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Tokyo Film Festival Lineup Favors Non-Asian Films

The Tokyo International Film Festival will this year give over most of its competition section to films from outside East Asia. This contrasts to previous editions with a strong presence from the region.

The festival, which will hold its 32nd edition next month, announced its lineup Thursday. Of the 14 announced films for competition, only two – Wang Rui’s “Chaogtu With Sarula” (China) and Paul Soriano’s ”Mananita” (Philippines) – are from East Asia.

Korean films are noticeably absent this year, a situation that may reflect the acute political tensions between Tokyo and Seoul.

Others in the competition are Valentyn Vasyanovych’s “Atlantis” and Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s “Disco,” which both screened at Toronto. The competition also includes Saeid Rustai’s “Just 6.5,” Jayro Bustamante’s “La Llorona,” Nunzia De Stefano’s “Nevia” and Dominik Moll’s “Only the Animals,” which were all pickups from Venice.

The two Japanese films in the competition (previously announced) are Shin Adachi’s family comedy, “A Beloved Wife,” and Macoto Tezka’s romantic fantasy, “Tezuka’s Barbara,” which is based on a comic by his father, Osamu Tezuka.

The competition jury president is Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, while other jury members are producer Bill Gerber, actor-producer Julie Gayet, director Michael Noer and director Ryuichi Hiroki.

The out-of-competition opening film is “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here,” which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic Tora-san comedy series. There will also be a gala screening of “Talking the Pictures,” Masayuki Suo’s comedy about silent film narrators.

Other sections include Japanese Cinema Splash for new Japanese indie films, Asian Future for new Asian indie films, Japan Now for recently released Japanese films, World Focus for international festival favorites without Japanese distribution yet, and Special Screenings for films set for a fall or winter release in Japan. Among the last are Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” Neil Jordan’s “Greta,” Wash Westmoreland’s “Earthquake Bird,” Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” James Mangold’s “Ford vs. Ferrari” and the first two films in the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise.

This year’s Director in Focus in the Japan Now section is experimental film pioneer Nobuhiko Obayashi, who will present his “Labyrinth of Cinema,” together with four other films from his extensive oeuvre.

Japanese Animation is a new section featuring nine recent and classic titles, themed on the evolution of Japanese animation and VFX.  There will also be screenings of 4K restored versions of four episodes of the iconic Ultra Q tokusatsu (“effects”) TV series and, in the Japanese Classics section, three films starring Machiko Kyo, who died recently.

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