Osaka showcases European cinema

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The one month-long Osaka European Film Festival opened in Japan's second largest city on Saturday, bringing works by directors and actors to an audience that rarely has a chance to see such movies.

The annual festival was started in 1994 and is designed to promote cultural exchanges between Europe and Japan, according to spokesman Sebastian Bonidan.

"The people who are coming from Europe to attend this year's event are famous in their own countries, but are little-known in the rest of the world," he told Relaxnews.

Among the representatives of European movie culture attending this festival will be Jan Decleir, the prolific Belgian movie and television actor, who appeared in the Academy Award-winning movies Karakter (Character) and Antonia.

Before the final screening on December 3, the festival will have screened more than 70 films in venues around Osaka, many of which will be making their Japanese premieres.

The Hungarian title Chameleon will be screened for the fist time in Japan, along with As God Commands, from Italy, and the Swiss movie Tandoori Love.

Perhaps the best known title to make its debut in Osaka will be Jan Decleir's film Loft, which has been a huge box office hit at home, where one in 10 of the Belgian public has reportedly seen it. The story revolves around five married men who share a secret loft when a woman is murdered and they try to solve the crime.

Part of the festival is also being dedicated to the links between Osaka and the German port of Hamburg, which are celebrating 20 years of sister-city ties this year. The Dutch Film Special will similarly showcase the world of Dutch cinema since 1980, while a selection of animated films made by Lithuanian children will also be shown.

Part of the event will also be a photographic exhibition in remembrance of the film score composer Maurice Jarre, who served as commissioner of last year's festival but died in March of this year.