Tokyo film festival packs superhero punch

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Tokyo (AFP) - The Tokyo International Film Festival opened on Thursday with cult superhero "Ultraman" swooshing down the red carpet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The 27th edition of TIFF, which runs until October 31, focuses heavily on Japanese animated movies and will showcase the works of director Hideaki Anno, widely considered the natural successor to Oscar-winning anime master Hayao Miyazaki.

Among the movies to be screened are the world premiere of the animated superhero comedy "Big Hero 6", about the crime-fighting adventures of a Japanese boy and his robot, which Disney hopes will be a Christmas hit.

"Tokyo was a huge inspiration for this film," said John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

"Tokyo is a special place and we hope Japan loves this movie because we poured our heart and soul into it."

Fans squealed as Japanese boy-band Arashi pouted and posed in tuxedos before crime-busting hero Ultraman and Japanese children's characters Doraemon and Hello Kitty came bouncing along the red carpet, adding some humour on a chilly evening in Tokyo.

Miyazaki, whose 2001 movie "Spirited Away" became the first anime film to win an Academy Award, has acknowledged Anno as his protege after saying last year's "The Wind Rises" would be his last feature-length film.

TIFF will show 53 of Anno's films -- around a quarter of the entire festival's content and including those from his smash sci-fi series "Evangelion" -- over the course of the week.

Guests include gothic filmmaker Tim Burton while "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn is among a panel of six judges for the Tokyo Grand Prix, which offers a prize of $50,000 for best film.

The jury will choose from among 15 films, all but one from overseas, selected from more than 1,300 entries from 92 countries.

Other programmes include 3D short movies directed by Shigeru Miyamoto, senior managing director of game company Nintendo and renowned game producer for "Super Mario Bros" and "Donkey Kong".

Side events will also include the screening of Chinese and South Korean films, as well as those about Spain and Latin America.

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