The 24th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off Friday [Oct 23] with its ecologically-themed green carpet welcoming international stars such as Jackie Chan, Fan Bing Bing and Milla Jovovich, who starred in the Opening Film The Three Musketeers 3D.

TIFF Chairman Tom Yoda said that it had been a great dilemma whether or not to proceed with the festival this year in the wake of the March 11 great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. In the end, their strong belief in the power of films to change the world and instill hope and dreams made them decide to carry on. The theme of the festival this year is “Believe! The power of films” and it has also launched the TIFF Arigato Project to thank people around the world for their support. The festival is also holding “TIFF in Sendai” screenings for people affected by the disaster.

Action star Jackie Chan came to TIFF in the middle of shooting to present his 100th film 1911, the Special Opening Film this year. The film was screened in the afternoon, but Chan was also at the evening ceremony.

Japan’s prime minister Yoshihiko Noda thanked Chan as well as supporters from around the world and especially in the film industry for their encouragement and support after the disaster.

“Films move people and can change their lives. I think the significance of the film festival is that we can be moved together and transcend borders. And I hope the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival will help everyone to be moved and for that to spread to the rest of the world,” said the prime minister.

Impressively, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Yukio Edano was also on hand to show the country’s support of the film industry. He noted that in terms of films being culture, it would probably fall to the minister of culture to take to the stage and not himself, but said, “It is the business of the METI to see to the outstanding quality and contents of the Japanese film culture and industry, and we need to have people purchase and watch these films. I have decided as minister to put a lot of effort into the contents industry going forward.”

Jury members including Fan Bing Bing, who won TIFF’s Best Actress award last year for her performance in Buddha Mountain, went on stage, too. Head of the jury Edward R. Pressman declared, “It great honour to be here, especially this year. Thank you, Mr. Yoda for keeping the spirit of the festival alive.”

Opening film executive producer Martin Moszkowicz introduced director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Logan Lerman who played D’Artagnan. They were all onstage as Milla Jovovich stepped up as well asking, “Am I here?” a bit disorientedly, but went on to declare her love for Japan and warmly encourage the audience to enjoy the film which she described as “the most wonderful movie that not only is fun for parents, but fun for the kids.”

“I’m just so proud of my husband for finally making a movie our daughter can go see,” said Jovovich, referring to her spouse Anderson. She also graciously introduced fellow cast member Gabriella Wilde saying, “Please, can I introduce one of the most beautiful up-and-coming actresses that you will be seeing a lot of in the next few years? The young, the talented and the gorgeous, Gabriella Wilde.”

TIFF will run Oct 22 – 30 with the parallel TIFFCOM market Oct 24 -26, both in the Roppongi Hills area.