'Intimate Grammar' Wins as Tokyo Festival Closes

Nir Bergman (left) won TIFF's top trophy for a second time.

Nir Bergman Becomes First Two-Time Grand Prix Winner

TOKYO – The 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival came to a close Sunday with Intimate Grammar taking the $50,000 Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix -- the second time Israeli director Nir Bergman has won the main award.

Bergman’s debut feature Broken Wings also took the main prize at TIFF in 2002 – then worth 10 million yen ($124,250) – making him the only director to win it twice. 

98 year-old director, Kaneto Shindo won the special jury prize, for POST CARD, a film about the devastating effects of WWII on the citizens of a rural Japanese community. Shindo, who works from a wheelchair, has said this was his last film.

Gilles Paquet-Brenner won the Best Director Award for Sarah's Key – a true story of the wartime persecution of French Jews -- which also won the Audience Award on Saturday evening

“Thank you very much! Now I can pay my taxes!” Frenchman Paquet-Brenner told Saturday’s audience at a small ceremony that had been switched to another venue due to the typhoon sweeping past Tokyo. “I think the past is very important because we need the past to build our future. Therefore, it really means a lot to me that the Japanese audience enjoyed this film and chose it for this award.” 

Fan Bingbing took the Best Actress Award for her role in Buddha Mountain, Li Yu’s film that also won the Award for Best Artistic Contribution.

The success of China-Taiwan co-production Buddha Mountain put into perspective the overblown opening night row between groups of Chinese and Taiwanese guests over how the self-governing island should be referred to. Chinese-born Fan made her name in a Taiwan TV drama, while co-star Sylvia Chang is from Taiwan – Buddha Mountain’s producers came from both countries.

China saw further success with Wang Qianyuan winning the Best Actor Award for The Piano in a Factory.

Korean director Shin Su-won won the Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award for Passerby #3, while Koji Fukada took the Japanese Eyes, Best Picture Award with hospitalité.

At the closing ceremony TIFF chairman Tom Yoda praised the growing strength of the festival’s market TIFFCOM, as well as expressing his gratitude to competition jury president Neil Jordan.

“The four themes of TIFF are link, quality, chance and innovation; we want to keep making the festival stronger using these concepts,” said Yoda.