The 29th Tokyo International Film Festival, which began its roll on Tuesday, promises a canvas of ultra-modern stories focussing on the world today and its pressing problems. The director of the Competition Programme, Yoshi Yatabe, told the media the other day that one of the key subjects of this edition’s movies would be the challenges posed by refugees. There had been a dramatic increase in their numbers the world over, he averred. “These excellent films skillfully capture what is going on right now. That is the common thread of this year’s Competition... We have a line-up of great directors from different parts of the world who understand what is going on in the present era.”
Among the 16 titles in Competition are 7 Minutes (about the dilemma of Italian factory workers urged to shorten their lunch break, a management demand that contradicts work-life balance), The Bloom of Yesterday (narrating the experiences of a German Holocaust researcher), The Fixer (telling us about a trainee journalist’s tryst with a major scandal), Japanese Girls Never Die (on the disappearance of a single girl) and Paris Prestige (about a political hip hop group).
Outside Competition, we have works dealing with the still festering Arab Spring (Clash), the terror called Jihadi recruitment (Heaven Will Wait), home-grown terrorism (Nocturama) and the tsunami of illegal immigration (From Nowhere).
India is not to be left behind, and we have a young Alankrita Shrivastava with her Lipstick Under My Burkha. It takes on what can be described as a terribly disturbing issue facing the Indian woman. Shrivastava -- who was seen at the opening night party on Tuesday sporting a very chic dress that seemed to capture the spirit of her latest work -- deals with a modern woman’s quest to be herself, to enjoy a whiff of freedom. Shrivastava’s movie follows the lives of four women, each with her own dilemma. A burka-clad college girl dreams of becoming a pop singer, a beautician is desperate to flee from her monotonous small town existence, a mother of three children leads a double life, and a 55-year-old widow finds the joy of romance once again through, believe it or not, the telephone which plays Cupid.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Tokyo International Film Festival.)