The Tokyo International Film Festival has set boxing picture “Underdog,” directed by Take Masaharu, as the opening title for its 33rd edition. The festival will run Oct. 31 to Nov. 9, when it will close with Hajime Hashimoto’s “Hokusai.”
The festival plans to hold physical screenings in Tokyo theaters, but few overseas guests or filmmakers will be able to participate in person. The TIFFCOM rights market will be held entirely online, it was announced in recent days.
“Underdog” stars Mirai Moriyama, Takumi Kitamura and Ryo Katsuji, and is Take’s first boxing-themed film in six years, since “100 Yen Love.” It depicts the lives of three desperate fighters as they square off in the ring, to attempt their comebacks.
“Hokusai” is the story of legendary Japanese artist Hokusai Katsushika and his unique talent, known as the “Secret of Three Waves.” The artist is best known for his “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” and for supposedly having inspired Van Gogh and Monet. The film, which stars Yuya Yagira as young Hokusai and Min Tanaka as the artist in later years, marks the 260th anniversary of Hokusai’s birth.
“(‘Underdog’) was filmed in January and February 2020, capturing scenes we have since lost due to COVID-19. Boxers, lonely people in the ring, cannot continue to beat and be beaten without the audiences’ cheers. The audience creates the match and continues to talk about it. Life is similar to this, and I think filmmaking is, too. The audience completes the film in the end. I’m grateful that audiences can watch “Underdog” at the opening of the Tokyo festival in 2020,” said Take in a prepared statement.
The festival’s full lineup will be announced on Sept. 29.