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The night the stars come out in Roppongi

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By Kelly Wetherille

Every year Roppongi Hills plays host to a number of film premieres and special events, but perhaps none brings out more stars than the annual Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF). This year marked the event's 31st installment, which hosted screenings of films from around the world.

For the first time ever, I attended the red carpet event of TIFF, held outdoors at the Roppongi Hills Arena. It was exciting to see all of the different actors, directors and producers being introduced to the crowd, before taking their turn to walk the red carpet. There were special guests from all over the world, including many from across Asia. The biggest name to attend this year's festivities was Ralph Fiennes, who was at the event to introduce the film The White Crow, which he both directed and acted in.

This year's edition of TIFF had a crowdfunding element that enabled members of the public to access to the very exclusive red carpet event. By donating to help support the festival, some people were able to get tickets to stand to the side of the carpet, enabling them to see and speak with the stars as they walked by. The excitement was palpable, and from where I was seated near the stage I could often hear the energetic shouts coming from the crowd.

People are also able to purchase tickets to many of the screenings that are a part of TIFF. Often held at Roppongi Hills, these screenings give viewers a chance to watch films that may not otherwise be released in Japan, or ones that won't have a full run in theaters for several weeks or even months. This year one such film was Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "A Star is Born." The tickets to the screening sold out very quickly, but those who managed to snag one were surely in for a treat. Next year, to enjoy TIFF even more, I must be quicker to book tickets to some of the screenings!

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