Just like last year, a large group of around 300 people were granted authorization this year to greet the French artistic delegation, with permission to take photographs and request autographs as the French artists arrived on the red carpet that was spread out at the entrance to the monumental Minato Mirai Concert Hall in Yokohama, which has been transformed into a movie theater for the event.
Led by UniFrance president Serge Toubiana, the delegation was composed of Thaïs Alessandrin, Lisa Azuelos, Antonin Baudry, Caroline Bonmarchand, Zabou Breitman, François Civil, Judith Davis, Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec, Pierre Guyard, Mikhaël Hers, Nadav Lapid, Claude Lelouch, Gilles Lellouche, Sébastien Marnier, Michel Ocelot, Louis-Julien Petit, Hugo Sélignac, and Nils Tavernier, all in attendance prior to the arrival of this year's festival patron Claude Lelouch, who is scheduled to arrive the next day. The delegation members were accompanied by Miki Nakatani, the Japanese actress who is the designated "muse" of the 2019 event.
Speaking on stage one after the other, Serge Toubiana was followed by the mayor of Yokohama, Fumiko Hayashi; Miki Nakatani; the French Ambassador to Japan, Laurent Pic; and Hitoshi Kawaguchi, vice-president of Nissan, who is the official partner of the festival. A video message was shown from Alain Delon, who was unable to attend the event. Immediately after the delegation's photo session, a superb tribute was paid to Michel Legrand by the Keio Light Music Society orchestra, which presented a big band rendition of three works by the composer, who enjoys star status in Japan.
The screening of the opening film, Sink or Swim, was followed by a Q&A session with Gilles Lellouche, with audiences extremely curious to find out which of the actors knew how to swim before the film shoot!
The evening concluded on the legendary Ocean Princess, the same ship that welcomed the crew members of films presented at the festival when it first began twenty-seven years ago.
Earlier in the day, the second and last day of the French Film Market held in Tokyo came to an end. The market was attended by around forty Japanese distribution companies, who met with the thirty participating French sales companies and were introduced to their film slates. The 500 meetings organized during the two-day event will determine the French films to be programmed on Japanese screens in the year to come. In 2018, forty-nine French films were released in Japan.
Take a look at photos of the festival opening in the portfolio below!