2020 Tokyo 12 Actors

Due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, director Yurugu Matsumoto and twelve collaborating actors were forced to suddenly suspend film production. In place of the canceled film, Matsumoto and his team shifted their energies to an alternate mode of filmmaking, focusing instead on how the actors would survive this chaotic situation. In this new film, the twelve actors play themselves day-after-day, confessing to the audience their untold thoughts and emotions through monologues they capture on their phones. Traipsing back and forth between the real world and fiction, they grasp documentary reality, sublimate that into fiction, and bring the resulting truth to light. That is what this docufiction is all about.
Receiving the actors' raw footage as they create it each day, Matsumoto experiences a powerful urge to see his actors perform again in theatrical roles. So, the director hammers out his own film production guidelines designed to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission on the set. As soon as the Japanese government lifts its state of emergency, the twelve actors and crew make a short film all the while observing the appropriate prevention measures. The resulting short, Palette, is shown as a part of the docufiction.

This movie was shot during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo. Each having recorded their own footage, the twelve actors appear in the film as themselves. The film now becomes a memory of their two months, living between reality and fiction. This is the docufiction they made.

  • Yurugu Matsumoto
  • Yurugu Matsumoto
  • Yurugu Matsumoto
  • Yoko Akita
    Key Cast
  • Daichi Akiyama
    Key Cast
  • Ryosuke Inoura
    Key Cast
  • Yuya Konishi
    Key Cast
  • Reina Sugitani
    Key Cast
  • Aki Shimizu
    Key Cast
  • Eigo Tanaka
    Key Cast
  • Riku Tamura
    Key Cast
    Key Cast
  • Yuka Mukae
    Key Cast
  • Takeyasu Motoyama
    Key Cast
  • Yusuke Wada
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    2020年 東京。12人の役者たち
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 58 minutes 51 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    1,000,000 JPY
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Yurugu Matsumoto

Born 1969, Tachikawa City, Tokyo, Japan. In the 1990s, Matsumoto started making his own 8mm films while a student at the Image Forum Institute of the Moving Image. He later began working as a freelance assistant director in commercial, studio filmmaking and served under such directors as Takashi Ishii, Takashi Yamazaki, Yoshihiro Nakamura, Hitoshi Yazaki, Banmei Takahashi, and Shinsuke Sato. His last film as assistant director was Nobuhiko Obayashi's HANAGATAMI. Now, Matsumoto focuses on directing his own work, mainly documentary TV dramas, as well as his passion for independent shorts. Many of Matsumoto's shorts have been nominated and won awards at numerous film festivals. PAY PHONE won the Japan Competition Best Actor Award at Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2018, which is an Academy Awards accredited festival and one of the biggest short film festivals in Asia. The film also won Best Narrative Short at Kansas City FilmFest International 2020, a festival with a quarter-century of history. It has been screened at over sixty national and international film festivals, winning 20 awards. including five Grands Prix. Cassette Tape, the sequel to PAY PHONE, premiered at the 6th Hachioji Short Film Festival where it won both the Grand Prix and Audience Award. After that, it won Grand Prix and Best Actress at the 23rd Yokohama Visual Entertainment Festival, making Matsumoto the very first director to win Grands Prix there four years in a row.

From pop idol vehicles to socially aware melodramas, Matsumoto has directed a wide range of film productions. His VIRGIN BREEZE, a short he wrote and directed for the Japanese pop idol girl band Nogizaka 46, won significant critical acclaim. Meanwhile, Matsumoto's feature-length TALKING TO THE STARRY SKY is based on the true stories of people with disabilities and their supporters and sheds light on their forgotten experiences following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. The movie won an encouragement award from the highly authoritative 37th Japan Film Revitalization Committee.

Matsumoto's screenplay for TSUREZURE was nominated in the synopsis competition at the 3rd MPA/DHU Film Workshop. Carlos Saldanha (known for his Ice Age: The Meltdown, Rio, etc.) highly commended it. The same project also advanced to the final stage at the Sundance Institute/NHK Award 2017, where it was selected as one of the top nine screenplays.

In his hometown of Tachikawa City, Matsumoto actively contributes to film culture as a teacher in his local "Moviemaking Workshop" and as a judge for the Tachikawa Meigazadori Cinema Festival.

AZUSA (1992), CRIMSON TEARS (1993), OPEN TO VISITORS (1993), MIX (2015), GACHA GACHA (2016), VIRGIN BREEZE (2017), PAY PHONE (2019), CASSETTE TAPE (2019), Talking to the Starry Sky (2019), PALETTE (2020), 2020 Tokyo 12 Actors (2021),First Love(2022)

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Director Statement

Are the episodes you see in this movie the reality of the actors or just a fiction? Only the actors who played themselves in this film know the answer. Each actor performs their own person in the film's "real" section while they pursue a theatricalized version of themselves in the fiction section. Be it reality or fiction, each of the film's episodes leaves something in the audience's heart, something that becomes truth.