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26th Tokyo film fest to feature 6 world premieres, unveil new theme

The 26th Tokyo International Film Festival
The 26th Tokyo International Film Festival
TOKYO (TR) – The 26th Tokyo International Film Festival will be highlighted by six world premieres in competition as the event shifts the focus of its theme for the first time in five years, organizers announced on Thursday.

Though the festival, which kicks off on October 17, will once again unroll its signature Green Carpet on opening night to promote ecological awareness, as it has done since 2008, this year the films themselves will take center stage.

“The motif is a heart shape as we try to cherish the soul of each film,” said chairman Yasushi Shiina in referring to the festival’s logo at a press conference at the Roppongi Hills complex, the main screening venue for the nine-day event.

Among the 15 entries competing for the “Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix” prize and $50,000 are six world premieres, including Japanese helmer Koji Fukada’s coming-of-age drama “Au revoir l’ été,” Behnam Behzadi’s story of generational struggles in Iran “Bending the Rules,” and Ning Ying’s “To Live and Die in Ordos,” a Chinese drama in which a writer seeks information on a policeman who died in Inner Mongolia.

Heading the jury will be Chinese director Chen Kaige. He said that he will be looking for something more than simply good films in assessing the field. “We all understand that good films require talent,” said Kaige in a video message. “But sometimes I feel like there’s something even more important than talent, which is unique personal understanding of the world.”

Kicking off TIFF in the “Special Screenings” section will be “Captain Phillips,” the action-thriller by Paul Greengrass that stars Tom Hanks. The section is also highlighted by “The Bling Ring,” the latest film by Sofia Coppola, and “Beyond the Candelabra,” Steven Soderbergh’s biography of Liberace. Closing the fest will be Koki Mitani’s historical comedy “The Kiyosu Conference.”

In addition to a change in theme, this year’s TIFF has reworked some of its film lineups.

The “Japanese Cinema Splash” section (formerly “Japanese Eyes”) will feature eight independent films, including “There’s Nothing to Be Afraid of,” helmer Hisashi Saito’s story of love and loneliness, and “Walking with a Friend,” a look at the friendship in the lives of four men.

The “Asian Future” section, known as the “Winds of Asia-Middle East” at previous festivals, will screen productions by directors with two or fewer films to their credit. Internationally acclaimed films seeking Japanese distribution will be showcased in the “World Focus” section.