The Tokyo International Film Festival became the first major film festival in Japan. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the biggest film festivals in the Asian region along with the Shanghai International Film Festival which was founded two years later.
The festival takes place every October and lasts nine days, during which visitors can watch dozens of films in different genres. The program is divided into several sections. Along with film screenings, TIFF’s program includes meetings with actors and filmmakers, seminars and symposiums for film students, industry professionals and entrepreneurs, workshops and masterclasses. The festival also hosts the TIFFCOM film market.
As we’ve already mentioned, TIFF is a competitive film festival. Among the films presented in the festival’s international competition, the jury chooses the best film which is awarded the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix. The awards handed out during the festival have changed over the years, but the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix has remained its main award since the beginning. The grand prix was not awarded in 1995, and in 1997 is was handed to two films that had equal number of votes, Ademir Kenovic’s The Perfect Circle (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Caroline Link’s Beyond Silence (Germany).
The festival’s jury comprises outstanding filmmakers, film critics and other industry professionals from across the globe. For example, the 2015 jury consisted of the following filmmakers and producers: Bryan Singer (USA), Tran Anh Hung (France), Bent Hamer (Norway), Susanne Bier (Denmark) and Kazuki Omori (Japan).
Along with the gran prix, other awards are given during the festival. They include the Best Director Award, Best Actor Award, Best Actress Award, Special Jury Prize, Best Artistic Contribution Award, Audience Award, Asian Future Best Film Award, Japanese Cinema Splash Best Picture Award, etc. The latter two awards are awarded by special juries.