Lee Sang-il's Hula Girls was named best picture of 2006 at the 30th Japan Academy Awards, which took place on Friday night (Feb 16).

The film picked up a total of four major prizes from 13 nominations, including best director for Lee Sang-il, best supporting actress for Yu Aoi and best screenplay for Lee and Daisuke Habara. The film also won the Audience Award.

Produced by Cine Qua Non, Hula Girls tells the true story of a group of women who learned hula to attract tourists and save a depressed mining town from financial ruin in the mid-1960s.

The film was one of the top 20 domestic earners of 2006, grossing $11.74m (Y1.4bn) during its theatrical run last autumn and was also Japan 's official entry to the US Academy Awards. It also won best picture earlier this week at the Blue Ribbon awards as chosen by film journalists from Japan 's major sports newspapers.

Miki Nakatani won best actress for her role in tragi-comedy Memories Of Matsuko, directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. The film also won prizes for music and editing.

Best actor went to Ken Watanabe for his performance as a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease in Memories Of Tomorrow. Watanabe was also awarded a Blue Ribbon in the same category.

Takashi Sasano won best supporting actor for Yoji Yamada's samurai drama Love And Honour. The film won two more statuettes for cinematography and lighting. The Shochiku release has grossed over $30m in its 11th week.

Mamoru Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time picked up the best animated feature prize. WWII drama Yamato won prizes for sound and art direction. Warner Bros' Flags Of Our Fathers was awarded best foreign film.