Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, the new director-general of the Tokyo International Film Festival (Nov 1-9), has named Chinese actress Gong Li (Breaking The Silence, The Emperor And The Assassin, Temptress Moon) as the jury chairman for the festival's 16th edition.
Kadokawa has also unveiled Yoshimitsu Morita's new drama Asura No Gotoku (Like Asura) as the festival's opening film. The closing film will be Pixar's Finding Nemo.
Based on a popular NHK series, Asura No Gotoku stars Kaoru Yachigusa and Hitomi Kuroki in a family drama about four adult daughters who share the knowledge that their elderly father is having an affair -- but keep the news from their mother. It opens in Japan in November.
The festival has also confirmed 13 special screenings including Jim Sheridan's In America, Jane Campion's In the Cut, He Ping's Warriors Of Heaven And Earth, Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin!, Sinbad : Legend Of The Seven Seas directed by Patrick Gilmore, Martin Campbell's Beyond Borders, Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal, and two Japanese titles: romantic love story Last Love, First Love directed by Hisashi Toma and a mobile phone horror You've Got A Call directed by Takashi Miike.
Ensemble pieces 10 Minutes Older:The Trumpet and 10 Minutes Older:The Cello, whose directors include Bernardo Bertolucci Mike Figgis Jean-Luc Godard Aki Kaurismaki and Spike Lee will also get special screenings.
Last year, the TIFF brought Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise to the festival for the opening day screening of Minority Report. However, the festival has come under criticism for choosing films based not so much on quality, but according to their place on sponsoring distributors' line-ups.
Last year, the festival screened The Ring, The Pianist, John Q, K-19: The Widowmaker. They were selections that pleased distributors such as Asmik Ace, Amuse, Gaga Communications and Nippon Herald but hardly boosted the festival's claim to be the Asian equivalent of Venice or Berlin.
In an attempt to regain the ground it has lost to rival Asian festivals such as South Korea's Pusan and Hong Kong's Filmex, the TIFF has recently introduced a number of changes to its programme in attempt to increase its international appeal - including the opening screening of Ahura No Gotoku.
This year, the festival will screen total of 40 to 45 titles in three major sections. 14 films will compete for the $80,000 Tokyo Grand Prix and the $20,000 Special Jury Prize. About 15 Asian films will be screened in the Winds of Asia section which aims to promote Asian films in Japan.