Green Zone

TIFF Eco Focus Grows

The green policy of Tokyo, the city, was evident upon check in at one of the Tokyo International Film Festival’s main hotels, the Villa Fontaine, where a poster in the lobby spells out all of the eco-friendly policies. These range from energy-saving measures revolving around lighting and temperature adjustments in the lobby to the choice of having one’s bed sheets changed only every other day.

Meanwhile, at the festival proper, green initiatives have taken on an ever-greater role at the 10-day event, since they were first introduced three years ago.

The most evident symbol of TIFF’s environmentally friendly focus is its green carpet — a play off the traditional red carpet that must play havoc with stylists’ minds. Still, it gets the point across in no uncertain terms that TIFF is serious about saving the planet.

In keeping with the spirit of things, sponsors and guests get to walk the carpet wearing bright green bow-ties, which one guest admitted to attempting to eat with his sausages after a few glasses of sake.

But beyond this bold statement, there are many other efforts being made. Accredited TIFF journalists could be seen sporting Ecopet canvas bags, which contained a brochure outlining some of the efforts the festival is making. “Going green is a global trend which the festival and its sponsors are very serious about,” TIFF chairman Tom Yoda said. “We started three years ago, and have been introducing more and more measures and we will develop this further.”

The festival’s green initiatives include green power being used for all screenings. In 2009, this meant that the festival reduced its CO2 emissions by 33 tons, the equivalent of the amount of power used by 5,133 households in one day. The green carpet, which was first introduced in 2008, meanwhile, is made from no less than 23,000 recycled plastic bottles.

And during the festival, there are donation boxes placed at various events to collect money for green charities. Organizations that benefited from this collection in 2009 include the Green Tokyo Fundraising Campaign, the Japan-Malaysia Assn.’s Kinoshita Forest, The National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization’s Lawson Green Fund and the National Federation of UNESCO Association in Japan’s Future Heritage Project.

Over at the green carpet area at the Oyana Plaza, Roppongi Hills, TIFF sponsors introduce eco-related products and cars.

The green theme even extends to the festival programming. The Natural TIFF section features films focusing on the relationship between man and earth. Titles this year include Cane Toads: The Conquest, which is about a plague of toads that create environmental havoc; Summer Pasture, which follows a nomadic couple living in Tibet; and The Happy Poet, about an out-of-work poet who opens a veggie foodstand. 

The best of these films could win Toyota’s Earth Grand Prix prize, which is awarded to an “outstanding film exploring the relationship between nature, the environment and ecology.” 

Each year, TIFF also organizes a TIFF Earth Conference, where directors and environmental experts swap notes on current ecological topics.

Last year, TIFF introduced the Green Carpet Club to further develop the festival’s green initiatives. The club’s mission is to work to promote issues that will help preserve the natural environment of the earth and maintain a sustainable society. Recent projects have included a tree planting project in the Tokyo Bay area. 

“Green is the obvious color for this campaign, but next year you might even see water as the theme,” Yoda said. “Water is the biggest issue facing the planet.”

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