The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is launching a new section and award around the theme of ecology as part of a push to reposition the festival as a more international event.

Tentatively titled Natural TIFF, the section will screen 20 new and old films that focus on the co-existence of man and nature. This year's TIFF (Oct 18-26) will also feature a 'Green Carpet' and present an 'Earth Award' to an environmentally themed film.

The section was introduced yesterday by TIFF's new chairman, Tom Yoda, a familiar face in the international market as he is also chairman of Gaga Communications. Yoda aims to raise TIFF's global profile and transform it into a platform for buying Asian content and selling foreign films into Japan.

'Towards that end, we look forward to enhancing our collaboration with government agencies, film festivals and markets around the world, and to growing together as friendly competitors,' Yoda said.

Established in 1985, TIFF has lost profile in recent years to younger Asian fests such as Pusan.

However, it launched a film market, TIFFCOM, five years ago and is now being more proactive in attracting overseas guests. This year, TIFFCOM will be held Oct 22-24, while projects market, Tokyo Project Gathering, will be held Oct 21-24.

Ecology is currently a hot issue in Japan. BBC Worldwide's Earth became one of the highest grossing documentaries ever released in the territory when it grossed $23m last year.