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Triple Oscar Winner Meryl Streep Kicks off Tokyo International Film Festival

Tin Htet Paing The Irrawaddy

TOKYO, Japan — American actress and triple Oscar winner Meryl Streep kicked off the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), one of Asia’s major competitive film festivals and Japan’s biggest, along with Asian cinema stars on Tuesday.

The star of the TIFF’s opening film, Florence Foster Jenkins—a comedy-drama about “the world’s worst opera singer” set in America between the 1920s and 40s—was the most prominent face at the event.

Asian film celebrities included Yesung, a member of Korean pop music outfit Super Junior, promoting his Japanese film debut My Korean Teacher in Japan, and Berlinale Silver Bear award-winning actress Haru Kuroki. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also attended the festival’s opening ceremony.

The festival runs till Nov. 3, showcasing some 200 films. Of these, 16 will compete for the festival’s top prize, the Tokyo Grand Prix. This year’s event seeks to celebrate the world’s geographical and social diversity, as captured in international cinema. Among the modern social issues spotlighted in this year’s film crop are gender discrimination in India, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

However, critics said that—the appearance of Meryl Streep notwithstanding—there is a conspicuous lack of international star power relative to previous years.

While no Burmese films are being showing at this year’s TIFF, the festival is no stranger to Burma. The Burmese Harp—a Japanese color remake of the 1956 film of the same name, about a Japanese soldier in Burma during World Word II—was the closing film at the festival’s first edition in 1985.

In 2014, the TIFF screened Burmese director Maung Wunna’s 1972 black-and-white Tender are the Feet—a love story about a Burmese drummer and a dancer in a traditional Burmese traveling theatre group—in its World Focus section.