Walking down the red carpet can be daunting, especially when you’re wearing stilettos. Just ask Malaysian actress Sharifah Amani. “I just hope I don’t fall wearing these heels,” she says when met at the opening of the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival on Oct 25.
The 30-year-old actress is in Tokyo for the premiere of Pigeon, one of the three films in the Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflection series which is a co-production by Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo International Film Festival.
In Pigeon, directed by Japanese auteur Isao Yukisada, Sharifah plays a caretaker to a Japanese army veteran who resides in Malaysia.
Isao doesn’t speak English, but communication wasn’t a problem for actress Sharifah.
“You would think that language would be an issue but – apart from having a translator on set – I think we, filmmakers, have a ‘language’. So, at the end of the day, Yukisada and I understood one another,” says Sharifah, who was accompanied by Pigeon co-star Sherry Alhadad on the red carpet.
Sharifah is no stranger to the Japanese entertainment scene. In 2011, she played a prostitute in Redemption Night directed by Hosai Tokato. She returns to Japan at the end of the year for the stage play Nadirah.
Indonesian heartthrob Nicholas Saputra was also in Tokyo to support his short film with a long title, Someone’s Wife In The Boat Of Someone’s Husband.
The actor says he likes going to film festivals as he enjoys the sharing sessions and dialogue with filmmakers from other countries to broaden his knowledge on filmmaking.
Nicholas’ next film, Interchange, sees him under the direction of Malaysian filmmaker Dain Said.
“The (concept of the) film is something new for South-East Asian cinemas as well as for me. So I can’t wait to see the reaction of the audience,” he says.
Although Interchange marks Nicholas’ first collaboration with a foreign director, the 32-year-old actor says the experience is no different from working with Indonesian filmmakers.
“I think it is all the same. Good filmmaking is good filmmaking, good directors are good directors (no matter which country they are from). The only difference is the location; I had to be away from Indonesia for three months for preparation as well as filming Interchange,” says Nicholas who is known for his role in the romantic flick Ada Apa Dengan Cinta.
For Singapore director Boo Junfeng, showing his acclaimed movie Apprentice at the Tokyo International Film Festival is extra special. “I wrote part of the script in Tokyo so it is nice to be back to show the film to my friends here,” Boo, 32, says.
Apprentice, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival early this year, has been receiving rave reviews and is Singapore’s entry as a contender for Best Foreign Film at next year’s Oscars.
Boo says he cast Malaysian star Wan Hanafi Su in Apprentice after watching the actor in Bunohan. “When I was in KL, I bought DVDs of films with older Malaysian actors in them. I binged watched those movies and was particularly impressed with his performance.”
This year, the annual film festival in the Japan capital saw celebrities like Oscar winner Meryl Streep, Hong Kong’s Louis Koo and Francis Ng and former member of K-pop group EXO Kris Wu gracing the event. The film festival ends on Nov 3.