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Tokyo Fest Draws a Princess, Pixar

27th Tokyo International Film Festival
By Liza Foreman
TOKYO - The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival got underway on Thursday in the presence of the Japanese Princess Hisako Takamado and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Not forgetting the country's youth culture, boy band Arashi posed on stage with the Prime Minister who spoke about Japan and the festival being the gateway to the region.
"The Gates of Asia section is a pathway for upcoming filmmakers," he said. "And Tokyo is the gateway to Asia."
He added: "In Japan we have one more strength which is animation and we are very proud of our directors in animation."
The festival opened tonight with the animation film "Big Hero 6," a Japanese themed animation title produced by Pixar, an American company.
"Big Hero 6" begins with a sweeping sci-fi view of Tokyo. "The film really is a love letter to Japan and we are so grateful to be here," said Pixar/ Walt Disney Animation Head, John Lasseter. "So much of my love for Japan has been put into this film."
In the audience were  some of the high profile jury members, including the director of the Toronto Film Festival Cameron Bailey and a representative from the Cannes Film Festival.
Casting director Debbie Williams ("Bond" series ) and director Robert Luketic, both on the jury, were also on hand.
The world premiere of  "Big Hero 6" and the caliber of this year's jury shows the festival becoming more international. And "Guardians of the Galaxy" director and writer James Gunn serves as jury president this year.
"I am unbelievably excited to be here today. I have three heroes and they are all Japanese," said Gunn, mentioning Ultraman and the film director Kurosawa. "Japan is part of the filmmaking family of the world."
Indeed. Despite its international ambitions, Tokyo is also a celebration of local filmmakers, like Takeshi Kitano who will be speaking to journalists in Tokyo, and Japanese films like "Kyoto Elegy."
Providing something for foodies,  as well as sci-fi fans that will no doubt flock to "Big Hero 6," the festival will include a culinary cinema section featuring top chefs. 
This coincides with a push by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to name Tokyo as the ultimate foodie city. The Japanese capital has more Michelin stars than any other city, it said.

About Liza Foreman