(c) 2014 TIFF
Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is back with another packed lineup of the best films from around the globe. Having started back in 1985, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the festival and the huge selection of homegrown movies, world cinema, special events and guest appearances promises to reflect this milestone.
By Christopher O’Keeffe
Some of the biggest names in cinema have graced the TIFF stage over the decades, from Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the early days to Tom Hanks, John Lasseter, and Robert De Niro in recent years. Continuing this trend, Academy Award winning director of the “Usual Suspects” and the “X-Men” series, Bryan Singer will be on hand as the Competition Section’s President of the Jury. Action fans won’t want to miss a special interview event with director John Woo (“Hard Boiled,” “Face/Off,” “Red Cliff”) as he accepts the Samurai Award for achievements in filmmaking. Japan’s own “Beat” Takeshi took the honor last October and used the platform to make some rather controversial statements about the state of the Japanese film industry. It will be interesting to hear what Woo, a man who’s worked extensively in both Hong Kong and Hollywood, has to say. Be sure to attend the red carpet opening event on the evening of October 22 to see the festival’s full of array of stars turn out.
TIFF 2015 boasts an impressive array of Special Programs, including a J-Horror all-nighter, a Gundam themed animation program and tributes to screen legends Ken Takakura, Shuji Terayama and Orson Welles. There’ll even be a screening of the film that closed the first ever TIFF, Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran,” now presented in a glorious 4K digital restoration. With such a massive selection of movies to choose from, here we present a rundown of some of the major sections and our picks from each one.
Opening Film: The Walk
From director Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future” series), “The Walk” tells the true story of Philippe Petit, the man who managed to covertly set-up and traverse a tight rope between New York’s Twin Towers in 1974. Already immortalized in hit 2008 documentary “Man on Wire,” this new feature dramatizes the story in vertigo-inducing 3D with an all-star cast including Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the eccentric Frenchman.
Closing Film: Terminal
The festival traditionally ends with a Japanese film and this year proves no exception with veteran director Tetsuo Shinohara’s latest, “Terminal.” From prize winning novelist Shino Sakuragi comes this moving drama of an older man and young woman who have exiled themselves in Hokkaido, and the relationship that develops between them. Prolific actor Koichi Sato (“Gonin,” “Unforgiven,” “The Kiyosu Conference”) and Tsubasa Honda star.
Chosen from entries from around the world, TIFF’s competition encompasses a range of genres to present a snap shot of the best of world cinema today. This year sees three works from Japan included. ‘Sayonara’, the latest film from Koji Fukada whose last film, “Au revoir l’été” picked up a prize in 2013. “Foujita,” a historical biopic following the life of renowned Paris-based Japanese-artist Tsuguharu Foujita with Jo Odagiri in the lead role. “The Inerasable” is a truly terrifying slice of J-horror from “The Snow White Murder Case” director Yoshihiro Nakamura.
Japanese Cinema Splash
Showcases unique talents from the country’s independent film scene. This section can be hit-and-miss but there’s always a gem or two to be found and the promise of uncovering the next big filmmaker. This year’s pick has to be “Lowlife Love,” the latest from Eiji Uchida who scored breakthrough success with 2014’s excellent black comedy “Greatful Dead.” Uchida’s new film boasts an extraordinary cast of Japan’s finest character actors in a comedy drama that sees a failed director attempt to turn his sleazy life around with the help of a naïve young screenwriter and actress.
A real mixed bag of movies from around the world premiere in this section. See “Casshern” director Kazuaki Kariya make his Hollywood debut with the Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman starring fantasy epic “Last Knights” while documentary “Kampai! For the Love of Sake” explores the mysterious world of Japan’s signature tipple.
Catch some of the best Japanese films you might have missed over the past year, all with English subtitles! Highlights include Mamoru Hosoda’s smash-hit “The Boy and the Beast,” Shinya Tsukamoto’s searing war drama “Fires on the Plain” and cult legend Sono Shion’s “Love and Peace.” Also included is a focus on the films of director Masato Harada, who crowned an already successful career with two major hits “The Emperor in August” and “Kakekomi” earlier this year.
The World of Gundam
Following on from last year’s Special Animation Program that focused on the works of “Evangelion” creator Hideaki Anno, this year explores hugely successful robot animation “Gundam.” Comprised of feature films, TV episodes and rare footage, this selection is a great chance to get acquainted with a true Japanese phenomenon.
With all this and much, much more on offer Tokyo International Film Festival 2015 provides the perfect opportunity to catch up on the latest and greatest cinema from Japan and around the world.
Check the website for the full schedule: http://2015.tiff-jp.net/en/
TIFF takes place October 22–October 31.