Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Daihachi Yoshida’s “Pale Moon”

Everything at the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) scales vast spaces, dizzying heights and awesome high tech. It is set in the sprawling upbeat Roppongi Hills complex which embraces a host of public venues such as restaurants, shops, relaxation areas and a splendid museum. The 2014 TIFF takes place in the Mori Building West which houses several theatres, the festival’s office rooms as well as meeting places such as the Press computer room, the festival video room to catch films one has missed, and banquet rooms for events and parties. This is on the 49th floor (the building has 51 floors in all).  TIFF is supported by the Japanese government in conjunction with the country’s leading conglomerates, the latter input accounting for its large-scale organization.

The steady drizzle on opening night (October 23) did not deter the festival’s glitz  as guests from around Asia, Europe and Hollywood traipsed damp the red carpet alongside Japan’s Prime Minister, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado and leading State politicians.

The august audience then watched the world premiere of Don Hall and Chris Williams' animation “Big Hero 6”, released locally by Disney. With the story set in San Fransokyo, a fictional combination of Tokyo and San Francisco, and the festival's emphasis on animation this year, the film provided the ideal start to the coming ten days.

The lavish party that followed saw glimpses of several friends of Indian cinema, such as Christian Jeune  from Cannes, Cameron Bailey from Toronto (on jury duty),

Kim Dong-ho, Honorary Director of the Busan film festival, Nashen Moodley – Sydney Film Festival director and also Asia/Africa programmer for Dubai film festival, the Japanese film critic Tadao Sato, among many others.

On the first day press conference programming director Yoshi Yatabe said that all 15 feature films competing this year convey portrayals of “people with their backs to the wall”, people who are cornered and wondering "how they are going to live tomorrow."  

The six member International jury seconded the choice of films. Chaired by American writer, director, producer, actor, musician, cartoonist James Gunn, the jury comprised Korea-born filmmaker John H. Lee (“A Moment to Remember”, 2004), Australian director Robert Luketic (forthcoming female-led “Expendabelles”), Singapore's Eric Khoo (Cannes 2008 Palme d'Or contender, “My Magic”), Japanese comedian/director Hiroshi Shinagawa (“One Third”, 2013), and veteran casting director Debbie McWilliams (“Skyfall”, 2012). At their media meet, the jury were both articulate and open about their impassioned crusading of cinema that is truthful and enlightening, the kind that should form the core of a film festival.

Chairperson Gunn, referring to this year’s TIFF, said, "It's great to have these pockets of real culture ... It's important to have events that acknowledge films as something other than commerce, so that it doesn't become a world where movies are made purely to make a lot of money and don't have any heart."

Director Luketic added that he viewed cinema as a “beacon of hope that illuminates the global human condition."  Considering the world’s difficult and challenging times, he said, “Films that can offer me hope and a sense that we're all kind of in this together -- that's sort of what I would look for, something truthful in that regard."

The festival announced the inauguration of the Samurai Award, to be presented to veteran filmmakers who “continue to create ground-breaking films that carve out a path to a new era.” The first recipients are Japanese director Takeshi Kitano and US director Tim Burton, whose “Big Eyes” was screened at the festival. Other sections announced include World Focus (films screened at major fests, but with no Japanese distribution), Asian Future (films by new Asian directors, including Japan and the Middle East), Japanese Cinema Splash (Japanese indie films) and Special Screenings (commercial films to be released in Japan over the last quarter of the year). Other key sections cover the work of animator Hideaki Anno, films from the New York Museum of Modern Art  (MoMA) collection, and new Thai films presented by the Japan Foundation Asian Center.

A luncheon was hosted the first day by the Japan Foundation’s Asia Center allying itself with the cinema industry in Asia and its individual festivals to promote their combined film culture. The same evening saw The Japan Foundation celebrate its presentation of Thai films in this year’s Tokyo festival and also its intention to work closely with Asia’s festivals to extend the strength of Asian films. Curiously, in the list of countries named or aimed for in this laudable collaboration, India was not mentioned even once. It would appear that the Near East remains somewhat outside the orbit of cinematic goals being heralded in the Far East – a situation that surely needs to be addressed and corrected.

The handful of films, mostly in competition, were steeped in the dire crises, often self created that individuals face amid the forces that shape our times. The much touted sole Japanese competition film, Daihachi Yoshida’s “Pale Moon” featured top star Rei Miyazawa as a disgruntled woman caught is a dull marriage.  Starting as a banking clerk, her swift promotions lead to her embezzling funds to free herself. The film ends on an ambiguous note, taking no position on her motivations.

Another ,low-key Japanese film, Takashi Nishihara’s debut work “Starting Over”, unfolded a poignant story of two schoolgirls drawn whose inseparable closeness develops into a lesbian relationship, largely because their home lives shut them out any sign of love or understanding.

The Spanish film “Flowers” directed by Jon GaraƱo and Jose Maria Goenaga, takes the onslaught of menopause into a surreal longing for love which changes the lives of three women stemming from one of them mysteriously receiving a bouquet of flowers every week without a clue of who the sender is.

From the Philippines, “Above The Clouds” directed by Pepe Diokno, starts with devastating scenes of a major flood that took hundreds of lives, and then zeroes  into a 15-year-old orphaned by it. He is sent to live with his eccentric, grubby grandfather. His initial grief and resentment finally gives way to an acceptance that life has something to give even when it denies you everything at one stroke.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Aamir Khan gets superstar reception at the Tokyo International Film Festival


AAmir Khan and director Vijay Krishna Acharya )check name) of Dhoom 3

Aamir Khan and director Vijay (Victor) Krishna Acharya of Dhoom 3

October 29, two days prior to the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival's closing its ten day run, was the day for Dhoom 3 to be screened for the first time in Japan as an official selection at the festival. Aamir Khan was in town, along with the director of the film, Vijay (Victor) Krishna Acharya,  for the film's press conference followed by the screening. Both events were eagerly awaited by the local film audience and were touched with high excitement and anticipation. Both were packed to the brim with an almost 100 percent Japanese audience. Dhoom 3  is releasing in Japan on December 5, 2014 in 100 cinemas, the highest ever for an Indian film.

Aamir Khan has become a well-known name after his film 3 Idiots became a huge hit when it was released in Japan in June 2013.  As a matter of fact, because of recent Indian hits in the Japanese film market, there is an upward curve of interest in Indian cinema in Japan right now.  

The press conference was packed with around 100 Japanese media from TV and print attending.  The questions came  fast and furious and many had to remain disappointed for lack of time. Then, in the very same Press room, a brand new BMW motor-cycle was brought in for a photo session with both the famous actor and his director.

At the full-house public screening of the film, the audience applauded the two again – some gave him bouquets, others a token of appreciation, making it clear that in Japan, Aamir Khan is now a rage and a star. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

16 | 25 October 2014

Bollywood is back at the Rome Film Festival: the celebrated Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj to present Haider and walk the red carpet with star Shahid Kapoor,
along with dances and choreographies to the sounds of the film’s score

Bhardwaj meets the Festival audience and is the protagonist of an onstage conversation on “Shakespeare and Cinema” at the Teatro Argentina

Bollywood takes another bow at the Rome Film Festival: today, Friday October 24th, at 9:30pm, the Festival hosts the premiere of Haider, the new film from Vishal Bhardwaj, Indian writer-director-producer as well as composer and singer, renowned for his masterful and innovative screen adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. Maqbool (2003) was based on “Macbeth” and Omkara (2006) on “Othello”; the two, which met with critical and popular acclaim in India and abroad, make up the first two parts of the trilogy which concludes with Haider, based on “Hamlet”.

The film, which will be screened in the Sala Sinopoli at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, features an impressive cast of Bollywood stars: Shahid Kapoor, honored at the Filmfare Awards, the Indian film industry’s most important accolades; and Tabu, considered one of the best actresses in Hindi cinema today, who has won the prestigious National Film Award for many of her film roles, and also starred in The Namesake, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival.

It’s going to be a crowded red carpet at 9 p.m. as Vishal Bhardwaj and Shahid Kapoor file down the aisle with the dance troupe “BollyMasala Dance Company”, which specializes in Bollywood dance. The troupe, directed by Ambili Abraham, a dancer and choreographer for Cinematic dance and a Bollywood dance icon in Italy since 2000, will sway to the rhythms of the film’s soundtrack. The film has already met with overwhelming success in India, a hit with audiences and critics alike.

Earlier in the day, at 6 p.m., Vishal Bhardwaj will be at the Teatro Argentina for a talk with the Festival audience devoted to “Shakespeareand Cinema”. The conversation will take place in the Sala Squarzina, which hosted the screenings of Maqbool and Omkara last Monday. The Indian filmmaker will be dialoguing with theater critic Attilio Scarpellini and directors Andrea Baracco and Veronica Cruciani, who have already devoted two stage productions to “Hamlet”.

Fondazione Cinema per Roma
Press Office | International Press
Viale Pietro de Coubertin, 10
00196 Roma

Rome Film Festival | Festival Internazionale del Film di Roma
October 16-25, 2014

Diary From The Tokyo International Film Festival


Aamir Khan

Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) was launched in 1985 as a biannual event. 1991 onwards it became annual. Among Asia’s leading competitive festivals, TIFF’s awards have changed over the years. However, the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix for the Best Film has remained its top award. Other regular prizes include the Special Jury Award and best actor, best actress and best director awards. TIFF now takes place in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills development. Its events include open-air screenings, voice-over screenings, and appearances by actors, seminars and symposiums related to the film market, and sight-seeing tours that connect to the country’s unique setting and culture.

Aamir Khan at the Fest

TIFF has always shown an interest in Indian cinema screening unusual films such as S S Rajamouli’s “Makkhi” (2012) and Anant Gandhi’s “Ship of Theseus” (2012) in previous years.

2014 TIFF screens two unusual and polarised Indian films. One features in ‘World Focus -Discovering Asian Cinema’ -- the widely traveled “Song of Apu” (Apur Panchali) directed by Kaushik Ganguly. It traces the real life story inspired by Subir Banerjee, the child actor who played the iconic role of Apu in Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece “Pather Panchali”. Despite such a prime start to an acting career,Apu’ Banerjee never took another film role in his life. Eerily enough, his real life existence started bearing an uncanny resemblance to the 'reel life' Apu.

TIFF 2014 also welcomes Aamir Khan as a high profile guest appearance at the Special Screening “Dhoom: 3” directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya. The film is expected to screen on October 29. This marks Aamir Khan’s first official visit to Japan. He is traveling with his wife Kiran Rao and their son Azad Rao Khan. It is said that the family may celebrate Kiran’s birthday (November 7) in style in Japan.

Doors Open for Indian cinema

2014 TIFF’s rich feast of international cinema and Japanese films augurs well for India. The festival’s scenario now reflects Japan’s doors opening to release Indian films.

Mr.Aki Sugihara, the executive vice president (international operations) of Japan's oldest film production and distribution firm, Nikkatsu Corporation, now famous as the new Pioneer of Indian Cinema in the film industry Of Japan, first came to India in 2011 to attend the Mumbai Film Mart (MFM), an annual business-to-business platform at the Mumbai Film Festival. Since then, his company has released four Indian films in Japan –“3 Idiots(2009) , which I gather is still showing, Farhan Akhtar’s “Don 2” (2011) starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kabir Khan’s “Ek Tha Tiger” (2012) starring Salman Khan and Yash Chopra’s “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” (2012) starring Shah Rukh Khan. Subsequently Gauri Shinde’s “English-Vinglish” too had a good release.

3 Idiots and Bachchan

When “3 Idiots” unleashed in Japanese markets in June 2013, it went on to collect around ¥100 million (61 million) in its first two weeks, making it the highest grosser Hindi film ever in Japan. It was nominated for the Japanese Oscar (the foreign films category along with other Hollywood films). Mr Sugihara affirms that the number of Indian releases will soon double. He has also been busy with the release of “Makkhi” in his country.

Korean-born Japanese filmmaker Sang-il Lee (“Hula Girls”, 2006) showcased his “Unforgiven” last year in 44th International Film Festival of India (IFFI, Goa), where he said in an interview, "It's my first time in India … I can say that Amitabh Bachchan and the film '3 Idiots' are very popular in Japan."

Rajinikant sets the Trend

The acceptance of a more wide-based collection of new Indian films follows the phenomenal appeal of Tamil superstar Rajinikanth in Japan ever since his 1996-super hit “Muthu” (1995) released in the country. It ran for a record 23 weeks, to about 90 percent occupancy, and became a top hit in Japan. It then had a successful cross country run through the WOWTOW private TV channel and DVDs, finally making it to the coveted broadcast list of NHK, which aired the film in 2001.

Since then, Rajini is a household name in Japan and the most popular Indian star in the country. Now Aamir Khan follows in his wake. His appearance at 2014 TIFF promises to fuel Japan’s burgeoning interest in Indian cinema.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column