Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Side B

  • 123'
  • Japan
  • 2022

Whilst the first half of Kawase Naomi’s extraordinary feat of filmmaking explored the intimate lives of the athletes participating in 2020’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 202Side B turns its scrutiny to the event organisers, workers, politicians and protestors. This sustained attention to the face of the Olympics that is traditionally and pointedly hidden is quietly rebellious – a thrilling peek behind the curtain.

Kawase’s documentarian gaze is piercing, yet she resists polemic, allowing the political nuances and ideological stakes to reveal themselves gradually and deliberately. Look for the streaks of dark humour throughout, as the accumulation of crises takes on an almost farcical quality. Even in the constraints of this official production, there’s a profound subversion of the history of representation of the Olympics – a captivating move away from the narrative of linear, solitary triumph towards disrupted, often chaotic, collaboration.

The film is anchored by its momentum. Yet, as it heads towards its climax of the opening ceremony (a spectacle incorporating traditions of Japanese visual art that is worth seeing in itself), a Kabuki actor performing in the ceremony reflects on the insignificance of the event in the long term.

Kawase has staged an incredible cinematic coup: creating an official document of a momentous event that doubles as a reflection on its transient significance and the fleeting nature of time itself.


Jessica McGoff

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