The Tokyo International Film Festival has always struggled to distinguish itself from other big film events. It doesn’t have the cultural cachet of Venice, Cannes or Toronto, and even within Asia it falls behind Busan and Hong Kong in terms of the caliber of works it sometimes attracts. But it always manages to bring major stars, if only because Tokyo is a world capital deserving of attention.

The 30th edition, however, was distinguished by something it’s always strived for — namely, social relevance. For years, the usual red carpet has been supplanted by a “green carpet” that highlighted an environmental position. This year that approach was extended to the program itself. Films in both the Competition and the various Asia-related sections highlighted potent social issues, which the festival also recognized with its awards.

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