Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Side A

  • 120'
  • Japan
  • 2022
750 days of activity, 5000 hours of footage, an international sporting event rife with controversy in the midst of a global pandemic – the production of an official film for 2020’s Olympic Games in Tokyo was an extraordinary endeavour. The surprising choice of Kawase Naomi, a director known not for scale but for intimacy, to undertake this challenge makes this feat of filmmaking even more fascinating.

Kawase brings a subtle but alluring subversion to this official commission. The Olympics have traditionally attempted to cultivate the myth that the Games transcend identity markers such as nationality, race and gender. In response, Kawase dedicates much of Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Side A to pursuing these very narratives – allowing for a generous and humane gaze that reckons with the personal and political costs of professional athleticism. 

In the snapshots of the athletes and their families, Kawase reveals a rare and remarkable sensitivity, resisting sports documentary tropes and furthering her trailblazing exploration of taboo topics surrounding women’s bodies. There are unexpected questions raised around how the natural world conflicts and coheres with human life, the ephemeral nature of beauty and the ways in which art and sports mirror each other. Side A is an absorbing and profound first half of a remarkable accomplishment.


Jessica McGoff

Kawase Naomi
Dutch Premiere
Country of production
Festival Edition
IFFR 2023
Original title
Tōkyō 2020 orinpikku SIDE: A
Japanese, English
Takebe Yumiko, Kobayashi Sumihiko
Kinoshita Group Co., Ltd
Yamazaki Yutaka
Sound Design
Roman Dymny