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Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007

ENTERTAINMENT SPOTLIGHT

FROM SIN CITY TO CINECITY?

Festival swaps mobsters for something 'safe'


Special to The Japan Times

In days past, a film festival held within rough-and-tumble Kabukicho might be assumed to feature a sampling of the work from gangster-flick director Seijun Suzuki ("Tokyo Drifter," "Branded to Kill"), or perhaps "Yojimbo," the Akira Kurosawa classic where a samurai arrives in a village run by two groups of gambling mobsters.

News photo
Ami Suzuki (left) and Nao Matsushita star in "X-Cross." © 2007 "X-CROSS" FILM PARTNERS

But with its smiley tag line, "Let's go to Kabukicho!" the Tokyo International CineCity Film Festival, which begins Nov. 23 at the Shinjuku Milano 1 theater, will be focusing on giving a more positive image of the district.

"This is part of a renaissance taking place in Kabukicho," says Yasushi Yamashita, the festival's chief, who is expecting 7,000 patrons to attend the three-day event. "It will help us send a safe, comfortable impression nationwide."

Now in its second year, the six-film festival will screen the Japan premiere of "Day Watch," a Russian thriller based on the novels of Sergei Luyanenko. Its other major film is "X-Cross," a drama from the Toei studio that stars one-time pop princess Ami Suzuki.

Given the dark cloud that still hangs over the district, getting sponsorship was a challenge, says Yamashita, who was able to attract the likes of Mitsubishi Motors and Tokyo Gas.

A "family cinema jazz concert" featuring saxophonist Saori Yano will be a part of the festivities on Sunday (11:30 a.m.) at Shinjuku Milano 1. In subsequent years, the event hopes to expand to include comedy and theater events.

Tokyo International CineCity Film Festival takes place Nov. 23-25. Information can be found online at ticf.info (Japanese only). Movie screenings are ¥1,300 and ¥1,500.


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