alejandro González Iñárritu, nominated for a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe.

Composer, musician, and artist Ryuichi Sakamoto is to receive the Vision Award Ticinomoda at the 73rd Locarno Film Festival. The Japanese master will be a guest in Piazza Grande on Thursday August 6. The Festival-going public and guests will also have the opportunity to attend a panel discussion with Sakamoto at the Spazio Cinema on the day following the presentation of the award in Piazza Grande (Friday August 7). Additionally, Sakamato will be improvising live on the piano to accompany Yasujirō Ozu’s silent film Tōkyō no onna (Woman of Tokyo,1933), slated for the afternoon of Thursday 6 August, as part of this year’s Locarno Film Festival Retrospective dedicated to actress and director Kinuyo Tanaka.

Lili Hinstin, Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival: “Ryuichi Sakamoto has that paradoxical power of great artists, successfully combining minimalism with extraordinarily dense emotional impact, bringing sound into existence through silence and, in his film scores, contradicting – and thereby enhancing – the obvious intentions of entire sequences. It is more than an honor to be able to welcome a genius of his stature to the Locarno Film Festival.”

Previous laureates of the Vision Award Ticinomoda at earlier Festivals have included Garrett Brown, creator of the Steadicam®, Walter Murch, editor and sound designer, composer Howard Shore, director and graphic designer Kyle Cooper and editor Claire Atherton. The recipient of this year’s award will be one of the world’s most influential contemporary composers, in recognition of how his forceful talents have opened up new perspectives in film. A musical innovator capable of forging together a variety of genres – from pop to jazz and techno – and different cultural traditions, Sakamoto has given to the cinema musical themes and moments that endure among movie fans worldwide and have enriched the work of film masters of the caliber of Bernardo Bertolucci, Nagisa Oshima, Pedro Almodóvar and Brian De Palma.

The 73rd Locarno Film Festival will take place from 5 to 15 August.

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Tribute screening titles

The presentation of the Vision Award Ticinomoda will provide an opportunity to see again on the big screen, during the Locarno Film Festival, some of the major highlights of Sakamoto's career as a film composer:

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, by Nagisa Oshima – United Kingdom/Japan/New Zealand – 1983
The Last Emperor, by Bernardo Bertolucci – China/Italy/United Kingdom/France – 1987
The Revenant, by Alejandro González Iñárritu – USA/Hong Kong/Taiwan – 2015

Sakamoto will also play live piano accompaniment for Yasujirō Ozu's film Tōkyō no onna (Woman of Tokyo, 1933), screening as part of the Locarno Film Festival Retrospective dedicated to actress and director Kinuyo Tanaka.


Ryuichi Sakamoto – Biography

Born in Tokyo in 1952, Ryuichi Sakamoto studied composition from the age of eleven, admiring models as diverse as Claude Debussy and British rock bands. Constantly exploring new areas of artistic research, after gaining a degree in composition from the Tokyo University of the Arts, Sakamoto shifted his interest towards electronic and other music genres. In 1978 he joined the Yellow Magic Orchestra, an electronic pop band that was enormously influential over the coming decades. His film debut came in 1983 as the joint male lead – with David Bowie – in Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, for which he also wrote the music, including the hit theme Forbidden Colours. Sakamoto later collaborated again with Oshima, providing the score for Gohatto (Taboo, 1999). In 1988, thanks to the music for the film The Last Emperor by Bernardo Bertolucci, which he co-wrote with David Byrne and Cong Su, Sakamoto won an Oscar for Best Original Score and a Grammy Award for best album of music written for film or TV, while in 1991 he picked up a Golden Globe for the music for The Sheltering Sky (1990), again directed by Bertolucci.
His other film scores include Little Buddha by Bernardo Bertolucci (1993); Tacones lejanos (High Heels) by Pedro Almodóvar (1991); Snake Eyes (1998) and Femme Fatale (2002) by Brian de Palma; The Revenant by Alejandro González Iñárritu (2015). In 2017 Sakamoto brought out the acclaimed ambient album async and he was the subject of the documentary Ryuichi Sakamoto – Coda, which portrayed the making of the recent studio album and reviewed his career to date. His most recent composition include the “tactile” music for the short film The Staggering Girl by Luca Guadagnino (2019), produced in collaboration with Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, as well as for the films Proxima (2019) by Alice Winocour and Minamata (2020) by Andrew Levitas, with the latter due to be presented at the 2020 Berlinale. For many years Sakamoto has been on the front line of environmental activism, through his forest conservation organization More Trees.