Takeshi Kitano’s Office Kitano to receive Premio Raimondo Rezzonico award.

Takeshi Kitano’s production company Office Kitano is to be feted at Locarno with the Premio Raimondo Rezzonico award, bestowed upon a risk-taking independent producer or company.

Office Kitano officially became a production company in 1991, producing actor-director Kitano’s third feature, A Scene at the Sea. All of Kitano’s films have been produced under the label since.

Office Kitano president Masayuki Mori began producing films with other directors in 1998, beginning with Ikinai, directed by Hiroshi Shimizu, and in 2000 the company began collaborating with director Jia Zhangke, as well as producer Shôzô Ichiyama.

The outfit also launched TOKYO FILMeX in 2000, a film festival that aims to highlight independent cinema

President Moro and producer Ichiyama will be present at Locarno to receive the award and speak to the public, and the festival will screen three films in tribute: Hana-bi (1997) and Dolls (2002), both directed by Kitano, and Unknown Pleasures, directed by Jia Zhangke.

Locarno artistic director Carlo Chatrian stated: “Not only because we love the Japanese actor-director’s productions but also because of the studio’s stated desire to support young Japanese filmmakers, and work with other major directors, such as Jia Zhangke.

“An award is both a recognition for the work they have done and an encouragement to continue in the path they have chosen: both are completely appropriate in the case of Office Kitano, to whom we wish a brilliant future.”

The Premio Raimondo Rezzonico award was first given in 2002 in memory of Raimondo Rezzonico, president of the Locarno Film Festival for nearly 20 years.

Previous award winners include Paulo Branco, Ruth Waldburger, Agat Films & Cie, Martine Marignac, Menahem Golan, Arnon Milchan, Margaret Ménégoz and Nansun Shi.