Tokyo will experience once again the glamour of the film world as the prestigious Tokyo International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday. Hollywood bigwigs like Tom Hanks, Robert de Niro, Francis Ford Coppola and his daughter filmmaker Sofia Coppola are gracing the festival, together with other aspiring filmmakers from the Asian and Middle East regions.
In last year’s edition of the TIFF, there were 1,332 movies from 91 countries in competition for the international competition. The highest award to be given out will be the “Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix,” which will go to the best film in the international film section, along with receiving a $50,000 cash prize. Past winners in the Grand Prix are films by Alejandro Amenabar, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Michel Hazanavicius who all went on to direct Academy Award nominated and winning films. Meanwhile, the winner of the brand new “Best Asian Future Film Award” section will receive $10,000 and the prestige of being the first winner in that category. Opening the festival on Thursday will be Hong Kong horror flick Rigor Mortis, directed by Juno Mak, which is also in the running for the Asian Future award.
The chief juror for the competition, Chinese director Chen Kaige, said that while talent is certainly important in making great, award-winning films, the director’s “unique personal understanding of the world” also plays a large part when they choose the winners of the festival. He also said that most of the time, this unique understanding is found in the early age of the filmmaker’s career and that is why they want to pay attention to young filmmakers.
There was a bit of controversy over the choice of a Chinese director to head the judging panel, given that diplomatic relations between Japan and China are not at its best. But in terms of cultural aspects, the two countries still try to make a go of it, despite the political drawbacks. The TIFF also aims to introduce the Japanese audience to a wider range of films and also promote Japanese independent movies to the industry.
[ via Channel News Asia ]
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