Image credits for Main Image collage: Rows 1 & 3 (from left to right): The 50 Year Argument ©BBC ARENA, SIKELIA PRODUCTIONS, WOWOW, Photo: Brigitte Lacombe; Dhoom ©Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved; Devil’s Knot ©2013 DEVILS KNOT LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Row 2: A Courtesan with Flowered Skin ©2014 TOEI VIDEO; The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet © EPITHETE FILMS – TAPIOCA FILMS – FILMARTO – GAUMONT – FRANCE 2 CINEMA
It’s that time of year again when the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) takes over local cinema screens to bring a huge selection of films to movie-loving audiences.

By Christopher O’Keeffe

From homegrown fare to foreign hits, independent works to blockbusters of the future, everything is covered and with this year’s special focus on animation there’s no better way to catch up with what’s going on in the Japanese film scene. The event kicks off October 23 with its annual Opening Carpet ceremony where a parade of Japan’s biggest stars, and some major Hollywood special guests, head down to Roppongi Hills for the opening screening. Last year’s glitzy event included appearances from Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass, Sofia Coppola and Kill Bill star Chiaki Kuriyama, and an equally impressive lineup is expected this year. Here’s a look at some of the highlights that have been announced so far.


Robert De Niro was one of the A-listers to grace TIFF’s Green Carpet last year. ©TIFF2014

The World of Hideaki Anno

The celebrated animator (stay tuned to Tokyo Weekender for our interview with Anno) may be most famous for his hugely successful television anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion and its subsequent big-screen reimaginings, but the talented director is no one-trick pony, as this retrospective of more than 40 of his works can attest.

The surprisingly dark and complex tale of Evangelion is one of the most celebrated works in anime history; check it out before the fourth and final entry in the series drops next year. For something a little lighter than the apocalyptic Evangelion, Gunbuster is a hugely enjoyable anime series, and the first that saw Anno take over as director. With its beach training montages and sunglassed military men, it’s a fist-pumping 80s delight, telling the story of a young girl chosen to pilot a robot and blast into space to defeat the Earth’s enemies.

While most famous for his anime work, Anno has also been at the helm of several live-action features, including LOVE & POP, an adaptation of a Ryu Murakami novel and Cutie Honey, based on the classic manga and anime character. The most accomplished
of these features has to be the dream-like ritual, which charts the relationship between a disillusioned director and a strange young woman he finds lying on railroad tracks who claims everyday that “tomorrow is my birthday.” Tickets for “The World of Hideaki Anno” go on sale 12:00 on October 11 at

Opening Film

TIFF kicks off this year with the world premiere of Disney’s latest, the Japanese anime–influenced Big Hero 6. Taking place in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo, young robotics whiz kid Takashi fights crime with the help of big, cuddly robot Baymax.

You can catch the latest “sizzle trailer” of Big Hero 6 below:

Closing Film

Based on Hitoshi Iwaaki’s popular 90s manga, Parasyte tells the story of invading aliens, known as Parasites, which take over the brains of their human hosts. When high-school student Shinichi, played by Himizu’s Shota Sometani, is attacked, the parasite fails to reach his brain, instead burrowing into his arm. Shinichi and the bizarre creature form a special bond and work together to fight off the alien invaders.

Special Screenings

The Special Screenings section of the festival is host to major films, both from Japan and abroad. This year will include a special screening of footage from Tim Burton’s latest, Big Eyes, the Japan premiere of Jon Favreau comedy-drama Chef, and The Raid 2: Berandal, sequel to the incredible, hard-hitting original. Also on offer are a couple of world premieres from fan-favorite Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii.

Special Screening at Kabukiza Theatre—Chaplin’s City Lights

The legendary Charlie Chaplin visited Japan in the 30s, and the star of stage and silent screen was greatly enamored by the theatricality of kabuki. The Kabukiza theatre in Ginza, which opened to the public for the first time in 1889—the year of Chaplin’s birth—will be holding a kabuki performance, which will be followed by a special screening of the Little Tramp’s classic comedy City Lights.

For more of the latest information from TIFF, visit their site at