Global gathering at Tokyo

Evolving fest slates more int'l pics

The 20th annual Tokyo International Film Festival's competition lineup will feature three world premieres, including "Crossing Over," a joint production selected as the Japan-China Friendship 35th Anniversary Memorial Screening.

TIFF chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa on Wednesday emphasized the event's evolution into a larger showcase for Japan's entertainment talent, while general programming director Kazuo Kuroi said that titles chosen from Europe, the Americas and the Middle East were "especially distinctive."

"Every year since I took the reins of TIFF, we have tried to figure out how to make the event a more international film festival," Kadokawa said. "We began as a Tokyo event, but we have grown enormously since then."

The other world premieres are Yu Nakai's "Bloody Snake Under the Sun" and "Dangerous Parking," directed by the U.K.'s Peter Howitt.

Fifteen films will screen in the main competition including the Israeli-French title "The Band's Visit," which will contend for the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix alongside Mexican director Ernesto Contreras' "Blue Eyelids," "Gandhi My Father" from India's Feroz Annas Khan and Jacob Thuesen's "Erik Nietzsche —The Early Years."

Also in the competition mix are the German comedy "Leroy," Iranian-Japanese co-production "Hafez," Polish helmer Andrzej Jakimowski's "Tricks," "The Stone Angel" from Canada's Kari Skogland and the Adam Sandler-Don Cheadle starrer "Reign Over Me."

The competition is rounded out by "Waiting for Someone," from France's Jerome Bonnell; Italy's "The Waltz"; and another joint Japanese-Chinese title, "The Western Trunk Line," by Li Jixian.

Celebrating two decades, TIFF begins its nine-day run Oct. 20 at the Roppongi Hills cinema complex in central Tokyo and other venues around the city.

Making their debut this year are the eight-film World Cinema section and the Tokyo in Focus banner, which includes 50-plus titles set in the Japanese capital, among them Chris Marker's "Sans Soleil" and Akira Kurosawa's "The Wonderful Sunday."

The Japanese Eyes section will include nine titles, while this year's Winds of Asia sidebar will place a special emphasis on films from the Middle East.

Underlining the festival's commitment to productions that cross international barriers, "Midnight Eagle," a joint production between Shochiku and Universal Japan, will open the event, while Japan-Canada-Italy co-production "Silk" has been tapped to close the event.

This year, TIFF for the first time falls under the umbrella of the Japan International Contents Festival, a 40-day showcase of 20 events that began Wednesday. It includes the Tokyo Game Show, the Japan Animation Contents Meeting, the International TV Drama Festival and the Akihabara Entertainment Festival.