The 28th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival, which began yesterday, is the biggest event on the Japanese film calendar. And like any such event, TIFF has had its share of critics over the years.

One frequently heard complaint has been about the lack of a festival head with a clear vision and the clout to implement it over a long period. TIFF director generals are typically drawn from the ranks of film company executives and serve an average of three years before returning to their corporate home base. Any impact they make in their brief tenure tends to be fleeting.

Another target for critics is the large number of upcoming domestic and foreign commercial releases, which the local entertainment media covers to the exclusion of much else on the lineup. While adding a needed glamor, these films can make the festival feel like a giant industry promo extravaganza.