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Friday, Jan. 4, 2013

OSAKA

Cut straight to the commercial at 'World's CM Festival' event


By TOMOHIRO OSAKI
Staff writer

Japan's TV commercials are notorious worldwide for their perceived oddities and random Western-celebrity appearances. However, that's nothing compared to the frustrating tendency of TV programs to cut to commercial break just as, say, viewers are about to find out some big piece of information.

News photo
Ad hoc: Stills from ads to be shown at "The World's CM Festival" include works advertising the World Wildlife Fund (top), beverage Schweppes (middle) and France's Canal Plus channel (bottom).

No such frustrations will arise at "The World's CM Festival 2013" in Osaka this Saturday, though — where it's straight to the commercial. The all-night event is the Japanese equivalent of France's "La Nuit des Publivores," which, since its kickoff in 1981, has been traveling the world.

Fukuoka-based teacher Jean Christian Bouvier spearheaded its Japanese-style adaptation and launched the event in 1999. Its popularity rapidly spread, and it toured to Tokyo, Okinawa and Hokkaido.

Whether comical or thought-provoking, commercial works selected for the festival all have carefully scripted story lines and are often concluded with a witty punchline. The best of the best tend to come off less as ads and more as film shorts.

Highlights for this Saturday's event include a commercial directed by the award-winning filmmaker Kirk Hendry created to raise public awareness of the World Wildlife Fund's "Save the Cerrado" initiative. Comprised exclusively of hand-shadow puppetry, the animation calls for protection of wildlife in the Brazilian savannah left vulnerable to the danger of becoming extinct.

Additionally, commercials from around the world include works from Britain, China, France and Australia. Subtitles are provided in Japanese.

The festival will also feature some guest performers such as Tokyo-based Latin-music band "Coloridas" and Kyoto-based "Drakskip," a quartet specializing in music from northern Europe.

"The World's CM Festival 2013 in Osaka" takes place at Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka on Jan. 5. It moves to Ishikawa, Kanagawa Pref., on Feb. 2; Sapporo on March 9; Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on March 10; and Nagoya on March 24. Tickets cost ¥ 5,000. For more information, call (092) 843-7370, or visit www.cmfestival.com.


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