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Filmex opens with ‘Fires on the Plain’

'Fires on the Plain'
‘Fires on the Plain’
TOKYO (TR) – In announcing the opening of the 15th edition Tokyo Filmex on Saturday, festival director Kanako Hayashi said the event seeks to recognize “the filmmakers’ braveness, determination and affection for the audience.”

With such a mandate, the industry luminaries who filled the Yurakucho Asahi Hall in Chuo Ward couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate start than Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Fires on the Plain,” a battlefield drama set in World War II in which the director also stars as an soldier.

“I normally appear in my films, but in this film I really didn’t want to do that,” said Tsukamoto before the first public screening in Japan of his remake of the Kon Ichikawa classic. “I wanted to cast a famous actor and have more people come see it because of that, but the production was difficult and done with very little money. I was hoping that just having myself and a camera would be enough.”

The nine-day festival will screen nearly 30 current and classic films at three theaters in the Yurakucho area by lesser-known directors primarily from Asia and the Middle East.

For the “Competition” section, nine films will vie for the Grand Prize and 700,000 yen, including “Alive,” Park Jungbum’s story of a South Korean family living in poverty, “Crocodile,” Francis Xavier Pasion’s drama about a woman searching through wetlands for the body of her daughter, and “Next to Her,” Israeli Asaf Korman’s debut that screened in the “Directors’ Fortnight” section of this year’s Cannes International Film Festival.

'Fires on the Plain'
Cast of ‘Fires on the Plain’: Shinya Tsukamoto, Lily Franky, Yu Mori, Chu Ichikawa
Among those in the “Special Screenings” program are Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “The President,” in which a dictator of a fictitious country deals with an overthrow of his government, and “One on One,” Kim Ki-duk’s story of systematic torture and kidnapping.

“1960 — A Time of Destruction and Creation” includes three films from studio Shochiku’s “new wave” era, including Osamu Takahashi’s “Only She Knows,” in which investigators search for a serial killer.

The closing film, slated for November 29, will be “Map to the Stars,” the latest film by David Cronenberg, whose debut and second films will also appear in a special program dedicated to the director.