Tokyo Film Festival 2013

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By Manju Mittal

After visiting Cannes film festival early this year I quickly planned my next foray and landed in Japan my dream country to be part of the Tokyo film Festival as Japanese films are some of the best films, very different than  films from other parts of the world .I was highly impressed by Japan as a country and its people and their hospitality. A visit to Mount Fuji was one of the best trip I have ever made anywhere and this great mountain looked magnificent which even the Japanese people love rather worship.

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The Tokyo Film Festival started out in 1985 and was held every two years until the festival became an annual event. Tokyo is a place for people to have fun. Japan is a truly unique place where people can be inspired to create new kinds of entertainment. Tokyo is the best city to watch films not only Japanese, but also international. This year Tokyo film festival had the highest number of International celebrities to grace it with Hollywood biggies such as Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Director Paul Greengrass, Francis Ford Coppola and Sofia Coppola attending the festival.

The 26th Tokyo Film Festival kicked off on October 17, 2013 with a parade of stars along its green carpet to the theatre where the festival opened with actor Tom Hanks’ movie ‘Captain Phillips’. Tom Hanks and director of ‘Captain Phillips’ joined Japan’s  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the carpet.  The 57 year old actor Tom Hanks flashed a handsome smile while attending the opening ceremony. Tom Hanks then sent out the inspiring message to movie fans in Japan. It was an amazing moment for me to watch as there were numbers of fans out to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. Film director Chen Kaige was honoured as the president of Jury along with other Jury Members director Chris Weltz, Producer Chris Brown, Actress Shinobu Terajima and Moonsori.

It was truly a joy to experience and see films from all over the world for their big premiere with thousands of crowds and at times in the company of celebrities with name and fame. There were two Indian movies screened at Tokyo film festival. Indian cinema is currently witnessing a new wave in terms of its scripts and screenplay, although Japan and India seem to be close to each other spiritually through movies but their movie genres are miles apart. Japanese are attracted to Bollywood movies lie everyone in the world. The special screening of movie ‘Bhopal – A Prayer for Rain’ took place in Tokyo on October 18. It is a brilliantly made movie by director Ravi Kumar. Bhopal tragedy is deeply etched in my mind and this movie freshened my memory of how tragic the event was and how it impacted the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy. All that came pouring into the present as I saw reels and reels as tragedy unfolded a reminder that I personally felt close to being from Bhopal region and where I was present myself in 1984 during the unforgettable tragedy brought on the innocent poor of Bhopal while they were sleeping. I remember the chemical smoke that filled the city that eerie night. After the screening

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I interviewed Director Ravi Kumar when he said that he felt extremely honoured that his movie ‘Bhopal A prayer for Rain’ was chosen by the Tokyo Film Festival. He was very happy with the response it received. Another Indian movie I enjoyed watching S.S Rajamouli’s ‘Makkhi’, this movie came as a total surprise to me, I did not expect that I would love it so much. The computer generated Fly (Makkhi) does everything that a human does, Makkhi is a landmark film and has taken Indian cinema to a next level. It was good to see that India is getting a lot of recognition on the  global platform such as Tokyo. I personally enjoyed watching Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian movies as well at the festival. My favourite film of the festival was Japanese movie ‘Walking with a friend’ directed by director Akira Ogata. In his Q & A Okira said, “The film is like a bowl of simple noodles without any garnish—only noodles and plain soup. The soup is the screenplay, and the actors are the noodles. What I wanted to do was to bring out the simple, yet full and rich flavor of the story and the acting.’

‘Walking with a friend’ is some thing so special a movie that I have seen after a long long time. This beautiful movie was made on a shoestring budget as Ogata said that he started it off with the savings he had for a guitar and asked most of the people to work in it for free including the main actor Aoki-san.

As the movie title conveys, there are a lot of walking scenes in the film. “I’ve always liked roads, especially junctions of three roads. There’re such junctions in every movie I’ve made.” The poster for Walking with a Friend is shot at a three-road junction as well. Ogata described this choice of road as “an interesting idea for a film in terms of choosing which way to go when at crossroads.”

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The 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival ended on October 25. President of Jury Chen Kaige commented, “For the last seven days we have worked very hard to do our duty, we must say that we are very happy with the final result.”

Awards were announced at the closing ceremony.  Best film was ‘Forma’ directed by Ayumi Sakamoto, Best director was Benedlkt Erlingsson for the movie ‘Of Horses & Men and Best actress was Eugen Domingo for ‘Barber’s Tales’ and Best actor Wang Jingchun, Award for best artistic contribution went to ‘The empty hours’ directed by Aaron Fernandez and Best audience award went to ‘Red Family’ directed by Leeju- Hyoung.

Tokyo film festival was divine and I am not exaggerating as it was one of the most satisfying Film Festival I have ever attended and loved every single moment of it. Well organised, well coordinated and consistently of high quality all the way. Tokyo is an absolutely gorgeous place besides the festival and I loved country Japan fro its exceptionally good food, the culture and the people. I still can’t get over how amazingly polite Japanese people are, they went out of their way to be helpful and I made few good Japanese friends. Tokyo film festival was an unforgettable experience that I will never forget. As Tokyo has been chosen to host 2020 Olympics and I definitely plan to be there and see rest of the country with more time on my hands.

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