Hideo Nakata's Dark Water won the Grand Prize at the Gerardmer fantastic film festival on Sunday. The Ring director also took home the Youth Jury Prize - given by a group of 12 film students from the region - and the International Critics' Prize.
Nakata is the recognised master currently working in Asian horror films and his influence could be felt among the other Asian entries. Dark Water does not yet have American distribution and seems a less likely candidate for a remake than The Ring.
Clearly moved, Nakata said in his first acceptance speech that although he had noted his desire to break out of the horror genre early in the festival he would "now ask for nothing more than to come back here very quickly with my ghost movies." Accepting the following trophies he admitted he already has a new horror film on deck in Japan.
The other awards were split - with the Prix Premiere going to May from director Lucky McKee. The film is an eerily plausible tale of a deranged girl out for revenge against those she believes mistreat her. The other two titles among award winners were Eric Valette's Malefique - about four convicts trying to escape from their jail cell via black magic - and the UK's cautionary tale The Gathering from Brian Gilbert about a group of people who watched the crucifixion for entertainment and are condemned to witness to horrible tragedy. Both films shared the Jury Prize.
One film that stood out and was surprisingly ignored when it came time to the prizes was Dead End - a French production with two first time directors at the helm that was shot in Los Angeles in English and with an American cast. Clearly the wittiest and best written film of the selection, it was the talk of the festival but perhaps not serious enough to take home a statue.