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Tezuka’s Barbara and A Beloved Wife are the first two competition titles for this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival.
A Beloved Wife by Shin Adachi is a semiautobiographical tale by the director about a scriptwriter who is struggling in both his career and his marriage. Adachi also wrote 100 Yen Love, which was selected as Japan’s entry for the foreign language Oscar at the 88th Academy Awards.
Adachi said of the couple in the film, “Without giving up the messiness of human relationships, they persistently search for happiness; I wanted to portray that humor and vitality in the film. And because recent Japanese society has become intolerant towards imperfect people, I wanted to depict the importance of accepting others, as well as the importance of both forgiveness and asking to be forgiven.”
To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the birth of legendary manga artist Osamu Tezuka, one of his graphic novels has been brought to the big screen in the shape of Tezuka’s Barbara. Directed by his son Macoto Tezuka and set in contemporary Tokyo, the film tells the story of a complex relationship between novelist Yosuke Mikura (Goro Inagaki) and a young and carefree woman (Fumi Nikaido) named Barbara.
Cinematography duties are handled by Christopher Doyle, known for his work with Wong Kar-wai and other Chinese filmmakers, and who also worked with Japanese actor Joe Odagiri on his upcoming directorial feature debut, They Say Nothing Stays the Same.
“It’s a miracle that the muse of art smiled on the 90th anniversary of Osamu Tezuka’s birth. Barbara was said to be a very unique piece of work from Osamu Tezuka, but for me it was perfect. A devilish story that, while it isn’t straightforward, has been transformed into a fascinating dream with the beautiful aesthetics of Christopher Doyle intermingled with the beautiful performances of Goro Inagaki and Fumi Nikaido,” said the director.
Osamu Tezuka was known as the “godfather of manga” and created the seminal Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu) manga and anime, which in the early 1960s was the first Japanese animation shown on U.S. television. The manga sold more than 100 million copies and generated billions of dollars in merchandise sales.
Tezuka’s Kimba the White Lion manga was in the 1960s made into the first color animated series in Japan. The recent Disney remake of The Lion King reignited the controversy around the similarities between it and Tezuka’s work.
This year, 1,804 films from 115 countries were submitted to TIFF and the full lineup will be announced Sept. 26.
The fest will run Oct. 28 to Nov. 5.
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