A press conference was held at Roppongi Hills yesterday to announce the arrival of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF). Now in its 27th year, TIFF is Japan’s largest and most prestigious film event, and offers a platform for established stars to show off their latest works and new talents the chance to present their films on an international stage.

Last year major international stars including Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro and Sofia Coppola attended the festival alongside a host of homegrown talent. The festival will take place October 21–31 at sites around Tokyo, including the main site in Roppongi and, new to this year, Nihonbashi. Also taking place is a special showing of Charlie Chaplin’s comedy classic City Lights at the Kabukiza Kabuki Theatre that the legendary “Little Tramp” actually visited on a trip to Japan.

While we’re still waiting on the full list of films to be shown this year, which will offer some ideas as to who’s going to be in attendance, it has been revealed that Disney’s latest animated feature will be opening the festival. The film, Big Hero 6, couldn’t be more fitting to kick-start a festival that aims to put a greater focus on the world of Japanese animation than ever before. Produced by John Lasseter, the man behind most of Pixar’s biggest hits, the film is set in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo and focuses on a boy called Tadashi and his relationship with his big, cuddly robot Baymax. The closing film will be Parasyte, an adaptation of the popular Hitoshi Iwaaki manga first published in the early 90s and directed by Takashi Yamazaki who was at the helm for 2010 hit Space Battleship Yamato.

The most exciting news so far is the addition of a special presentation of the works of Hideaki Anno, creator of the extraordinarily popular anime film and TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Early in his career Anno was in the animation department of Studio Ghibli, working on the film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind under mentor Hayao Miyazaki before moving on to phenomenal success with his Evangelion franchise. The talented director does not work exclusively in animation:he has been at the helm of several live-action features, including CUTIE HONEY, as well as voicing the lead character in Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises. Around 50 of Anno’s works will be shown, covering the entirety of his career to date. His films have had a huge impact on the Japanese animation industry and so this is a great opportunity to catch up with the work of one of the most important filmmakers in Japan today.

—Christopher O’Keeffe

Main Image: ©Khara

Tokyo International Film Festival, TIFF, Hideaki Anno, Evangelion