The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival has begun at Roppongi Hills and elsewhere, with a grand total of 175 films and related events on its schedule.
This year's festival has twice the budget of last year, thanks to greater subsidies from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Japan Foundation. More capital means more venues, with 14 screens being used this year compared to 11 in 2013.
A special screening of Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" (Machi no Hi in Japanese) will be shown on Monday at the Kabukiza theatre, preceded by a dance performance by kabuki actor Ichikawa Somegoro. Another theatre on the festival's list is Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi in Chuo Ward, Tokyo.
The economy ministry intends to use TIFF as part of its "Cool Japan" campaign and help develop the event as a platform for conveying the appeal of Japanese culture to the world, ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
As a symbol of Japan and of Tokyo, this year's festival has moved animation to the forefront.
TIFF opened Thursday with the world premiere of Disney's "Big Hero 6" (Japan title: Baymax) and there are special screenings of works by popular anime and film director Hideaki Anno from Friday to Oct 30. This is a good opportunity to see a variety of Anno's work for the big and small screens, including the "Shinseiki Evangelion" (Neon Genesis Evangelion) series and the live-action film "Love & Pop."
There is also a free event for lucky lottery winners featuring works in which Anno participated as an animator, such as "Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa" (Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind), for which he drew some of the key animation pictures, and "Cho-Jiku Yosai Macross" (The Super Dimension Fortress Macross), with which he made his full professional debut.
The event also introduces work Anno created during his student days.
The festival's competition section includes 15 films, with Japan represented by "Kami no Tsuki" (Pale Moon) directed by Daihachi Yoshida and starring Rie Miyazawa. The diverse entries from across the world include "The Days Come" (Japan title: Kitaru beki Hibi) from France, which mixes drama and documentary.
Starting this year, the festival has a new section called "Crosscut Asia," which is held in cooperation with the Japan Foundation's Asia Center. This year's featured country is Thailand and films from that nation, many of them new, will be shown in this section this year.
During the festival, various related events for visitors will take place at Roppongi Hills and surrounding areas. Along with red carpet events with popular movie stars at home and abroad, a new attraction involving a food truck will begin Friday. The country's top chefs of Japanese, Western and Chinese cuisines will display their mastery at the event, called Tokyo Eiga Shokudo (Tokyo film restaurant), with menus including special dishes for the festival.
The World Cosplay Summit in TIFF, with cosplayers from home and abroad, is set to take place on Sunday. Other attractions include Cinema Music Jam with film-loving musicians, and an exhibition of the life-size AV-98 Ingram model, the giant robot used in "The Next Generation - Patlabor - ," the live-action film series based on the popular manga and anime series "Mobile Police Patlabor."
"I hope to get people other than film fans involved too, as a cultural festival," said Atsuya Ihara, TIFF's deputy director.
The Tokyo International Film Festival will run until Oct 31 at Roppongi Hills and other venues in Tokyo. For more information, visit www.tiff-jp.net.