Tokyo International Film Festival 2016 – Your Guide

The 29th Tokyo International Film Festival is nearly upon us - use our guide to get the inside track on films, locations and tickets.

Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

The Tokyo International Film Festival 2016 lands in Tokyo on October 25th, besieging the city with all things film until November 3rd. Now in its 29th year, the festival is one of Asia’s premier film festivals, showcasing films from across the world and acting as an important incubator for Asian film talent. One of Asia’s only competitive film festivals, the 2015 event saw 1,409 submissions from 86 countries around the world, all vying for the prestigious Tokyo Grand Prix. 

Films from across the genre spectrum are showcased throughout the festival’s nine days with screenings open to all. On top of this, various satellite events such as seminars and filmmaking workshops are organised to complement proceedings and make sure the event is as inclusive as possible. 

To warm you up for the festival we’ve put together a complete guide to the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. We’ve included vital location info, instructions on how to get your hands on tickets and even a preview of some of the festival’s most exciting films. 


The nerve centre of the event is Roppongi, one of Tokyo’s more glitzy neighbourhoods at any time but especially so during the festival. The Ex Theater Roppongi will act as the main venue for the larger screenings and the awards ceremony but many screenings will also be taking place at the nearby TOHO Cinemas Roppongi, a cinema within the Roppongi Hills complex. Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art will also host a smattering of film screenings throughout the festival. 

Ex Theater Roppongi

Address: 1-2-9 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 

Access: 5 minutes on foot from Roppongi Station


TOHO Cinemas Roppongi

Address: 6-10-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Access: 5 minutes on foot from Roppongi Station in the Roppongi Hills complex. 


National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo

Address: 3-1 Kitanomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ki, Tokyo

Access: 2 minutes on foot from Takebashi Station Exit 1B

Getting Tickets

Film tickets go on sale from 12.00 on Saturday, October 15th with a second batch released at 12.00 on Saturday, October 22nd. Tickets can be bought online, by phone and in person. 


To purchase tickets online simply visit the official festival website, register, select your film, select your seat and pay via credit/debit card or at a convenience store. Once purchased, you will be sent a personal QR code that will act as your ticket. If you choose to pay at a convenience store, payment must be made within three days of purchase. Only after payment will your QR code be sent. 


Phone number: 050-3786-8066. Lines will be open from 10.00 am until 20.00 pm (except October 15th: 12.00 – 20.00) between Saturday, October 15th and Saturday, October 29th. 

An operator will guide you through the film and seat selection and payment should be made at a convenience store. Upon payment, you will be given a receipt that should be swapped for a QR code at the official festival ticket centre. 

In Person: 

The official festival ticket centre is open from Saturday, October 25th until Thursday, November 3rd from which film tickets can be purchased from the sales counter at any time between 12.00 and 18.00. 

Address: 2F O-Yane Plaza, 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo

Access: In Roppongi Hills, find the ticket centre in the O-Yane Plaza at the intersection between the Art Walk and the West Walk on the second floor.


Ticket prices vary, for full details check out the price listings on the official site

Festival Highlights

The Tokyo International Film Festival’s film programme is varied and challenging, featuring a whole host of world, Asian and Japanese premieres as well as a welcome selection of re-releases and special screenings. Films are mostly shown with English and Japanese subtitles although checking when purchasing the tickets is always advised. Full listings can be found over on the  official festival site but stick with us to find out our festival highlights: 

Sami Blood (Asian Premiere)

The debut film from Swedish filmmaker Amanda Kernall, Sami Blood is the first ever film to document the plight of the Sami, a people indigenous to northern Scandinavia. The film, part social history, part bildungsroman, follows a young Sami girl exposed to the racism of 1930s Sweden who ultimately must make an impossible choice. What could have been an overly syrupy and sentimental affair is realised with excellent vision and confidence by the fledgeling filmmaker. 

Dates and Times: TOHO Cinemas Roppongi – 10/26 14.50  / 10/30 21.05 (inc. Q&A with the director and actor Lene Cecilia Sparrok)



RAGE is the latest film from Lee Sang-Il, one of Japan’s top working filmmakers. The film, based on a novel by Shuichi Yoshida, centres on three men, each under suspicion of having committed a brutal murder. As suspicion builds, relationships fracture and we are left to ponder whether we are truly able to know anyone. A tale of murder, betrayal and trust, this is no simple whodunit. Sharp storytelling and gorgeous cinematography combine to create one of the festival’s must-see flicks. 

Dates and Times: TOHO Cinemas Roppongi – 10/30 20.25 


Japanese Girls Never Die 

A series of spray-painted missing posters begin to appear on the walls of a suburban Japanese town, at the same time a girl-gang appears and begins to viciously attack random men. Both happenings are hot topics but are perhaps more interconnected than it may at first seem. A consistently suspenseful and off-beat film, Japanese Girls Never Die focusses on the lives and problems of Japanese women of a variety of ages and backgrounds, a welcome and fresh approach in an all too often male-dominated society. 

Dates and Times: TOHO Cinemas Roppongi – 10/30 13.35 / 11/01 14.05


Matewan (1987)

John Sayles’s masterful dramatisation of the 1920 Battle of Matewan makes its way onto Tokyo screens as part of the festival’s special screenings of film treasures from the UCLA archive. Perhaps more important as a marker of history than a work of cinema, Matewan nevertheless delivers some fine performances and treats viewers to some stunning cinematography. 

Dates and Times: The National Museum of Modern Art – 10/28 15.00 (tickets only available at the venue on the day of screening)


A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

A singular masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema, Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day comes to the festival in its new digitally remastered form. One of modern cinema’s most lauded works, this is a film of novelistic scope, tender intimacy and burning intensity. Set in late 60s Taipei, A Brighter Summer Day is based on the true story of a crime that rocked the nation and the journey of a boy from juvenile innocence to adolescent delinquency. A rare chance to see it on the big screen, this is one not to be missed. 

Dates and Times: TOHO Cinemas Roppongi 11/03 11.20 

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Jack Heslehurst

Jack Heslehurst

Tokyo-based writer and editor, originally from the UK, with a special interest in politics, history and travel.

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