Tokyo pledges to cut red tape for lensing

Schuwa-chan's 'Sixth Day' premieres at film fest

TOKYO — At the Saturday opening of the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival, Nationalist Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara pledged to create a section in his administration that will help cut red tape for Hollywood productions that want to use the Japanese capital for filming.

Ishihara asked the filmmakers at the fest to consider using Tokyo as a location and said the new section in the Tokyo metropolitan government will make it easy for them to set up shop in Japan.

It’s been over a decade since a major Hollywood picture was shot in Japan. Petty mandarins at minor ministries made the filming of Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain” (1989) — the last Hollywood film shot primarily in Japan — a bureaucratic nightmare.

Local and national officials denied the director permits to shoot numerous scenes and gave Japan a reputation as a hostile locale for filming.

“I promise that you will be able to film spectacular scenes in Ginza in the same way that Fifth Avenue in New York is used as a location for car chases,” Ishihara said.

Earlier this year, Japan’s trade ministry said that it was considering forming a film commission that would help the local and overseas film industries cut through the red tape in shooting movies on location.

Flowers for Arnold

Also generating interest at the fest: Arnold Schwarzenegger was on hand to open the event with the world premiere of “The Sixth Day.” The beefy actor known as Schuwa-chan in Japan received a bouquet of flowers from women’s 48-kg Olympic judo gold medalist Ryoko Tamura of Japan.

The 13th edition of the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival runs through Nov. 5 and features a record number of world premieres. Fest, Asia’s largest, will unspool about 146 films; 16 are in competition for the Grand Prix.

The festival has special sections to showcase new movies in Asia as well special presentations of new Latin American films, Russian animation and British short films.