TOKYO — “The Cove,” Louie Psihoyos’ controversial documentary about the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, is among pics playing at the 22nd Tokyo Film Festival, which announced its lineup on Wednesday.
Fest chairman Tom Yoda said “The Cove” was a last-minute addition because programmers had been concerned that its subject “might cause disputes.” It had been widely reported Stateside that the fest had rejected the doc.
James DeMonaco’s “Staten Island,” starring Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and Seymour Cassel, is the only U.S. pic playing in competition at the fest.
Selection kicks off with Jinsei Tsuji’s “Acacia,” starring wrestling legend Antonio Inoki as an ex-grappler who bonds with a young boy.
Among world preems are Li Fangfang’s “Heaven Eternal, Earth Everlasting,” Raymond Red’s “Manila Skies,” Huo Jianji’s “Snowfall in Taipei” and Juan Carlos Valdivia’s “Southern District.”
As previously announced, the competition jury president is Mexican helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, assisted by actress Mieko Harada, director-actor Jerzy Skolimowski, cinematographer Caroline Champetier, actor Yoo Ji Tae and cinematheque director Masamichi Matsumoto.
The fest will open Oct. 17 with the Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud docu “Oceans,” together with a special presentation of footage from the James Cameron sci-fi epic “Avatar.” The fest will close Oct. 25 with the Pete Docter toon “Up.”
Among pics in the Special Screening section are Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York”; Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell”; and “Sideways,” Cellin Gluck’s remake of the 2004 Alexander Payne hit, featuring an all-Japanese cast.
The fest’s other main sections include Winds of Asia, which is devoted to new and classic pics from East and Southeast Asia; Japanese Eyes, which preems new local films; and World Cinema, which screens the pick of other fests, including Sundance, Rotterdam, Cannes and Locarno.
One addition to the program from last year is Natural Tiff, a section of eco-themed pics. Another is Director’s Angle/Actor’s Angle, whose focuses this year are helmer Hirokazu Kore-eda and thesps Hiroyuki Sanada (“The Last Samurai”) and Yusaku Matsuda (“Black Rain”). The fest is commemorating the 20th anniversary of Matsuda’s death at age 40; Kore-eda and Sanada will be on hand to discuss their work.
The festival will also continue its green theme started last year by Yoda, including a Green Carpet made of recycled materials for the opening ceremony, and the Green Carpet Club to support and promote green activities at the fest and elsewhere.