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16 films to compete for top honors at 31st Tokyo International Film Festival

From left, Masaaki Yuasa, Junji Sakamoto, Mayu Matsuoka, Yukino Kishii, and Rikiya Imaizumi attend a news conference to announce the lineup of the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), at Toranomon Hills in Tokyo's Minato Ward, on Sept. 25, 2018. (Mainichi/Rei Oikawa)

TOKYO -- Eight world premieres will feature among the 16 films competing for the top prize at the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), Japan's biggest film event set to kick off in October, organizers announced at a Sept. 25 news conference.

    Two Japanese movies, "Just Only Love" and "Another World," will be among the 16, chosen from 1,829 titles submitted by 109 countries and regions. Programming directors at the media event held at Toranomon Hills Forum in Tokyo's Minato Ward also disclosed the full lineup of films slated for the festival's many sections such as Asian Future and Japanese Cinema Splash.

    Filipino director Brillante Ma Mendoza will preside over the International Competition Jury this year. Joining him are U.S. producer Bryan Burk, Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, Hong Kong director and producer Stanley Kwan, and Japanese actress Kaho Minami.

    Festival Director Takeo Hisamatsu explains the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)'s vision, at Toranomon Hills in Tokyo's Minato Ward, on Sept. 25, 2018. (Mainichi/Rei Oikawa)

    Festival Director Takeo Hisamatsu, who renewed TIFF's policy to be "expansive, empowering and enlightening" when he assumed the office last year, declared the event would "pursue (these) three principles rather than trying a new theme." There will be a gala screening of Japanese director Yukihiko Tsutsumi's "The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps" midway through the festival as a way to "share the joys of cinema," Hisamatsu said. Other special screenings will include the festival's opening film "A Star Is Born" by U.S. actor-director Bradley Cooper, and the closing film "Godzilla: The Planet Eater," an animated feature from directors Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita.

    Actress Mayu Matsuoka, the 31st TIFF Ambassador, commented that she would like to "add glamour (to the festival), and out the abilities of young actors on display." Matsuoka expressed gratitude toward film actress Kirin Kiki, who passed away on Sept. 15, as they had performed together in the 2018 Cannes Palme d'Or-winning film "Shoplifters." Matsuoka stated, "I want to study harder and become like Kiki, and be someone who can be a link to the next generation."

    Junji Sakamoto, director of competition contestant "Another World," explained that he chose Goro Inagaki -- a former member of the Japanese pop group SMAP -- to play a middle-aged charcoal maker struggling with his life and relationships because of Inagaki's unaffected character and "earthiness."

    Meanwhile, Yukino Kishii takes a star turn as Teruko in director Rikiya Imaizumi's story of unrequited affection "Just Only Love," based on the novel by Mitsuyo Kakuta.

    When Kishii was asked if she thought that Teruko, who devotes her life entirely to the person she loves, was in an unhealthy relationship, she replied, "When I was playing the role of Teruko, I didn't notice that I (Teruko) was making a mistake."

    This year's Animation Focus section is made up of four feature length films by anime director Masaaki Yuasa including "Devilman Crybaby," and a series of shorts selected by Yuasa that he directed or helped create. Yuasa revealed he felt nervous and surprised considering the many famous animators that had been chosen before him. However, he appreciated "that many people who haven't seen my work before will have this opportunity."

    Close to 200 films will be screened during the 10-day festival. Unique events will also be held every day, such as all-night screenings, an anime music show, stage appearances by performers and directors, Q&A sessions, and symposia featuring world-famous guests.

    The 31st TIFF will run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 3, at cinemas in Roppongi Hills, EX Theater Roppongi in the capital's Minato Ward, Tokyo Midtown Hibiya in Chiyoda Ward, and other theaters, halls and facilities.

    Below is the full lineup of films in the Competition section, their directors and countries of origin:

    -- "Amanda" / Mikhael Hers, France / Asian Premiere

    -- "Another World" / Junji Sakamoto, Japan / World Premiere

    -- "Before the Frost" / Michael Noer, Denmark / Asian Premiere

    -- "The Bra" / Veit Helmer, Germany and Azerbaijan / World Premiere

    -- "The Father's Shadow" / Gabriela Amaral Almeida, Brazil / International Premiere

    -- "The Great Darkened Days" / Maxime Giroux, Canada / International Premiere

    -- "His Master's Voice" / Gyorgy Palfi, Hungary and Canada / World Premiere

    -- "History Lessons" / Marcelino Islas Hernandez, Mexico / World Premiere

    -- "Just Only Love" / Rikiya Imaizumi, Japan / World Premiere

    -- "The Poet" / Liu Hao, China / World Premiere

    -- "The River" / Emir Baigazin, Kazakhstan, Poland and Norway / Asian Premiere

    -- "Siren's Call" / Ramin Matin, Turkey / World Premiere

    -- "Tel Aviv on Fire" / Sameh Zoabi, Luxembourg, France, Israel and Belgium / Asian Premiere

    -- "Three Husbands" / Fruit Chan, Hong Kong / World Premiere

    -- "The Vice of Hope" / Edoardo De Angelis, Italy / Asian Premiere

    -- "The White Crow" / Ralph Fiennes, UK / Asian Premiere

    For information on other films that will screen at TIFF this year, visit the official site at

    (By Rei Oikawa, Staff Writer)

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