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Winners & Special Mentions: Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival 2023

Thank you to all the filmmakers who participated in the 2023 Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival. It has been a fantastic experience witnessing so many filmmakers taking part and the tremendous global support for authentic independent cinema.

After meticulous scrutiny, the judges' evaluations have been combined with the audience's feedback. We extend our warmest congratulations to the filmmakers who graced our screens! In particular, we commend the following films for their exceptional contribution...


Festival Winners

We are thrilled to announce the winners of the Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival in their respective categories! Huge congratulations to all the winners!


Dir. Masaki Katsuyama
Synopsis:An old Japanese mother, Haruko comes to Tokyo from Osaka to see her 30 years old son, Shuji.
Her purpose of the visit is setting up a matchmaking for him because he is still a single man. However, Shuji already uses a matching app to find his partner. On the other hand, Haruko cannot trust the app, so she tries to convince him quit using it.
There is a huge gap occurs in between the parent and child.

Short Listed for Best Short Film

The Wake

Dir. Doug Turner
Synopsis: Scotland’s inshore was once one of the most abundant ecosystems in the world, millions of fish swarmed to the coastline year round to feed, reproduce and replenish the environment. The Scottish fishing industry thrived on taking only what was necessary, and allowing the rest to go unharmed. As with most natural resources, the last 100 years has seen a catastrophic change.Through the eyes of two fishermen who have been calling for change their entire careers, The Wake explores the deep emotion that comes with witnessing the end of something once thought infinite and the loss of communities in the name of progress.

Short Listed for Best Short Documentary & Best First-Time Filmmaker

Inter-Continental Bunker Mission (I.C.B.M.)

Dir. Julian Vogel
Synopsis: Two friends without a clue set out on a journey to survive the end of the world. An atomic cocktail of journalistic, archival, and D.I.Y. Bunker Building, I.C.B.M. addresses the ever growing survivalism trend, the personal price of survival, and the perpetual state of preparedness the world has found itself in since the birth of the atomic bomb.

Short Listed for Best Feature Documentary

Your Kid

Dir. Sergi Castella
Synopsis: “Tu Niño” is a love letter from a son yearning to connect with his distant father. It follows the journey of gypsy flamenco dancer, El Niño, who left his conservative community in Spain to immerse himself in the city of Los Angeles. Unsure of what he is searching for he loses himself to the underworld of a decaying society. A visual poem set to the rhythm of his “taconeo” that explores the individualism and alienation that comes when one leaves home. Staring up at the same moon as his father, from different perspectives, he now tries to communicate his loneliness reflecting on his origins with resurrected longing.

Short Listed for Best Screenplay & Best Cinematography

Short Listed Films

The Lift-Off Season Awards is an annual event that celebrates the very best of indie film. Following each Lift-Off film festival, films that have excelled in their respective category are short listed for a Season Awards Nomination.  At the end of the year, once all the 12 city-based festival have taken place, the shortlisted nominated films are reviewed again by the jury and Official Nominations are designated.  Click here for more information about the Lift-Off Season Awards.


Dir. Sayaka Nakane
Synopsis:The Koto is a traditional Japanese instrument. It makes a very beautiful and emotional sound. There is a Japanese expression that says, "Touch the Koto strings." This means "Tug at my heartstrings".
When I heard her performance, her Koto sound tugged at my heartstrings and almost cried. Also, since the KOTO is a traditional Japanese instrument, it is a very closed world. But she is trying new things without being caught in that frame.
The video also represents Tokyo in her new interpretation of traditional Japan in the modern age.

Short Listed for Best Music Video


Dir. Fabián Palacios V.
Synopsis: Julián, a Mexican is teenage boy torn between pursuing his frustrated passion for music and helping out his single mother. He is faced with a decision to steal the trumpet of an old street performer to prove himself a man in front of his friends..

Short Listed for Best First-Time Film

May The Pawn Reaches The End

Dir. Tien Yuan
Synopsis: On the afternoon of the high school graduation, Xiaomei experienced her own unique growth.

Short Listed for Best First-Time Film

Stages of Lost Freedom

Dir. Kamran S Rosen
Synopsis: Derek 'Dice' Livingston was incarcerated for nearly two decades , during which time he kept a journal of his thoughts. Mirroring the stages of loss—denial, depression, bargaining, anger, and acceptance— this animation uses Dice's own words and narration to show the emotional journey of losing one's identity to long term incarceration, with each entry brought to life by a different animator.

Short Listed for Best Animation


Dir. Jurg Slabbert
Synopsis: An Afrikaans-speaking man helps his elderly German neighbour in a time of need, despite a language barrier. In the process, he learns volumes about himself.

Short Listed for Best Acting ensemble

Globby the Dragon

Dirs. Yun Li, Xin Sun
Synopsis: A unique story about the meaning of language, told in a wordless format. A deaf and blind elderly man visits the vet with his pet dragon Globby. Despite the language barrier, love transcends the boundaries of language in their profound relationship.

Short Listed for Best Animation

Audience Choice

The Audience Choice award is given to the filmmakers whose film received the most votes during the festival. The filmmakers will be invited to join us on the Lift-Off YouTube channel for a directors commentary roundtable. Join in the conversation as we delve deeper into each film.


Dir.Richeler Aladin
Synopsis: An anonymous user posting prediction videos on the country's future goes viral as they end up being right. However, things take a turn when the masked user must get the help from the detective that's hunting him down.


Dir. Krystal Kelley
Synopsis: Through the eye of the beer holder, Hammpions provides a brief history of Hamm's Beer as well as interviews beer sign collectors, Hamm's family members, Hamm's artists and Hamm's Beer Club members.


Dir.Robert Fritz
Synopsis: A master poet loses her muse but tries to pass on her art and craft to a young talented poet.