TIFF opens, Hatoyama attends ceremony

Tokyo International Film Festival (Photo by Adam McCann, October 17, 2009)
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (Photo by Adam McCann, October 17, 2009)
TOKYO (TR) – For the opener of the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival on Saturday night an estimated 7,000 film fans gathered at Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills complex to catch glimpses of such biz luminaries as Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana striding along a ceremonial “green carpet” fabricated from recycled plastic bottles — a symbol of the fest’s ecological theme.

Kicking off the event that evening was the documentary “Oceans” by directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. The film offers a rare and stunning look at life beneath the sea’s surface and the harm being inflicted by mankind. “Our hope is for everyone to know the beauty of the ocean,” said Perrin, “and that it is never too late to make efforts to make up for the damage we have caused.”

TIFF’s week-long run will feature roughly 130 films at theaters in the Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo.

Among them is the documentary “The Cove,” which had been widely reported to have been refused by fest organizers, but it was confirmed just prior to the finalization of the lineup. The film, shot by National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, displays footage of dolphins being corralled and then killed by sharpened poles in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.

The closer will be Pixar’s “Up,” an animated adventure up in the sky directed by Pete Docter.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama appeared with his wife Miyuki and discussed the importance of such events from a worldwide perspective. “When I visited Pittsburgh recently, ‘Departures’ (Okuribito) was much talked about, and ‘Tsumiki no Ie’ (The House of Small Cubes) also received an Oscar recently,” the prime minister said. “Many great films are made in Japan. Movies may be a more influential means than politics in developing relationships based on love and friendship.”

The screening of “Oceans” was followed by 20 minutes of footage from “Avatar,” the James Cameron sci-fi odyssey in 3-D that is set for a December release in Japan and stars Weaver and Saldana. On hand in the audience was Yoshiyuki Tomino, the director of the popular robot anime television series “Mobile Suit Gundam.”

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