‘Flags’ stars drape Tokyo’s red carpet

Japanese fest kicks off with 'Father'

TOKYO — The Tokyo Film Festival opened Saturday with what’s become an annual tradition: the procession of film folk down the red carpet on Keyakizaka Street behind the Roppongi Hills complex.

About 7,200 fans lined the street to greet the stars, including Adam Beach and Jesse Bradford of “Flags of Our Fathers,” who later appeared onstage for the pic’s opening-night screening at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills, the main fest venue.

Conspicuous by his absence was helmer Clint Eastwood, who explained in a taped message played for the crowd that he’s still busy with post for “Letters From Iwo Jima,” the companion piece to “Flags” that examines the battle from the Japanese side. Stars from that pic, including Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase and Kazunari Ninomiya, turned out for the carpet walk and an event at the Roppongi Hills Arena. Star Ken Watanabe, however, sent his taped regrets.

After the opening screening, the guests, led by tuxedoed toppers from every major studio and distrib, adjourned to the nearby Grand Hyatt for the opening party. Addressing the assembled was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called himself a “big movie fan” and noted he used film references in his new book “Towards a Beautiful Country.” “Movies give us memories,” he said. “You remember the movie you saw on your first date, whether it’s good or bad.”

Few of the partygoers returned for the opening-night screening of the Korean smash “King and the Clown.” But hundreds of young female fans turned out to scream and wave at the pic’s star, Lee Joon-ki, who reciprocated with a stage session, including a lengthy Q&A session with the emcee. The fan love-in pushed the finish of the pic perilously close to the last trains out of Roppongi, precipitating a stampede out of the theater.

Fest runs through Sunday.

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