Friday, September 18, 2009

Tokyo Int'l film festival: "Action for Earth"!

Yoshino Kimura, Actress & TIFF Ambassador and Tom Yoda,
Chairman, Tokyo International Film Festival were our guests
at FCCJ press luncheon event

22nd TIFF Ambassador Yoshino Kimura

Chairman Tom Yoda

Tom Yoda, a Meiji Daigaku graduate, was appointed
chairman of the Tokyo film festival in March 2008. He has
been in the entertainment-content business since 1988 and
has been chairman of the film distribution/production
company Gaga Communications Inc since 2004, and since this
July majority owner and president/CEO. He owns and heads
other entertainment companies and sits on several outside
boards. He holds or has held posts on many other
entertainment industry representative groups.

Tokyo Int'l film festival

Yoshino Kimura debuted as the lead actress in NHK drama
"Genki wo Ageru" ("I'll Cheer You Up") in 1996. The
following year she won the Japan Academy Prize
rookie-of-the-year award for her first movie role,
"Shitsurakuen" ("Paradise lost"). She won the Academy's
best actress award in 2006 for her role in "Semi Shigure"
(released with English sub-titles as "The Samurai I
Loved"). She has starred in a Hollywood film, "Dream
Cruise," and appeared in more than 50 TV, film and stage
productions. As a singer, she has released singles and

The 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival will continue
its push for environmental awareness and screen the
controversial documentary “The Cove,” a film which shows
the butchering of dolphins in a small Japanese fishing
town, Taiji. Chairman Tatsumi “Tom” Yoda, a Meiji Daigaku
graduated in business management, said at a press luncheon
on Thursday at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

"It is very important for the festival to not only screen
high-quality films from around the globe but to also
educate the world about environmental issues. We live in
this world together, and those of us in the film industry
count on the environment — that is the message we want to

The event starts October 17 with the magnificent
documentary “Oceans” by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud.
TIFF’s week-long run will feature roughly 130 films at
theaters in the Shibuya and Roppongi entertainment
districts of Tokyo. The closer will be Pixar’s “Up,” an
animated adventure up in the sky directed by Pete Docter.

In competition will be four world premieres, including
Jinsei Tsuji’s “Acacia,” starring famous ex-wrestler
Antonio Inoki, “Manila Skies” by Raymond Red and “Snowfall
in Taipei,” a Taiwanese love story by Huo Jianqi. The jury
president will be Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (”Babel”).

Twenty minutes of footage from “Avatar,” the James Cameron
3-D sci-fi feature, and “Sideways,” a Japanese remake of
the Alexander Payne story of love and wine California, are
slotted into the “Special Screenings” section.

Just as last year, the fest will push for ecological
awareness via a “green carpet,” the use of recycled
materials and the distribution of awards for
non-competition films that evoke environmental themes.

“The Cove” had been widely reported to have been refused by
TIFF, but it was confirmed just prior to the finalization
of the lineup. The film, shot by National Geographic
photographer Louie Psihoyos, displays footage of dolphins
being corralled and then killed by sharpened poles in
Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. It has not yet been screened
in Japan. Regarding the documentary, the chairman said
that TIFF very strongly believes in freedom of expression.

“We were subjected to some criticism from some parts of the
media about perhaps engaging in censorship,” he said. “I
would like to make it absolutely clear that we do not
censor any works in any way.” Yet the film will be
accompanied by a disclaimer that will not hold TIFF liable
should any dispute arise during its screening.

Yoda noted that thirty percent of the event’s budget comes
from government sources. The chairman does not expect the
recent change to Japan’s political landscape in which the
Liberal Democratic Party was removed from power during last
month’s lower house victory by the Democratic Party of
Japan — to have an impact on TIFF’s budget allocation,
adding that the fest should be able to maintain at least
this year’s level of support going forward. The arts, Yoda
said, transcend political boundaries. “I believe very
strongly that whether it is the LDP or the DPJ in power
that culture is fundamentally non-partisan.” End of quotes

Kimura-san and I chatted during luncheon, about London,
about Cannes film festival, and I was impressed with her
excellent English and her sparkling personality, typical of
young Japanese women. Here we are watching pictures of her
movie on my Mac: "Killer Virgin Road". Mark Schilling
wrote in Japan Times about this movie : "Are most single
women obsessed with marriage despite their protests to the
contrary? Disappointed in love, do they fall to insecure
pieces, taking solace in late-night cartons of ice cream?"
From what I can see, Yoshino-san is a star on the rise.

Scene of Yoshino Kimura and Juri Ueno in "Killer Virgin Road."

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