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“Opal” by Martinican Director Alain Bidard


The results were announced on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Although Alain Bidard’s film did not secure any awards, it garnered significant praise from the audience and the Japanese press. The animated feature film Opal was hailed as innovative, unique, and inspiring within the animation film industry. The theme of addressing “incest” remains an exceedingly sensitive and controversial subject in Japanese society, as well as in many other countries. For Martinican director Alain Bidard, embarking on this daring and risky venture was far from a guaranteed bet.

It is noteworthy that Japan stands as the third wealthiest country globally. However, in terms of gender equality, it ranks a surprising 121st out of 153, according to the World Economic Forum, trailing behind countries such as Bangladesh, Senegal, and the United Arab Emirates. Within Japan, instances of professional discrimination, sexual harassment, rigid dress codes, and perpetuated stereotypical roles persist, contributing to a deeply ingrained sexist culture. The role of women in Japanese society remains a delicate issue, underscoring the challenging backdrop against which the director’s film was presented.

Hence, given this contextual backdrop, it becomes more understandable why the director’s film faced formidable odds of winning the top prize. The film fearlessly addresses a profoundly serious social issue with the intent to raise awareness, a purpose that challenges the established socio-political norms. The current landscape of Japanese cinema and society is not yet prepared to actively champion such an unconventional film. Ironically, Opal has managed to create an opening, symbolizing representing the evolving attitudes. This contribution from Martinican director Alain Bidard carries a message of hope and progress.

Evidence of this transformation lies in the actions of the festival’s Secretary-General, Taro Maki, a prominent figure in Japanese animation production, and the festival’s Artistic Director, Tadashi Sudo, who also plays a journalistic role. They have expressed an interest in facilitating the distribution of “Opal” in the Japanese television market. Furthering this commitment to accessibility, a proposal has been initiated through French Guianase Alizé Utteryn, based in New York, to establish a partnership aimed at promoting black directors from the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and the United States.

Thanks to the participation of Alain Bidard, the sole black animation filmmaker championing diversity and an industry pioneer, today’s recognition signifies not only a personal victory but also a stepping stone for other black directors in the Japanese market. Despite not winning the top accolades this outcome stands as a triumph that surpasses his initial expectations. We extend our congratulations to Alain Bidard for his journey of excellence, as well as for his audacity, and tenacity. While there is still a long way to go, he must continue to raise awareness around the world through his imaginative “Made in Martinique” storytelling. The evidence is that Opal resonates and appeals to a global audience that has won more than 133 awards and 180 nominations so far. The undeniable talent of Caribbean filmmakers propels us forward and through our collective efforts, we will forge ahead!

More information about Alain Bidard

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