Stars Light Up Opening of Tokyo Film Festival

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Left to right: Director Chris Weitz, actress Moon So-Ri, director Chen Kaige, actress Shinobu Terashima, producer Chris Brown

Despite travel delays caused by the huge typhoon that swept across Japan the day before, stars from Asia and Hollywood appeared at the opening of Tokyo Film Festival on Thursday.

TOKYO – The 26th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) opened Thursday with local, Asian and Hollywood stars, including Francis Ford Coppola and daughter Sofia Coppola, walking the distinctive green carpet at the Roppongi Hills complex.

Organizers got the photo op they wanted, with prime minister Shinzo Abe flanked on his right by Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass, star and director of opening film Captain Phillips, and on his left by Koji Yakusho (Memoirs of a Geisha) and Koki Mikitani, star and director of closing title The Kiyosu Conference.

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At the opening ceremony, both Abe and trade and industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi spoke about the success of Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son at Cannes and its subsequent pickup by Steven Spielberg for a DreamWorks remake as an example of the global appeal of Japanese films.

Neither Abe nor jury president Chen Kaige could resist using Hanks’ “Life is like a box of chocolates” quote from Forrest Gump in their speeches at the ceremony.

Kaige explained how he’d been delayed for 24 hours in Beijing due to the massive typhoon, which killed dozens in a landslide on Wednesday, while Hanks and Greengrass also had their travel disrupted.

Fifteen films are competing for the $50,000 Sakura Grand Prix, and other awards including best actor, actress and director will be chosen by an international jury led by Kaige, supported by producers Chris Weitz and Chris Brown, and actresses Shinobu Terajima and Moon So-ri.

Among the dozens of guests on the green carpet before the ceremony were Hong Kong singer-actor Juno Mak, representing his directorial debut Rigor Mortis, appearing with Japanese horror helmer Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge), producer for the project. The film, touted as a return for the Hong Kong horror genre, is competing for the $10,000 prize in the Asian Future section.

The nine-day festival has run from Saturday to Sunday in past years, and the organizers are hoping the new schedule will create “three peaks,” with the opening, middle weekend and closing.

TIFF runs until Oct. 25.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair