Thomas, Umehara set to improve programming, competition

The Tokyo Film Festival is addressing criticisms of its program and competition selections by adding film execs to its roster for its 23rd edition, skedded to unspool Oct. 23-31.

Among the new additions are producer Jeremy Thomas as executive advisor and veteran Avex Entertainment acquisitions exec Ken Umehara, who will serve as programming advisor.

Thomas has had a long association with Japan, starting with his production of Nagisa Oshima’s WW2 drama “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (1982) and continuing with Takeshi Kitano’s gang pic “Brother” (2000) and Takashi Miike’s new samurai swashbuckler “Thirteen Assassins,” which is skedded to bow in the fall.

Returning to the fest are Yoshi Yatabe, programming director for the competition section, and Kenji Ishizaka, programming director for the Winds of Asia and the Middle East section.

Tom Yoda is gearing up for his third round as fest chairman, with plans to continue the eco theme he initiated two editions ago, including the section for nature docus and the Toyota Earth Grand Prix for best pic with an eco-related theme.

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