Tokyo fest listens to 'Band'


TOKYO -- Eran Kolirin lifted the Sakura Grand Prix on the closing day of the Tokyo International Film Festival for his debut feature film "The Band's Visit."

The joint Israeli-French movie has attracted controversy in other parts of the world, with the Cairo International Film Festival and Abu Dhabi's Middle East International Film Festival both refusing to show the film. But the winner of a special prize in Cannes also earned Kolirin $50,000 as well as the main prize at Tokyo's 20th annual film festival.

"Band's Visit," which triumphed over 14 other titles in the competition, revolves around an Egyptian police band that gets lost on a tour of Israel and how they interact with the locals who take them in.

The award for best director went to Peter Howitt, whose "Dangerous Parking" premiered at the festival. The Special Jury Prize went to Chinese director Li Jixian for "The Western Trunk Line."

Shefali Shah took the award for best actress for her performance in "Gandhi, My Father," while Damian Ul took the actor's prize for his role in "Tricks."

Another director making his feature film debut, Germany's Armin Voelckers, won the audience award for "Leroy," a story of a black teenager in Germany whose girlfriend's brothers are neo-Nazis.

"United Red Army," by Koji Wakamatsu, took the Japanese Eyes Best Picture Award, while "Singapore Dreaming," the joint directorial project between Yen Yen Woo and Colin Goh, won the Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award.

A total of 326 films were screened during the festival, with organizers estimating that nearly 69,000 people attended screenings.