Tokyo Film Festival Gives Prominence to Chinese Titles in Competition and Gala Selections

Equal numbers of Chinese and Japanese titles adorn the main competition section of the Toyo International Film Festival, which was announced on Wednesday – three each.

Among the Chinese films is “Snow Leopard,” the last feature by the late Pema Tseden, and “Dwelling by the West Lake,” directed by Gu Xiaogang, the surprisingly inexperienced joint recipient of this year’s Kurosawa Award.

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The full competition with 15 titles, set to play between Oct. 23 and Nov. 1, includes the world premiere of Russian director Alexei German Jr.’s “Air” and Filipino director Sheron Dayoc’s “The Gospel of the Beast.”

The trio from Japan are: “(Ab)Normal Desire,” by Kishi Yoshiyuki; “A Foggy Paradise,” by Kotsijui Yohei; and “Who Were We,” by Tomina Tetsuya.

The festival’s gala selection appears designed for entertainment pleasure. In addition to the previously-announced “Perfect Days” and “Godzilla Minus One,” set as the festival’s opening and closing films, there are starring appearances for Zhang Yimou’s period blockbuster “Full River Red” and Ning Hao’s “The Movie Emperor,” which recently premiered in Toronto and was the closing title in Busan. Other gala titles include Taika Waititi’s “Next Goal Wins,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ Venice festival winner “Poor Things” and Tran Anh Hung’s Cannes prize-winner “Pot Au Feu” (aka “The Taste of Things”).

Japanese titles set for gala treatment include Tsukamoto Shinya’s “Shadow of Fire,” and Miike Takashi’s “Lumberjack the Monster,” Kitano Takeshi’s “Neck” and Kaneko Shusuke’s “Gold Boy.”
The World Focus section comprises an unusual mix of significant international releases and restored version of modern classics.

Among the contemporary are Chinese director Liu Jiayin’s “All Ears”; Frederick Wiseman’s “Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros”; Ira Sach’s “Passages”; Lila Aviles’ “Totem”; Pupi Avati’s “Dante”; Giddens Ko’s “Miss Shampoo”; and Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s “20000 Species of Bees”. The older titles include: Wong Kar-wai’s “2046”; a restored version of Franco Zeffirelli’s “Sparrow” and a new 4K version of Hong Kong director Patrick Tam’s “Nomad”.

The renamed Nippon Cinema Now section contains 11 titles, headed by Sora Neo’s already acclaimed documentary “Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus.” It also makes room for four films – 2019’s “On The Edge of Their Seats”; 2021’s “Love Nonetheless”; 2022’s “Believers”; and 2023’s “Twilight Cinema Blues” – by Jojo Hideo, this year’s TIFF director in focus.

Jojo is also responsible for one of the four titles selected for TIFF Series, the festival’s showcase of TV works. His “Passing Fancy” represents episode 1 of pay-broadcaster Wowow’s “Ozu” series in which contemporary directors remake the works of Japanese cinema icon Ozu Yasujiro. (Ozu died 60 years ago and the festival is putting on a previously-announced major retrospective of his work.) Others in the same series include Yoshida Yasuhiro’s recreation of “I Was Born But…” and Matsumoto Yusaku’s revisit of “Dragnet Girl.” Chinese director, Zhang Dalei’s unrelated “Why Try to Change Me Now” also receives its Japanese premiere in the section.

As well as “Perfect Days” and “Anselm” and Wenders’ role in the Ozu celebrations, the Tokyo festival has room for one other Wenders contribution, the world premiere of his short film “Somebody Comes Into the Light.” The film is a dialog-free session between Wenders and Japanese dancer “Tanaka Min.

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