Tokyo film fest celebrates 30th edition with Japanese opener
The Tokyo International Film Festival opens on Wednesday with a Japanese work called Fullmetal Alchemist by Fumihiko Sori. Nothing could have been a greater tribute to the festival’s 30th anniversary than kickstarting with a homegrown work.
“I thought it is appropriate to present to the world a comic book and VFX-based work that represents the current trend in Japanese cinema,” festival director Takeo Hisamatsu said. “Even if the budget is not comparable to a Hollywood production, you will be surprised at its quality.”
The last time Tokyo opened with a Japanese movie was 10 years ago, during its 20th edition. The film was Midnight Eagle, and the year was 2007.
While Fullmetal Alchemist transforms a highly popular comic series (and Japan is very well known for its Manga comics) into live action, tracing the journey of two brothers as they decide to regain all that they have lost, the festival’s closing work, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power will document how close we are to a real energy revolution. It has on its cast Al Gore, the American politician and environmentalist who served as the US Vice-President from 1993 to 2001. Al Gore will attend the screening.
Between the opening and closing nights, Tokyo will showcase movies, which will be -- in the words of Hisamatsu - “expansive, empowering and enlightening”. The programme will offer a wide mix of genres, which will include dramas, thrillers and romantic comedies with a riveting international competition that will be judged by a panel, headed by the popular American actor-director Tommy Lee Jones.
The competition will have eight world premieres. Here are some: Zhanna Issabayeva’s Sveta, about a woman with a hearing disability fighting to survive; Takahisa Zeze’s The Lowlife, focusing on the personal struggles of female adult-video performers; Margarethe von Trotta’s Forget About Nick, which talks about a model turning into a designer and being forced to live with her husband’s ex-wife when he disappears; Asghar Yousefinejad’s The Home, tracing the travails of a woman who returns to her family home after a long absence when her father dies; Govinda Van Maele’s Gutland, an erotic thriller about a village drifter and; Dong Yue’s The Looming Storm, which follows a factory guard as he begins to fancy himself as a detective trying to probe a murder.
Apart from competition, the festival will have several sections like Crosscut Asia, Japanese Cinema Splash, World Focus and Japan Now. And then there will be The World of Steven Soderbergh - who will be in attendance with three of his own titles: Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and Haywire (2011).
Some delightful masterclasses have been planned and will include top arthouse names from the region like the 2017 Samurai Award winner, Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Philippines’ Brillante Mendoza, Japan’s Fumihiko Sori and Cannes favourite Naomi Kawase.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has been covering the Tokyo International Film Festival for some years now.)
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