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Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s multi-layered thriller The Beasts nearly achieved a clean sweep of the Tokyo International Film Festival’s major awards categories Wednesday night in the Japanese capital. During a ceremony held in the city’s glitzy Ginza district, The Beasts came away with the Tokyo Grand Prix, the festival’s top honor, as well as best director honors for Sorogoyen and best actor for his star Denis Menochet.
A brooding, psychological thriller set in rural Spain, The Beasts tells the story of a cosmopolitan French couple, Antoine and Olga (Menochet and actress Marina Foïs), who settle in a small village hoping to connect with nature. Instead, their presence soon arouses hostility — and eventually, downright violence — from some of the locals. The film has been praised for its feral, even savage, portrayal of the hardscrabble realities of the majestic Galician countryside.
Tokyo’s 2022 festival jury was headed by acclaimed film and theater director Julie Taymor (best known for her stage adaptation of The Lion King and her biopic Frida), and rounded out with Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues (To Die Like A Man), Korean actor Shin Eun-kyung (Train to Busan), Japanese cinematographer Yanagijima Katsumi (Battle Royale) and French film historian and documentarian Marie-Christine de Navacelle.
Tokyo’s second-place special jury prize was awarded to the Iranian absurdist drama, World War III, which was co-written, directed, produced and edited by Houman Seyyedi. Selected by Iran as its entry for the best international feature film race at the 95th Academy Awards, the film stars Mohsen Tanabandeh as a day laborer who, after losing his wife in a horrible catastrophe, finds himself surprisingly cast to play Adolf Hitler in an Iranian-shot, German-set World War II film.
The award for best actress went to Aline Kuppenheim for her powerful performance in Chilean actor-turned-director Manuela Martelli’s period character study 1976.
Tokyo’s prize for best artistic contribution, usually awarded to an individual, was instead handed to the film Peacock Lament, Sri Lankan director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s moving human trafficking drama. The festival’s audience prize, picked by popular vote among public filmgoers, went to Japanese filmmaker Rikiya Imaizumi’s offbeat drama By the Window, which follows a man who discovers his wife is cheating on him, which sparks surprisingly mixed feelings.
In the Tokyo festival’s side programs, the winning film from the Asian Future section — a competitive strand that features up-and-coming Asian directors who have directed no more than three feature-length films — was Iran’s Butterflies Live Only One Day by Mohammadreza Vatandoust.
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