Tokyo fest’s special screenings

High-profile preems mix with emotional showings


John Woo’s period epic opens TIFF, screening Oct. 18, then bows in Japan on Nov. 1, with Toho-Towa and Avex Entertainment distribbing.


This comedy by Spanish helmer Jose Antonio Quirdis about an antipollution campaign will get its international preem in the new Natural TIFF section of pics with eco themes.


Fernando Meirelles’ pic about a plague of blindness that strikes humanity features Japanese stars Yusuke Iseya and Yoshino Kimura with Julianne Moore, which means it is sure to play to a packed house at its bow in the Special Screenings section. Also, Kimura is serving as “Film Ambassador” for the fest, adding to the prescreening hype.


The last pic by helmer Jun Ichikawa, who died Sept. 19 a few days shy of his 60th birthday just as he was adding his final touches in post, will get its world preem in the Japanese Eyes section. Ichikawa is best known abroad for “Tony Takitani,” a 2004 drama (based on a short story by Haruki Murakami) that won armloads of honors, including a Special Jury Prize at Locarno.


Though screened at the Venice and Rotterdam fests, this 2003 period drama by Kon Ichikawa was only shown on Japanese satellite TV and never distributed theatrically. Regarded as a lost film by this Golden Age master, “Fusa” is finally being shown on the bigscreen at TIFF and getting its theatrical release soon after.


The animecs section, devoted to new and experimental Japanese toons, will host the world preem of Yoshinobu Yamakawa’s film. It adapts a cult-fave comic by Shinichi Hiromoto about a girl who journeys to hell and back. Characters designs by Yasushi Nirasawa (“Samurai Champloo”) and monster designs by Kazuto Nakazawa (“Vampire Hunter D”) have foreign anime fans drooling.


Anime auteur Mamoru Oshii (“Ghost in the Shell,” “The Sky Crawlers”) has assembled three helmers for a four-part, live-action anthology pic on the theme of “blade action.” Oshii helmed one segment himself.


TIFF will screen a new, digitally restored print of Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 classic about the unknowability of truth. The print was made with the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.


This much-lauded 1962 experimental toon by Osamu Tezuka — the “father of Japanese anime” — will screen in a new print as part of a special program commemorating the 80th year since Tezuka’s birth in 1928. Tezuka died at age 60 in 1989.


Disney-Pixar toon closes the fest, screening Oct. 26. Disney Japan plans to release it in December.

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