• Festivals

35th Tokyo International Film Festival: Postcards from the East

Founded in 1985, the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is the only Japanese event accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), and one of the leading movie festivals in Asia.

The first four editions were biannual. During these years, one movie that won the Tokyo Grand Prix also took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film (now Non-English Language Film): Kolya, in 1996. Another one, The Band’s Visit (2007), was later adapted into an award-winning Broadway musical.

Other trophies bestowed at TIFF are: Best Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay, Special Jury Prize, Artistic Contribution, Audience Award, Asian Future Best Film, Japanese Cinema Splash Best Picture and Tokyo Gemstone.

This year the 35th TIFF will run from October 24 to November 2. The International Competition Jury will be presided over by Julie Taymor (USA), along with Shim Eun-kyung (South Korea), João Pedro Rodrigues (Portugal), Yanagishima Katsumi (Japan) and Marie-Christine de Navacelle (France).

The committee has received 1,695 entries from 107 countries and regions. While 10 titles have been selected for the Asian Future Best Film Award, the 15 movies competing for the Tokyo Grand Prix 2022 are (in alphabetical order):


Two detectives begin investigating after bodies are found at a construction site near Tunis, where work was halted due to a pro-democracy movement. A political film co-written and directed by Tunisian filmmaker Youssef Chebbi.


By the Window

Director Imaizumi Rikiya presents a comedic Japanese adult love story about an honest man searching for happiness. When he discovers his wife is cheating on him, he reacts with mixed emotions.

Chile ’76

Female director Manuela Martelli explores Chile under the Pinochet regime: a woman is asked by a priest to shelter a young man. She agrees, but this will change her life dramatically. A tale of quiet terror under dictatorship. Presented in Cannes 2022, winner of awards at the Athens International Film Festival (Best Director) and the Jerusalem Film Festival (Best International Debut).



Based on Takayama Makoto’s autobiographical novel, Daishi Matsunaga’s Japanese film tells a love story between two men: a fashion editor and a personal trainer, under the shadow of both of their mothers.


Glorious Ashes

Directed by Bui Thac Chuyen, based on a novel by internationally-known Nguyen Ngoc Tu, this Vietnamese film examines the relationships between three women and their partners in a southern seaside village.



Macedonian Milcho Manchevski – Golden Lion winner for Before the Rain (Academy Award nominee 1995) – returns, directing and writing an ensemble black comedy. Two couples go down the rabbit hole of unconventional erotic relationships. Underneath its exploration of the eternal search for love, this film tackles darker social issues: surrogate parenting, infidelity, a woman’s role in family and society, human trafficking, and sexual freedom.



From Kazakhstan, the story of a man who loses everything after a catastrophic data loss that led to bankruptcy. The fifth film by Emir Baigazin (Harmony Lesson) questions life’s meaning.



Spanish director Carlos Vermut depicts the love between a young male game designer and a tomboyish young woman. This director has been awarded at San Sebastián Film Festival with from Magical Girl (2014) and Quién te cantará (2018).

Mountain Woman

In the late 18th century, in Tohoku (Japan), an outcast girl lives in a village suffering from famine. She draws strength from Mt. Hayachine, where the spirits of humans ascend after passing. Director Takeshi Fukunaga won a special jury mention at the Tribeca Film Festival with Ainu Mosir (2020).


Peacock Lament

A coproduction between Sri Lanka and Italy that depicts the dark side of society. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara directed and wrote this film about a man who needs money for his sister’s heart surgery, and ends up working for a company that traffic babies from unwanted pregnancies to foreigners.


Tel Aviv/Beirut

Spanning more than 20 years, with the backdrop of the Israeli-Lebanese conflicts in 1982 and 2006, this movie portrays the journey of two women – one Lebanese, the other Israeli – separated from their families by the border, who bond during the war and embark on a road trip. Directed and written by Michale Boganim, female filmmaker known for Land of Oblivion (2011), who has previously won awards at the Berlin film festival (Odessa… Odessa!, 2005) and Cannes (Mémoires incertaines, 2002)

The Beasts

Set in a remote mountain village in Galicia (Spain), this thriller depicts the friction between a local powerbroker and a middle-aged French couple who have moved to the region to start a farming life. Recent Winner of the City of Donostia Audience Award at San Sebastián International Film Festival 2022; directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

The Fabulous Ones

An Italian documentary about a group of transgender women trying to fulfill the last wish of their late friend, who was buried in male clothing against her will. Previously shown at the Venice Film Festival 2022. Female director Roberta Torre has won four awards at Venice, and is back at the Tokyo Film Festival twenty years after Angela (2002).


This Is What I Remember

The latest film from leading Kyrgyz filmmaker Aktan Arym Kubat tells the story of a man who lost his memory while working in Russia and returns to Kyrgyzstan for the first time in 20 years. This director, screenwriter and actor – also known as Aktan Abdykalykov – has won awards at the Berlin film festival with Centaur (2017) and at Tokyo (Beshkempir, 1998).

World War III

From Iran: an actor playing Hitler in a film about World War II quits the role, and a day laborer working as an extra is chosen as a substitute. A satirical drama in a bizarre setting, by director/actor Houman Seyyedi. Winner of two Horizon awards at the Venice Film Festival 2022: Best Film, and Best Actor (Mohsen Tanabandeh).