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Tokyo int'l film festival kicks off but scaled-down amid pandemic

Tokyo int'l film festival kicks off but scaled-down amid pandemic

The 33rd Tokyo International Film Festival kicked off in the capital Saturday, with a scaled-down red carpet procession as organizers found creative ways to celebrate filmmaking through online events despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A total of 138 works, selected from 1,356 titles from 107 countries and regions, will be shown in Tokyo during the festival's run through Nov. 9. Among those appearing on the red carpet, which was held behind closed doors at Tokyo International Forum, was seasoned Japanese filmmaker Koji Fukada -- the featured director in this year's Japan Now section who won the Jury Prize at the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in France for "Harmonium" in 2016. Actor Koji Yakusho at the opening ceremony of the 33rd Tokyo International Film Festival on Oct. 31, 2020. (Kyodo)   Malaysian directors Edmund Yeo and Lim Kah Wai, who were two of the few international guests present, both completed two weeks of quarantine to re-enter Japan and attend the festival. "In the current COVID-19 situation, we don't know what the future will bring. We may have to coexist with the virus, and therefore this film festival is a lesson for us," said veteran actor Koji Yakusho, this year's festival ambassador. Acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan and Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, were among the international stars who provided video messages for the opening ceremony. "The fact that in these challenging times you've found a way to honor and enjoy watching films on the big screen is a source of inspiration for myself and other filmmakers around the world," said Nolan. Unlike previous years, there will be no International Competition due to difficulties in having overseas jury members and guests attend. Organizers have instead launched a brand new Tokyo Premiere 2020 section showcasing 32 films from around the globe, of which 25 will be world premieres. No other awards will be presented this year except for one given to a film selected by the audience from the section. Adjusting for the pandemic, there will also be a generous offering of online events to be held for the first time this year alongside physical screenings. Among these is an Asia Lounge Conversation Series co-presented by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, an initiative proposed by world-renowned director Hirokazu Koreeda, who won the prestigious Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes for "Shoplifters" in 2018. This year's festival began with the world premiere of the film "Underdog," a grueling tale of three boxers by Masaharu Take. "We were filming this movie in January and February this year, and in the end it has become a very challenging year," said Take. "To have the film released in 2020 is a huge honor for us." The festival will close with the film "Hokusai," a movie depicting the life of famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, with 2020 marking the 260th anniversary of his birth.

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Coronavirus

Halloween revelry in Japan goes online due to pandemic

Halloween revelry in Japan goes online due to pandemic

Halloween celebrations in Tokyo's Shibuya district and elsewhere in Japan were subdued Saturday night with smaller crowds than in past years, as local authorities called for people to stay home and watch online events to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Viewers watched the Halloween cosplay festival in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, live via the Zoom video communications service. At the famous scramble crossing near JR Shibuya Station, special police officers, dubbed "DJ police," were mobilized to encourage people to leave, as some revelers showed off their costumes, including characters from the popular anime "Demon Slayer." One feature of the Ikebukuro festival, the seventh of its kind this year, involves popular cosplayers giving performances via Zoom, with their images projected on a large screen on a building near JR Ikebukuro Station. The city of Kawasaki, near Tokyo, which saw around 120,000 people come to its Halloween parade last year, streamed its costume contest on YouTube and other social media, after calling for people to submit 30 second videos of their costumed-selves. In Osaka, people wearing costumes of ghosts and anime characters gathered in the western Japan city's Dotombori commercial district. Most, however, also wore medical-type masks as a precaution against the coronavirus. People walk in Tokyo's Shibuya area on Halloween on Oct. 31, 2020. Amid unabated coronavirus infections, the mayor of Shibuya Ward earlier told people to refrain from going there for Halloween events for which it has become known in recent years. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo Shibuya (Kyodo) Shibuya (Kyodo) Osaka's Minami commercial district (Kyodo) Shibuya (Kyodo) Osaka's Minami (Kyodo) Shibuya (Kyodo)  

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