France's 'Other Son,' South Korea's 'Juvenile Offender' Win Top Prizes as Tokyo Film Festival Closes
TOKYO - France had another successful year in Japan as The Other Son, won the main Sakura Grand Prix, along with best director award for Lorraine Levy, as the 25th edition of Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) drew to a close on Sunday.
“I dedicate this award to the children of Israel and Palestine,” said Levy, whose film tells the tale of a pair of boys from the two countries who are switched at birth.
“When I shoot, I don't think about anything except the film, but when I finish, I start to doubt myself. It's exhausting. Maybe this award will help me doubt less,” said Levy after being presented with the best director award by Oscar-winning helmer Yojiro Takita (Departures).
Last year's winner, The Intouchables, also from France, went on to be the highest-grossing non-English language film of all time, doing almost $400 million at the global box office, overtaking Spirited Away by Japan's Hayao Miyazaki in the process.
The special jury prize for the main competition section, and $20,000, went to South Korea's Juvenile Offender, which also won the best actor award for Seo Young-ju.
Neslihan Atagul took the best actress award for her lead role in Turkish-German production Araf – Somewhere In Between.
Turkey's Night of Silence, by Reis Çelik, took the gong for best Asian-Middle Eastern film with his look at traditional arranged marriages.
India's Ship of Theseus won the best artistic contribution for cinematographer Pankaj Kumar.
Yutaka Tsuchiya's experimental GFP Bunny won the Japanese Eyes section for local titles.
“The production budget was 4 million yen, of my own money, plus another 2 million yen on advertising, which I'm now trying to raise through crowd sourcing. I hope this section and this prize will encourage young Japanese filmmakers,” said Tsuchiya, who opened his acceptance speech by asking if the 1 million yen prize money would be transferred directly to his bank account.
The three jury members for Japanese Eyes all conceded that the overall level of the entries in the section was somewhat uninspiring, with filmmakers taking few of the risks expected from up-and-coming directors.
The Audience Award went, as it often does, to a Japanese film, Flashback Memories 3D by Tetsuaki Matsue for his innovative documentary about a didgeridoo player.
“We only finished the [3D] post-production at midnight, three days before the festival, so we really caused a lot of stress and trouble for the organizers. But the warm reception from the audience at the screenings was incredibly inspiring,” said Matsue.
Himself he Cooks, a documentary look at food through the perspective of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, won the Toyota Earth Grand Prix, and $5,000, for ecology-themed films, while UK documentary Trashed won the special jury prize for the section.
Friday night saw a screening of Koji Wakamatsu's United Red Army in honor of the veteran director, who died Oct 17 from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a taxi a few days earlier in central Tokyo, Wakamatsu, who had just returned from Busan International Film Festival, where he received the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award, was honored by three of his regular cast members who appeared at the screening.
Yasushi Shiina of the Kadokawa Group will be the next chairman of TIFF, succeeding Tatsumi 'Tom' Yoda, who has been credited with raising the international profile of the fest and its accompanying TIFFCOM market during his five-year tenure.
“I hope I have contributed something to the Japanese film industry and that the work of the festival will continue,” said Yoda, who looked back at the challenges, including the global financial crisis and last year's tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan, that the festival had faced during his chairmanship.