'Babel' director leads Tokyo jury

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu screening 15 competition films

TOKYO -- "Babel" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is back in Japan, a nation he says has long fascinated him -- this time, as head of the jury of the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Like Gonzalez Inarritu's native Mexico, Japan has both the tradition of storytelling and the energy of a defiant avant garde, he told reporters Monday.

On his past experiences working in Japan, he said, "I wanted to shoot everything. The exercise I had was to restrain myself."

Fifteen films are competing at the festival. Gonzalez Inarritu said the jury had just begun to watch them and had no comment on the prospects.

"Babel," the 2006 release which won the Cannes best director award, juxtaposed stories from Japan, Morocco and the U.S.-Mexican border region.

Gonzalez Inarritu recalled that while shooting the film, he was stunned to learn that the use of swear words, and the expression of love from a father to a child, weren't common in Japan.

He had planned to have both in the Japan sequences for "Babel," starring Rinko Kikuchi, but his mostly Japanese crew were uncomfortable about it, he said.

"I don't want to understand," he said with a shrug. "That's the beauty of this country."