Tokyo Film Festival: Turkey's 'Grain' Wins Top Award

GRAIN - Still 1 -Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of Kaplan Film Productions

Al Gore joined jury president Tommy Lee Jones onstage before the screening of 'An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,' the closing film of the festival.

Turkey's Grain won the Tokyo International Film Festival's grand prix and $50,000 for Semih Kaplanoglu, who directed, wrote and produced the monochromatic dystopian sci-fi tale of a man's quest to find grain in order to save humankind.

"We were impressed by this film's presentation of myth and reality," explained jury president Tommy Lee Jones, who said the decision to give the award to Grain was unanimous.

"Look, this group of people could find something wrong with all of the 15 films in the competition," said the Oscar-winning actor in his closing remarks. "But film festivals at their best are meant to free filmmakers from strict commercial demands. We demand no car crashes, no pistols pointed into the lens ... no damsels in distress, no adolescent superheroes," said Jones, who added that such elements are not necessarily bad, "just not required." 

The fest's best director honor went to Malaysia's Edmund Yeo for Aqerat (We the Dead), a film set against the background of Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar.

"I'm just sweating, not crying," said an emotional Yeo. "We had a crew of just 20, so everyone was multitasking; my line producer was my assistant director, and most of the crew appeared as extras. I'm 33 and I was probably the oldest person on the crew. And we shot in the monsoon in 12 days." 

China's The Looming Storm won the best artistic contribution award for first-time helmer Dong Yue, as well as best actor honors for Duan Yihong, after what jury member and Chinese actress Zhao Wei said was a unanimous decision.

Crater took home the special jury prize and $20,000 for Italy's Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino, while Tremble All You Want, adapted from a novel and directed by Akiko Ohku, earned the audience award and $10,000.

Best actress honors went to Adleline D'Hermy for her performance in France's Maryline, and Akio Fujimoto's Passage of Life, a Japan-Cambodia co-production, received the Asia Future Award.

Finnish writer and producer Jani Poso's Euthanizer won the best screenplay prize and $5,000 from cable network Wowow.

Jones welcomed his former Harvard roommate Al Gore to the stage for the fest's closing film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, saying, “We've only been friends for about 53 years. And he's a prize-winning filmmaker.”

Said the former U.S. vice president: "Thanks for this wonderful film festival and for reuniting me with my old friend. I hope you will enjoy the film, but also see it as a challenge to become part of the solution to the climate crisis."