The 26th Tokyo International Film Festival (October 17 – 25, 2013) opened Thursday, with Tom Hanks posing gamely with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, ahead of the opening night film, the Somali pirate drama “Captain Phillips” in which Mr. Hanks stars.
Prime Minister Abe spoke before the screening about the commitment of the Japanese government to “Cool Japan,” a scheme designed to support the growth and export of soft industries, including audiovisual content and fashion. “I would like to make the growth of content a central part of Japanese economic growth,” he said during his speech in which he also talked up the recent successes of Japanese films abroad. He noted that DreamWorks will remake the Cannes Jury Prize Winner, “Like Father, Like Son” from director Hirokazu Kore-eda.
Prime Minister Abe’s sentiments were also echoed by Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Toshimitsu Motegi, who also spoke at the opening night ceremony in Roppongi Hills. Hanks regailed audiences with an amusing tale of meeting the real life Captain Phillips prior to making the film by Paul Greengrass who was in attendance. The film is based on a real life drama from 2009 in which a cargo ship was pirated and the captain taken hostage. Chen Kaige heads this year’s jury.
Mr. Kaige presented on stage the jury members including the director Chris Weitz, the producer Chris Brown and the Japanese actresses Shinobu Terajima and Moon So-ri. Films in competition this year include the Iran’s “Bending the Rules,” “Barber’s Tale” from The Philippines, and the Georgian film “Blind Dates.”
Tokyo has a long tradition of supporting new directors and also green causes through its Green Carpet and other eco friendly events. Yasushi Shiina serves as director general for the festival this year, taking over the reigns from the outgoing head, Tom Yoda.