Ottawa prize prescribed for 'Doctor'


TOKYO -- Koji Yamamura won the grand prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for "Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor," a first for a Japanese director.

The 21-minute feature, based on the 1919 Kafka short story "Ein Landarzt," won the Nelvana Grand Prize for best independent short animation Sunday at the biggest festival of its kind in North America. More than 2,000 animated shorts were entered for this year's festival.

The story, known as "Kafka Inaka Isha" in Japanese, centers on a hapless country doctor who is asked to make a late-night call on a young patient. He finds himself taken to the patient's bedside and, in a confused state, fails to spot a fatal wound.

Yamamura, who also had the animated short "Man and Whale" in competition at Ottawa, won in the festival's children's category in 2000.

"Atama-Yama" (Mt. Head), his best-known work, won major prizes at three animated festivals in 2003 when it also received an Academy Award nomination for best animated short.

"Country Doctor" is set to screen at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 12 and 13, according to Japanese distributor Shochiku.