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Tokyo shuns virtual festival

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In a year that most international film festivals around the world have been forced to cancel, postpone or hold virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) have announced that they are going ahead with a physical edition of the festival.

The TIFF, which is in its 33rd edition, is scheduled to hold from October 31 through November 9, 2020. The organisers said in a statement that rather than postpone or shrink the festival, TIFF plans to carry out physical screenings in Tokyo theatres, as well as to host symposia and international guest talks online.

The statement explained that by staying physical, TIFF would enable audiences to re-experience the joy of watching films on the big screen and strengthen international solidarity in the global film industry, while also reexamining understanding of the visual culture after COVID-19.

Although the organisers observed that holding a film festival in the same way as in previous years would be very challenging due to such difficulties as restrictions on international travel and the necessity of taking thorough measures against infection, they have created a special section for the 33rd TIFF including the Tokyo Premiere in 2020 and Tokyo FILMeX that goes beyond the boundaries of the usual competitive sections.

“This year’s TIFF will also see us deepening our ties with Tokyo FILMeX, which is traditionally held also in late autumn. We will be forming a relationship similar to that between the Cannes Film Festival and Directors’ Fortnight, with the latter held independently within the framework of the Cannes Film Festival. We expect this synergy between our two festivals to also strengthen solidarity in the film industry,’’ the statement said, even as the organisers noted that if the condition of holding the 33rd TIFF cannot be met as the pandemic situation continues to transition in the future, they would pursue various options, including postponement or cancelation.


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