Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tokyo International Film Festival announces this year's line-up

by Chris MaGee

We're just a month away from the other TIFF that Japanese film fans are keeping an eye on, that being the 22nd Annual Tokyo International Film Festival (Sorry Toronto, you'll have to share your TIFF monikor), and to gear ourselves up the official festival website has been updated with this year's line-up of films. There's more on hand than can be covered in this article, but here are a few films that jump out at me that you might all be interested in.

First up is the latest from 26-year-old filmmaking powerhouse Yuya Ishii, "To Walk Beside You" (above). Recently we premiered Ishii's 2007 comedy "Girl Sparks" here in Toronto at the Shinsedai Cinema Festival, but this film seems to be shifting gears for Ishii with the storyline following the romance between a 34-year-old high school teacher and her student.

Next up is an omnibus film based around one of my favorite books of all time, Yasunari Kawabata's short story collection "Palm-of-the-Hand Stories". The title is very apt with none of the stories being longer than four pages (some are only a page in length), and in this film adaptation four directors (Takushi Tsubokawa, Nobuyuki Miyake, Tsukasa kishimoto, and Yuya Takahashi) translate these slight and subtle tales to the big screen.

One film that is already receiving a certain amount of buzz online is "Acacia" directed by Jinsei Tsuji. It stars former pro-wrestler Antonio Inoki as... here's a stretch... a former pro-wrestler named Daimajin who regretting his relationship with his own son tries to right those wrongs by befriending a lonely boy.

One last minute addition to the line-up is more than a bit of a surprise. According to Japan Today programmers added Louie Psihoyos's documentary "The Cove" to this year's fest at the very last minute, so last minute in fact that it wasn't even listed in the programme book. Instead it's been written up on a one page addendum inserted into the programme. For those of you who don't know "The Cove" follows dolphin trainer and eco-activist Ric O’Barry as he tries to expose the annual dolphin massacre that takes place in the seaside town of Taiji, Japan. It looks like a fascinating film, but one that most Japanese might have some trouble with. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean.

For more on what to expect from this year's Tokyo International Film Festival click here.

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