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Tokyo fest lineup will play it safe

Event balances mainstream, eclectic product; 'Gotoku' to open

TOKYO — Industryites hoping the new topper of the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival, Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, would reform the fest and halt its slide into irrelevance must have been disappointed after the slate was unveiled Wednesday.

The basic structure and sections for the Nov. 1-9 event are unchanged and, judging by the special screenings announced so far, it will continue trying to balance mainstream and more eclectic product.

“Ashura No Gotoku” (no English name), helmed by Yoshimitsu Morita, will open the fest as a special screening. To be released by Toho after the event, the adaptation of a bestselling novel by Kuniko Mukoda has seen life on the small screen as a drama series depicting the travails of four sisters.

The closing film will be “Finding Nemo” — Japan is one of the last major territories where the Pixar production will see a general release.

Vet Chinese superstar Gong Li will head the competition jury, complementing her numerous jury outings for festivals in Berlin, Venice and Cannes and giving TIFF a chance to show off good relations with China.

Other special screenings include the Columbia Pictures Asia-produced China epic “Warriors of Heaven and Earth” by He Ping, the German smash hit “Good Bye, Lenin!,” Jim Sheridan’s “In America,” Jane Campion’s “In the Cut,” the animated “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas,” enfant terrible Takashi Miike’s “You’ve Got a Call” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Full Frontal.”

The main sections of the festival have not changed. Apart from the competition, whose entries will be announced later in the year, and the special screenings, Winds of Asia will present new fare from neighboring countries, while Nippon Cinema Classic will dwell on Japan’s more glorious cinematic past.

The Nippon Cinema Forum, a Visual Image Symposium, the usual parallel Tokyo Intl. Women’s Film Festival and a Federico Fellini retrospective complement the program.

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