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Tokyo International Film Festival: A venue for creativity

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Directors, producers and actresses who served as jury for TIFF 2018. Say Tola

Aiming to deepen the friendship between Japan and other Asian nations, Tokyo International Film Festival continues to offer a venue for filmmakers and film enthusiasts across the region to gather and connect. Say Tola joined this year’s TIFF and saw how the film festival helped boost not just the film industry in Asia, but as well as peace and unity among people.

Films have special powers. They connect people of different races and religion; they transmit ideas and viewpoints in ways other medium can’t; they unite people. Films, no matter what language they use, tug at people’s heartstrings. This is the reason why international film festivals held all over the world continue to succeed in their endeavours to bring together creative storytellers and people who are willing to listen and see varying stories. This is also the reason why the Tokyo International Film Festival is still very much relevant in Asia 31 years after it was first established.

Under the clear autumn sky on October 25, hundreds of filmmakers, actors and fans gathered at Roppongi Hills Tokyo Film Arena for an annual film fest that has long proven the power of storytelling in bridging distance between nations and people.

The 31st Tokyo International Film Festival, which ran for ten days from the red carpet event on October 25 to November 3, featured nearly 200 films in the line-up.

Festival Ambassador Mayu Matsuoka. Photo: Say Tola

As film directors, writers, producers and actors graced the red carpet, Drum Tao, Japan’s drum and dance ensemble, performed at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills, giving visitors a closer look at the Japanese performance art. The ceremony was also attended by Minister of State for Cool Japan Strategy and Intellectual Property Strategy Takuya Hirai, Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Ryohei Miyata and TIFF Festival Director Takeo Hisamatsu.

In his opening speech, Hisamatsu – an experienced filmmaker himself – said that the 1,809 entries in this year’s film festival came from 109 countries across continents, the largest number of entries the festival ever had.

He, however, clarified that although other nations in Asia hold their own film festivals – Shanghai International Film Festival and Beijing International Film Festival in China and Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, among others – TIFF is in no way competing with them.

“We are not competing with each other. In fact, we are collaborating towards the goal of having large presence in the global film industry since these three countries are huge market of Asia.”

Hisamatsu, who has been holding the directorship of TIFF since last year, also noted that he wants to focus on expanding and empowering filmmakers in Asia to produce quality flicks that will stir not just emotions but positive social changes.

Roppongi Hills Tokyo Film Arena. Photo: Say Tola

“And this year, rather than introducing new concepts to strengthen the festival, I wanted to enhance more on the communication strategy with the press, filmmakers and directors and engage more with the audiences as well as trying to have younger people be more involved in this film industry.”

For its 31st run, TIFF highlighted comic and family-centered films that were enjoyed by both parents and children.

“We show very artful and entertaining films that the audience can really enjoy together. We hope that we’ll have film fans in children. Aside from bringing joy to all ages, we also created a platform where audiences, fans, young filmmakers and directors can be in the same venue and talk about films. It’s a good way to learn from experienced filmmakers and also to squeeze out new creative ideas from the young creative people.”

The 10-day film fest attracted more than 62,125 people, while other TIFF-related events within Tokyo gathered more than 160,000 visitors.

Note: Cambodia has also sent entries at the 31st TIFF. ‘In the Life of Music‘ and ‘Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock&Roll’ received praises from renowned filmmakers and the audience. A special feature on these films will be published next week.


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