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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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First encounter with Tokyo fest: 49 stairs up Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills

At the midpoint of its nine day run the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is running smoothly and on schedule in its futuristic setting, much like the local trains.
The festival is centered in an ultra modern shopping and tourist complex known as "Roppongi Hills" but there are no hills in evidence, just an incredible array of glass towers, upscale restaurants and classy boutiques in a multi-tiered maze of shopping delights.
(Roppongo "Bills" might be more like it, as "Bil" is Japanese slang for tall buil-dings!) The actual festival and film market offices are located in a sleek 49 story skyscraper a few steps away from which is a state-of-the-art multiplex cinema dome operated by the Toho film organization where most festival films are screened.
Signs and film posters all around indicate that one is indeed, for the time being at least, in film festival country, however, Roppongi ("Six Trees") is such a snazzy buzzing part of Tokyo that many people in the area are not even aware that they are practically in the midst of one of the world's largest film festivals -- large at least in terms of internal gloss, sheer number of films on view, presence of prestigious personalities, and well-funded razzamataz.

Entering the festival tower from an elevated walkway one is greeted in the lobby by a TIFF information booth populated by fetching young ladies some of whom speak some English. Say "Film Festival" and you are directed to the non-stop express elevator to the 49th floor.
An amazing ascent accomplished in seconds with no feeling of taking Gs or ear stuffiness -- almost like blasting off into space, but in perfect comfort -- talk about cutting edge Japanese technology! Upon emerging at floor 49 one finds oneself not actually at the Film Festival offices but rather at the Film Market --where sellers and buyers of films assemble to play their wares.
This looks very much like other major international film market such as the film market at Berlin, but this is not where you need to go to pick up your press pass. A market badge is however offered you for a cash outlay of a mere Yen15,000 (about USD $200) which is not exactly what we came for,
so back down we go.

There are more festival offices on floor forty, but you pick up your badge at a somewhat hidden desk on level three up a back stairway, where a small pressroom with computer access is also located. Nice to know! Then back out the main entrance on level one and slightly around the bend to the Movie Cafe -- which is, in some ways, the nerve center, meeting place, and coffee oasis for foreign visitors. The Movie Cafe is a kind of festival public service where various festival events and film clips are flashed on a large TV screen visible even from outside on the public walkway. Within the cafe there is a conference area where festival personalities hold forth at irregular intervals and seating is on a first come first served basis. More formal press conferences are held elsewhere for accredited press people, but the Movie Cafe sessions do provide the general public with a slightly insider view of the festival free of charge or for the price of a cup of Joe. In the evening the cafe transforms into a venue for festival parties given by various festival connected organizations -- directors guild, etc. to which a press badge can gain admittance. Such parties are an essential key for personal networking -- meeting and hooking up with other professionals in the film festival business, as well as just having a little fun between the racing around to get to the screenings. Many screenings (as at other festivals) are also attended by the filmmakers and actors, who then hold Q&A sessions for the benefit of ticketed viewers after the show.

All in all TIFF is very well organized and, except for a few screenings in a couple of outlying cinemas, (notably, the TOHO Chanter (Shantay!), way down in the Hibiya district near the Imperial Hotel) --completely concentrated in the Roppongi Hills complex area, which makes navigating the festival a lot easier for foreigners unfamiliar with the exceedingly challenging geography of the city.
Next report we'll be talking about some of the films on tap.




Alex Deleon from La tour Infernale


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Chatelin Bruno
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