You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tokyo Festival Opens With Heightened Sense of Japanese Tradition, Purpose

Unfolding while Japan simultaneously hosts the Rugby World Cup, recovers from the recent Typhoon Hagibis, and prepares for the upcoming Olympic Games, the 32nd edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival got under way Monday, with a strong sense of Japanese tradition and heightened conservatism compared with previous years.

That feeling was reinforced by last week’s enthronement of a new Emperor, which launched the beginning of the new Reiwa Era, and by the five-woman, kimono-clad ensemble that welcomed guests at Roppongi’s Grand Hyatt Hotel with traditional shamisen, flutes and drums. (International guests included Alicia Vikander, Aaron Kwok and Miriam Yeung.)

The Reiwa Era means: “A new era for Japan and Japanese films,” said festival director Takeo Hisamatsu from the stage. “We have built the program to present the best of Japanese films to the world.”

This year the festival debuts a new section on Japanese animation, as well as a focus on Nobuhiko Obayashi, a pioneering experimental filmmaker in the 1960s whose debut fantasy/horror feature “House” became a global cult sensation decades after its release.

The opening film was “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here,” the 50th installment in the Tora-san comedy series by Yoji Yamada. Now age 88, Yamada made the first episode with late star Kiyoshi Atsumi in 1969.

Popular on Variety

“Tora-san, Wish You Were Here” played mid-afternoon at the nearby Toho Cinema in Roppongi Hills. And Yamada was on hand to usher on stage six actors who appeared in the original series. The most recent “Tora-san” film was way back in the 20th century, some 22 years ago.

Actress, Alice Hirose, designated officially as the “festival muse,” was on hand to guide guests through the different festival sections. She revealed the new TIFF Plus Tech section, being presented with Japanese telecoms giant NTT Docomo. The program is set to give more audiences a chance to experience virtual reality.

Kocihi Hagiuda Japan’s Culture Minister, said that the festival’s three key mantra were: “expanding, empowering and enlightening.” That is a mission statement announced last year, and it suggests that the 32nd edition of the festival also cherishes a degree of continuity, too.

The competition line-up will feature a combination of festival favorites from Venice and Toronto, and world premieres that hail from Asia and Japan.

The competition films will be judged by a jury, headed by China’s Zhang Ziyi, which was led out towards the end of the short and sweet ceremony. Most hewed to the conservative theme and wore black, though Zhang accessorized with a collar of dazzling sparklers.

Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi poses for photographers during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival in TokyoInternational Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan - 28 Oct 2019
CREDIT: Koji Sasahara/AP/Shutterstock

More Film

  • 'Chez Jolie Coiffure' Review: Hair Salon

    Film Review: 'Chez Jolie Coiffure'

    Shortly before the credits roll on “Chez Jolie Coiffure,” a customer in the eponymous hair salon asks her stylist, Sabine, if she has any plans to go home this year. Out of context, this sounds like the kind of standard, empty small talk one often makes while having one’s hair cut: what good movies you’ve [...]

  • Best Netflix original movies

    The 10 Best Netflix Movies of 2019

    This time last year, Netflix estimated that it would release 90 original movies in 2019. At the time, the number seemed outrageous: That’s more than four times the number Warner Bros. made in the same 12-month period — and more than any human would ever care to watch. Guess what: Turns out that 90 was a [...]

  • Luc Besson EuropaCorp Searching for Hit

    EuropaCorp Posts 50% Drop in Revenues in Half-Year Results

    Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has posted a 50% drop in revenues during the first half of the 2019-20 financial year even as the financially ailing company tries to finalize a rescue deal with its junior lender, Vine Alternative Investments. EuropaCorp’s revenues fell to €40.7 million ($45 million) during the six months ending Sept. 30. The company [...]

  • Richard Jewell Olivia Wilde

    'Richard Jewell': Kathy Scruggs' Roommate, Family Angered by Journalist's Portrayal

    Penny Furr was Kathy Scruggs’ roommate when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter got a major scoop involving the investigation into the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Scruggs had discovered that Richard Jewell, the security guard who had evacuated the area before the bomb exploded, saving dozens of lives in the process, was a suspect in the attack. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content