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The skies cleared just in time for the celebrities to walk the eco-themed green carpet to the opening ceremony of the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) on Saturday afternoon.
With an early stage appearance by Jackie Chan scheduled before the ceremony, the Hong Kong star was the first big name to be seen at the Roppongi Hills Venue in central Tokyo where the fest is based. Long hugely popular here, Chan boosted his standing even further with his big fund-raising efforts for victims of the March disasters in Japan.
For this edition of the festival, the theme of helping recovery from the disasters has joined the eco message that TIFF adopted in 2008.
The hula dancing girls from a Hawaiian-themed spa resort in Fukushima Prefecture walked the carpet to some of the loudest cheers of the afternoon. The resort had its business devastated as fears about radiaiton kept tourists away and it only reopened this month – an event that was recorded for a documentary that will be screened at the fest.
The rain held off as the procession of domestic and international celebreties and dignitaries continued for almost three hours.
At the opening ceremony, Chan, whose 1911 is half of an opening double bill with The Three Musketeers, entertained the audience, and kept the translators busy, as he cut into Japanese and English during his speech in Chinese.
Chan handed the mic over to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who expressed his appreciation to the global film community for its messages of support following March’s triple disasters, before giving a special thanks to Chan.
“I remember the old version of The Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly as D’Artagnan very well,” said Noda.
The prime minsiter went on to recall how he had copied James Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington in making a 13 hour filibuster speech when he was a young politician
“Films have the power to create memories and make impressions of that kind,” said Noda.
Next on stage was Yukio Edano, the current trade and industry minister, who was the face and voice of the government throughout the darkest days of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima.
Confessing that he thought the film industry came under the auspices of the culture ministry, Edano said he was surprised to be asked to speak at the opening ceremony.
“However, I realized how producing and selling wonderful films is a business and one that my industry and I have a responsibility to support. I pledge to put more effort into doing so,” said Edano to the enthusiastic applause of the film industry section of the audience.
Before the opening screening of The Three Musketeers, director Paul W.S. Anderson was joined onstage by cast members Milla Jovovich (Milady), Logan Lerman (D’Artagnan) and Gabriella Wilde (Constance).
Jovovich congratulated husband Anderson on “finally making a movie we can show our daughter.”
TIFF runs until Oct. 30, while the TIFFCOM market will be held at the same Roppongi Hills complex from Oct. 24 to 26.
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