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‘1001 Grams’ and ‘Heaven Knows What’ Head Tokyo Festival Competition

TOKYO — The Tokyo International Film Festival unveiled a 15-film competition section with five world premieres and a strong contingent of films from other autumn festivals.

Pick-ups from Toronto include Bent Hamer’s Norwegian Oscar contender, drama “1001 Grams,” Cedric Jimenez’s crime thriller “The Connection,” Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s school drama “The Lesson,” and Joshua and Benny Safdie’s New York drug scene drama “Heaven Knows What.”

Also competing for the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix, the festival’s highest award, are Claudio Noce’s suspense picture “Ice Forest,” which premieres at Rome, as well as Nima Javidi’s directorial debut “Melbourne” and Elchin Musaoglu’s “Nabat,” both of which screened at Venice . The only Japanese title in the section is Daihachi Yoshida’s previously announced “Pale Moon,” which stars Rie Miyazawa as a housewife who turns embezzler.

The competition jury will be headed by “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, with other jury members directors John H. Lee, Eric Khoo, Robert Luketic and Hiroshi Shinagawa and casting director Debbie McWilliams, the lone woman.

The festival announced the inauguration of the Samurai Award, to be presented to veteran filmmakers who “continue to create ground-breaking films that carve out a path to a new era.” The first recipients are directors Takeshi Kitano and Tim Burton, whose “Big Eyes” will screen at the fest. 

Other sections announced include World Focus (films screened at major fests, but with no Japanese distribution), Asian Future (films by new Asian directors, including Japan and the Middle East), Japanese Cinema Splash (Japanese indie films) and Special Screenings (commercial films to be released in Japan over the fall and winter months).

There will also be a section devoted to the work of animator Hideaki Anno, a section of films from the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art and a special program of new Thai films presented by the Japan Foundation Asian Center. 

The opening film will be the previously announced Disney animation “Big Hero 6” while the fest will close with the Takashi Yamazaki SF/thriller “Parasyte.” 

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