27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON JAPANESE ANIMATION (PART 1)
Becoming a longtime dream of Yasushi Shiina, the new director general of Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) since 2013, the festival took the big step in its 27th edition this year, with a special focus in animation. The idea of spreading wider awareness in animation genre as one of the biggest part in Japanese entertainment industry through the theme of the festival was not an easy way, though. The crucial point is how to showcase anime films with the bigger impact than any festivals have gone before, and to wrap it along with other selections in the vein of the festival all these years, as one of the largest international film festivals throughout Asia.
Playing an important key role to make it happen was Toshio Suzuki, the chief producer and co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Having long experience in one of the largest and most well-known Japanese animation industry, Suzuki helped Shiina to accomplish this idea. Instead of just putting more anime films in the festival lineups, they choose one iconic person in the industry to represent this culture. Hideaki Anno, the professional animator behind ‘Evangelion’ and many well known animation works including Ghibli’s films, filled the festival with this year’s most highlighted retrospective event, ‘The World of Hideaki Anno’, which screened over 50 films over his succesful carreer. To maximize the experience, ‘Evangelion’ gigantic character figure unit-01 (2m height), ‘King Joe’ and diorama of Tsuburaya production will be displayed at Toho Cinema Nihonbashi with the screening of ‘Ultra Seven’ HD remastered 2.0 edition.
TIFF also put another name, Shigeru Miyamoto, senior managing director of Nintendo and known as the father of ‘Super Mario Bros’, ‘Donkey Kong’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’ with the screening of his ‘Pikmin’ shorts along with other animation movie like ‘Appleseed’, ‘Attack on Titan : First Part’, ‘Doraemon’ and episodes of ‘The Next Generation Patlabor’ to welcome the upcoming live-action version of the famous animation.
And Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’ (titled ‘Baymax’ in Japan theatrical release) world premiere is a fortunate coincidence to actualize this special focus on animation as the theme of the festival. With the huge success of ‘Frozen’ throughout Japan, they wanted a Disney movie to open the festival. Luckily, ‘Big Hero 6’ is like a Disney’s special gift to Japanese reception of ‘Frozen’, too, where the elements was built over John Lasseter’s love to Japanese culture over the years. Combining both culture on animation, ‘Big Hero 6’, as seen from the trailers, have many recognitions of Japanese anime and other cultures.
Moreover, they even held the special event in the 2nd day of the festival, which took place in the EX-Roppongi Theatre and concert hall, where John Lasseter did a special talk show titled ‘Cool Japan’ as in Japan’s strategy in their entertainment industry. Telling his fans a lifelong story on how his successful career and works all these years was influenced over his admire to Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Lupin III’, many elements of ‘Totoro’ and other Japanese culture that also was seen in his previous movies like ‘Cars 2’, Lasseter presented over one hour of awesomeness in this special event.
The Red Carpet Event
Opened the event, the TIFF’s red carpet, like the previous years, was held in the Roppongi Hills arena. The event commenced with the appearance of Festival Muse Japanese actress Miki Nakatani, festival navigators Harry Sugiyama and Azusa Okamoto, and the surprise appearance of ‘Arashi’, one of the most prominent artist group in Japan, as the festival ambassador. Along with some musical and culinary events introducing nowadays trend in Japan, the appearance of this group consists of multitalented singer and also actors was meant to reach wider awareness to the festival.
The red carpet then rolled by the appearance of the jury members, actors, actresses and film staff from around the world, animation characters, also many young Japanese independent filmmakers who got selected in Japanese Cinema Splash category and Japan Foundation’s Crosscut Asia : Thai Fascination section doing photo sessions, meet their fans and signing autographs. Like John Lasseter said, ‘We are so excited to be here. Konbanwa, Tokyo International Film Festival!’
The Opening Ceremony