Director Nir Bergman’s Intimate Grammar was awarded the Tokyo sakura grand prix and $50,000 at the closing ceremony of the 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), which wrapped up on Sunday (October 31).

Competition jury head Neil Jordan described the film, which chronicles a boy’s coming of age in 1960s Israel, as “a beautiful film”. Intimate Grammar was awarded best film at the Jerusalem International Film Festival earlier this year.

Bergman expressed surprise at claiming TIFF’s top prize for a second time (a festival first), having previously won in 2002 for Broken Wings.

Japanese director Kaneto Shindo’s anti-war drama Post Card (Ichimai No Hagaki) won the special jury prize. Although requiring a wheelchair to grace the stage Shindo was in good spirits, reiterating that Post Card would be the final film of his 75-year career.

Gilles Paquet-Brenner won best director for French WWII drama Sarah’s Key. The film also picked up the audience award and $10,000, as announced yesterday afternoon.

China’s Fan Bingbing won best actress for her role in director Li Yu’s late-added competition entry Buddha Mountain, which screened as a world premiere.

The relationship drama was also recognized for best artistic contribution for what Jordan described as its “fluid direction and cinematography.”

Chinese film also excelled with Wang Qian-yuan grabbing the best actor prize for  his role in Zhang Meng’s The Piano In A Factory. Overjoyed at his first-ever prize, Wang hugged and professed his admiration for Taiwanese-born competition jury member Judy Ongg.

The gesture went some way to smooth over the flare-up on TIFF’s opening day when the Chinese delegation called for a spotlight on Taiwan’s new cinema to be referred to as “China Taiwan” or “Chinese Taipei”.

The best Asian-Middle Eastern film award and $10,000 went to independent Korean drama Passerby #3 (Rainbow) directed by Shin Su-won. Combined feature and short The Tiger Factory/Inhalation, directed by Woo Ming Jin and Edmund Yeo respectively, got a special mention.

Koji Fukada’s Hospitalite (Kantai) won best film and $12,440 (Y1m) in the Japanese Eyes section.

Canadian documentary Waterlife, directed by Kevin McMahon won the Toyota Earth Grand Prix and Joseph Vilsmaier’s mountain climbing drama Nanga Parbat the special jury prize. As part of TIFF’s ecological mandate, TIFF continued with its green carpet while festival cinemas displayed green energy certificates and donation boxes.

The Japanese premiere of Ben Affleck’s The Town followed the awards ceremony as closing film.

Audience admissions for TIFF totaled 41,862 at 275 screenings compared with 41,771 at 270 films last year. Total attendance at TIFFCOM and other allied events totaled 134,094.