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25th Tokyo International Fim Festival Opens With Thousands Greeting Local Stars

Tokyo Sky Tree
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

The nine-day event takes place at the Roppongi Hills complex, while the accompanying TIFFCOM market will be at a new venue in the Odaiba bay area from Oct. 23 to 25.

TOKYO – The 25th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival opened on Saturday with thousands turning out to see more than 400 celebrities, politicians and the casts from the featured movies who walked the green carpet at the Roppongi Hills complex in the autumn afternoon sunshine.

With no big international star to match the appearance of Jackie Chan in 2011, it was local actors such as Hiroshi Abe who raised the biggest cheers from the crowds, who seemed somewhat subdued compared to recent years.

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Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda missed the chance to be one of the few Japanese premiers to appear more than once at TIFF in recent years, sending his economic minister Yukio Edano instead. The country's revolving-door political leadership has seen a different prime minister appear each year lately.

Edano, who was the face of the government throughout the nuclear crisis at Fukushima last March, told the audience at the opening ceremony he had been too busy to get out to see movies at theaters for the last couple of years, only watching films on airplanes.

“I just watched the special 10-minute screening of the latest Bond film on the big screen with a proper sound system; it reminded me of the power of watching movies in a theater,” Edano said.

“Japanese films are highly acclaimed around the world, but the industry is not yet fulfilling its potential, I believe. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is dedicated to supporting the ... industry reach that potential,” said Edano, whose ministry oversees TIFF.

The competition jury, including president Roger Corman and Oscar-winning director Yojiro Takita (Departures), along with the producer and director of opening film Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, also made stage appearances before the invited dignitaries.

Veteran Hong Kong producer   Raymond Chow   was unable to travel to Tokyo to collect his Special Appreciation Award due to an ear infection, with the chairman of Hong Kong International Film Festival, Wilfred Wong, collecting it for him.

TIFF will run until Oct. 28, when it will close with Clint Eastwood's Trouble with the Curve.

Twitter@GavinJBlair