Kowatanda films was founded by Anshul Chauhan and Mina Moteki in Tokyo in 2016, later joined by writer and editor Rand Colter. The first two projects produced that same year were single location short films, SOAP and What’s Left of Us. The following year, a lengthier short, Kawaguchi 4256 finished production, which served as a prototype of sorts for Kowatanda’s first feature film Bad Poetry Tokyo, also completed in 2017.
Bad Poetry Tokyo told the story of an aging hostess who returns to her rural hometown for Tokyo after being forced to give up on her dreams, but she soon remembers the reasons she had for leaving that place five years previously. The dramatic story as well as the emotional performance from Shuna Iijma resulted in several film festival selections and awards, including Best Actress from both Osaka Asian Film Festival and Slemani International Film festival, Best Film from Venice Film Week, and a Best Director Nomination at the Efebo D’oro awards in Italy, all in 2018. Bad Poetry finally saw theatrical release in Japan on the 18th of January 2020, distributed by Uzumasa, with plans for V.O.D. release by the end of 2020.
2018 also saw the beginning of development of Kowatanda’s second feature film, Kontora. This film, shot in black and white about a mysterious backwards-walking stranger helping a high school girl uncover her grandfather’s past, finished production in April 2019 and had its premiere at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)in November 2019. Here, it won the Grand Prix and Best Music awards in the main competition category, which resulted in invitations to future festivals as well as significant attention from foreign press. This was the first time a film from Japan had won the Grand Prix at the PÖFF.