Director Kamen Kalev’s Eastern Plays was awarded the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix at the closing ceremony of the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), which closed on Sunday (October 25).

Eastern Plays also won the best director prize for Kalev and the best actor award for late actor Christo Christov, who died soon after filming finished.

Competition jury head Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu said that the tough Bulgarian drama about two brothers “was able to express emotions and themes that all members of the jury recognized unanimously.”

Sebastian Cordero’s Spanish-Colombian drama Rabia won the special jury prize, while Julie Gayet was awarded best actress for her role in Xabi Molia’s Eight Times Up. Canadian comedy The Trotsky picked up the audience award.

French nature-set fantasy Wolf won the Toyota Earth Grand Prix, reflecting the festival’s eco-minded outlook. TIFF’s last-minute addition of Louie Psihoyos’ controversial documentary The Cove saw organisers trying to avoid a post-screening debate on Japan’s dolphin hunting policies.

The best Asian-Middle Eastern film award went to Ounie Lecomte’s Korean-French co-production A Brand New Life and Mahsun Kirmizigul’s Turkish drama I Saw The Sun garnered a special mention. Late Malaysian writer-director-actress Yasmin Ahmad received the Winds of Asia special contribution award.

Tetsuaki Matsue’s Live Tape, shot entirely in one 74-minute take, won best picture in the Japanese Eyes program.

The Japan premiere of Pixar’s Up followed the awards ceremony as closing film.

Audience admissions for TIFF totalled 41,771 at 270 screenings compared with 41,471 at 315 films last year. Attendance at the Co-Festa umbrella events, including the TIFFCOM market, increased sharply to 278,339 from 192,273 last year.