Tokyo Festival Opens With Hollywood Spectacle, But Local Films Set to Dominate

 

Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Jack Rapke were on hand Thursday to introduce “The Walk” as the opening film of The Tokyo International Film Festival.

The U.S. pair did the honors at the Toho Cinemas theater in the Roppongi Hills entertainment and shopping complex, launching the 28th edition of an event which runs to Oct. 31.

Though Bryan Singer is chairman of the competition jury, there were fewer that normal Hollywood names on the red carpet. Helen Mirren appeared to represent “Woman In Gold”  together with director Simon Curtis. Hilary Swank was on hand for “You’re Not You.” Both films play in Tokyo’s Special Screenings section for films set to open in Japan in the next months.

The Nippon contingent was especially large, no surprise given the nearly 100 Japanese films scheduled to screen in all festival sections, the largest number ever. Among those drawing the most local media were Koichi Sato and Tsubasa Honda, the stars of the closing film, “The Terminal,” together with director Tetsuo Shinohara.

Representing the Japanese government on stage was Motoo Hayashi, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the Cool Japan initiative for exporting Japanese culture, including films, abroad. “We believe it is important to transmit Japanese films to the world,” Hayashi said.

Singer, who noted that two of his films, “The Usual Suspects” and “Apt Pupil,” screened at previous editions of the festival, lamented an “embarrassing speech” that he made in fractured Japanese on stage for “Pupil.” “It’s a mistake I won’t soon repeat,” he said.

Singer observed that jury decisions would be difficult since “all the sixteen films in the competition are in different genres…it’s going to be a challenge” The jury, which includes director Tran Anh Hung, producer/director Bent Hamer, producer Nansun Shi, director Kazuki Omori and director Susanne Bier, will award six prizes.

Among Asian talent present was Dante Lam, the director of the World Focus section entry “To The Fore,” Hao Jie, director of the competition film “My Original Dream,” and director Brillante Mendoza, whose films will screen in a special section, Crosscut Asia, devoted to Philippine cinema.

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