23rd Tokyo International Film Festival (Oct. 23-31, 2010)
Action for Earth
by Houshang Rasti
This year’s festival was a totally online event. One month before the festival was launched, the latest news were broken through email. A week before the opening, journalists watched fifteen competition section films which provided them with a good opportunity to see other section’s films during the festival. There was no daily bulletin and news was simply put on the festival’s website. The movie theater special to journalists screened almost all films in all competition sections, special screenings, and the world cinema. Journalists were allotted special ticket quota which enabled them to watch movies along with ordinary viewers.
Not only people, but also film characters roamed along the 200-m green carpet, which like last year, was made of recycled CocaCola bottles. Toyota Prius, an electric car, which can be charged using home power, took the guests to the green carpet. Last year, they had drawn a tree on a big board on which every guest stuck a leaf. This year, however, plastic CocaCola bottles had been used to make a tree which stood at the end of the green carpet and all guests posed in front of it for a photo. Characters form Shrek to animals coming from 3-D movies, were also present on the green carpet.
The opening day, unlike the previous day, was sunny. Japanese actors and filmmakers made their appearance on the green carpet to a warm welcome from bystanders. Korean actors were also favorites. The crowd was beyond itself with joy when they tried to get an autograph from or shake hands with Jesse Eisenberg, the young actor of The Social Network (David Fincher) which was opening entry of the festival, and Noriko Fujiwar, who accompanied Shrek. Seeing the 67-year-old Catherine Deneuve at close range was still exciting. Neil Jordan, who headed the jury, was also there with his wife and young son.
Kaneto Shindo, the 98-year-old Japanese director, whose last film, Postcard, was in the competition appeared in a wheelchair which was pushed ahead by his young granddaughter. I was sure he would win a prize. Imagine a man aged 98 who had been making films for more than 70 years and whose 49th and perhaps the last film was in the competition. How could they deny him a prize while it was evident that he was not enough life or energy left to make a new film? Postcard finally won the special jury prize. It was an anti-war, though sentimental, movie with a fake comic streak. Shindo started to write screenplays with Kenji Mizoguchi in 1934. He hails from Hiroshima and has made many films about the city and war. Postcard was a biographical anti-war movie about the final days of the World War II when 100 middle-aged Japanese soldiers are chosen to go to war by drawing lots. One of them, who believes he would not survive, writes a postcard to his wife and gives it to a friend to take it to his wife once the war is over. Only six out of 100 soldiers live with Shindo being one of them.
Jesse Eisenberg, the actor, and Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter of The Social Network were the last guests to cross the green red. Of course, they were not the last guests to appear on the carpet, but stayed on it for so long giving autographs that they were the last to clear the carpet. When the ceremony was over, it was dark and cold. The opening ceremony had already started though some guests had not reached the hall yet. There were correspondents from Al Jazeera who also interviewed me about the Japanese cinema and its future outlooks.
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