“If you yourself do not burn like the fish that live in the depths of the sea,
there will be no light anywhere.”

This quote was filmmaker Nagisa Oshima's personal motto,
which is now engraved on his tombstone.
Oshima first came upon this quote by Kaijin Akashi (1901-1939), a poet who suffered from leprosy, when he was 20 years old. During his lifetime, Oshima initiated the "Shochiku Nouvelle Vague" (New Wave), shot numerous masterpieces after founding an independent film production, won the award for Best Director at Cannes, and continued to work with a global vision. Alongside such achievements, he served on the jury of the Pia Film Festival for years and watched hundreds of 8mm films submitted to the competition to encourage the next generation of filmmakers.
The Oshima Prize will be awarded, along with this quote, to young filmmakers who continue to break new ground and step out into the world,
just like Nagisa Oshima did long ago.


The Oshima Prize will be awarded to young, new talents who pioneer the future of film and attempt to spread their wings around the world.
The PFF Award Competition discovers new talents in film.
The PFF Scholarship nurtures these discovered talents.
The Oshima Prize will then launch these talents onto the global stage.
We look forward to presenting this new award to next-generation filmmakers who follow in the footsteps of Nagisa Oshima, who aimed high and took on challenges on an international scale.


Born in 1932 in Kyoto, Japan, Nagisa Oshima graduated with a degree in law from Kyoto University and joined Shochiku Studios as an assistant director in 1954. He made his directorial debut in 1959 with A Town of Love and Hope. He then directed works that presented fresh techniques such as Cruel Story of Youth (1960) and Night and Fog in Japan (1960), catapulting him into the limelight. In 1961, he left Shochiku and founded his production company Sozo-sha. He went on to direct numerous works including Sing a Song of Sex (1967), Death by Hanging (1968), Boy (1969), The Ceremony (1971) and more. After founding Oshima Nagisa Productions in 1975, his Japan-France co-production In the Realm of the Senses (1976) received high international acclaim, and he won the award for Best Director at the 31st Cannes Film Festival for Empire of Passion (1978). He directed other internationally produced films such as Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) and Max mon amour (1986). His last film was Taboo (1999). He was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) in 2001 from the French Ministry of Culture. Oshima passed away in 2013 at the age of 80. He was a member of the Pia Film Festival jury from 1979 to 1988.


  • Filmmakers working in Japan with around three theatrically released works.

  • As a general rule, the filmmaker must have released a work the prior year.

Method of Evaluation

Every year, five filmmakers will be nominated by people in the movie industry of all nationalities, age, and careers, based in Japan and elsewhere, who are well versed in Japanese cinema, e.g. film festival directors, festival programmers, movie journalists, etc. The jury will then select one recipient.


Photo by zakkubalan ©2017 Kab Inc.


Award-winning artist Ryuichi Sakamoto was born in 1952 in Tokyo, Japan. He made his solo debut with Thousand Knives in 1978 and founded the pioneering electro-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) the same year. After the group disbanded, he continued to produce music in various fields including cinema. He first composed music for film in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) - where he met Nagisa Oshima for the first time - for which he won Best Film Music at the 37th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA Awards). He has won numerous other awards since, including an Oscar (60th) and Grammy (31st) for his work in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (1987), and more. He is internationally renowned for his tireless pursuit of innovative sound. His more recent film works include Yoji Yamada's Nagasaki: Memories of My Son (2015), Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant (2015), and Tsai Ming-liang's Your Face (2019), for which he won the 21st Taipei Film Awards for Best Music.


Kiyoshi Kurosawa / Filmmaker

Filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa was born in 1955 in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. He became a finalist in the 4th Pia Film Festival 1981 with Shigarami gakuen, which he self-produced as a university student. He first garnered international attention with Cure in 1997 and has been awarded three times at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulse (2000), Tokyo Sonata (2008), and Journey to the Shore (2015). His more recent works include Seventh Code (2013), which was awarded Best Director at the Rome Film Fest, the France/Belgium/Japan co-production Daguerreotype (2016), and To the Ends of the Earth (2019), filmed in Uzbekistan. He has spoken at length about the beauty of Nagisa Oshima's Death by Hanging and Sing a Song of Sex with genuine respect for the late master filmmaker.

Keiko Araki / Director, Pia Film Festival

Keiko Araki joined Pia Film Festival (PFF) in 1990 and became PFF's first general director in 1992. Since then, she has been influential in discovering and nurturing young filmmaking talent through the PFF Award Competition, while organizing retrospectives of such masters as Douglas Sirk and Michael Haneke - the first of its kind in Asia - for the film fest's Invited Works section that presents the past and future of cinema. In recent years, she has focused on introducing not only PFF-related works but also Japanese independent film in general to viewers outside of Japan, and continues to work towards communicating the appeal of Japanese cinema to a wide audience.
She invited Nagisa Oshima to serve as the President of the Jury in the 15th Pia Film Festival in 1992.

The Winner

The first Oshima Prize goes to Oda Kaori

©Miura Hiroyuki

Oda Kaori

Born in 1987 in Osaka Prefecture, Japan, Oda Kaori is a filmmaker/artist who explores human memories (voices) - where did we come from, and where are we headed? - through images and sound.

From 2013, she participated in Tarr Béla's (Sátántangó, The Turin Horse) film.factory program to educate new filmmakers, and completed the three-year PhD-level academic course as one of the first generation of students. In 2014, she was designated as an overseas researcher by the Pola Art Foundation.

Oda’s first feature-length film, ARAGANE (2015), shot in a Bosnian coal mine received high acclaim and was commercially released in 2016. Her essayistic documentary film Toward A Common Tenderness was completed in 2017. Her latest feature-length work Cenote was completed in 2019 and premiered in Japan and worldwide at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Cenote is set for theatrical release in Japan in June 2020.

Jury’s Comments

President of the Jury
Sakamoto Ryuichi

Oshima Nagisa was a filmmaker who consistently depicted people impacted by country, power, history, or national borders. He also stood up against common sense. He was a filmmaker and also a philosopher.

When considering who deserved a prize named after such a brilliant director, the only filmmaker that I could think of in today’s Japan was Ms. Oda Kaori. Her latest work Cenote was filmed in natural sinkholes in Mexico that Mayans regarded as sacred. As you probably know, the Mayans were basically wiped out around 500 years ago when Europeans invaded their land, though some of their descendants still survive making a meager living. Cenote does not express this background in a direct way, but the 500 years of suffering of the Mayan people permeates from the screen. I was impressed by how this aligns with Mr. Oshima’s philosophy.

While the spirit of the Oshima Prize is to award young filmmakers who are about to step out on the global stage, Ms. Oda has already spread her wings around the world and is not struggling within the confines of Japan. Her previous film called ARAGANE is also fabulous, but her latest film Cenote is several times better, so I hope many people see it.

Kurosawa Kiyoshi

I had the honor of seeing Ms. Oda Kaori’s works for the first time and was convinced. I initially thought that it would be extremely difficult to find a filmmaker among the young people in Japan today who would be worthy of a prize named after Oshima Nagisa. I agreed to serve as a judge while wondering who should be awarded with such an honor, but after encountering Ms. Oda’s works, I knew that nobody else deserved it more than her.

This is a very weighty prize, and I hope she continues to make more quality works in the future.

The trophy features Oshima Nagisa’s personal motto made from a rubbing of the self-written version engraved on his tombstone.

This trophy and supplementary prize of a million yen were awarded to Ms. Oda.

Made by: Terada Naoki / Terada Design
Rubbing by: Tokyo Bunbutsu

The winner’s Comment

Oda Kaori

I’m very honored to receive the inaugural Oshima Prize. I’d like to thank everyone involved in this award.

Last spring, I was given an opportunity to visit the Nagashima-Aiseien national leprosy sanitorium in Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture. I saw the ossuary, the wards, and also went through the museum of history. I came across Akashi Kaijin’s poetry anthology there and was inspired by the preface, which includes the quote that Mr. Oshima lived by as his personal motto. I learned about people quarantined because of the nation’s foolish policy, the Leprosy Prevention Law, who lost their names, suffered from high fever and nerve damage, lost their sight, and yet wrote poetry, painted with brushes, and played music, draining what vital energy they still had.

People who live facing limited time and impossible irrationalities still need to express themselves, risking their lives, in order to find light and survive.

As I live making films from now on, I’m sure I’ll often come up against hardships. When I do, I’d like to recall Mr. Oshima’s motto and those people who really lived. I intend to continue down the path of cinema by continually questioning myself whether I am currently living and expressing as if my own vital energy and life depended on it.

◎Congratulatory from the master Hungarian filmmaker Tarr Béla, who instructed Ms. Oda.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Kaori,

First of all, I would like to congratulate to you and I want to confess for you, I am very proud of you. I had a luck to meet with you, for me it was one of my gift from the life.
Because you understand what is the meaning of the filmmaking.
You understood the film is not story telling, the film is our reflextions for the life, to share with other people our experiencies in a very tender way.
Human faces, human touch, respect for nature and believe the future.
You had done and you are doing....

Now, I just want to say a big thanks for yor work, for your honesty, for your strength and I just want to ask you: PLEASE GO AHEAD!

Big hug,


Mr. Oshima Nagisa’s widow and actress Koyama Akiko presented Ms. Oda with a pocket watch, which is something Mr. Oshima used regularly. Their names are engraved on the inside of the lid.


CEREMONY Date: Thursday, March 19, 2020
Place: Marunouchi Hall, Tokyo
*No tickets will be made available for this event.
COMMEMORATIVE SCREENING Films by the prize winner and Nagisa Oshima are scheduled for screening. (Guest appearance also scheduled.)
Date: Friday (Holiday), March 20, 2020
Place: Marunouchi Hall, Tokyo
More information