The 25th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) wrapped on Sunday with top Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix and best director award going to Lorraine Levy’s French film The Other Son [pictured].
Kang Yi-kwan’s South Korean film Juvenile Offender also picked up two awards – Special Jury Prize and best actor for Seo Young-ju.
Festival chairman Tom Yoda announced the end of his five-year tenure (extended from the usual three years) and revealed his successor to be Yasushi Shiina, director-executive advisor of Kadokawa Pictures at Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co.
The Other Son, which follows what happens to the families of a young Israeli and a young Palestinian who find out they were switched at birth, picked up a total of $55,000 in award money. Director Lorraine Levy thanked the festival and jury saying that the best director award would provide strength and encouragement. She was surprised to be called back to the stage for the Grand Prix which she dedicated “to the children of Israel and Palestine”.
For full production details for the winner of Best Film visit
Buzz film Juvenile Offender director Kang Yi-kwan thanked the festival and jury saying: “Making a film means meeting people who share the same kind of thinking as you, and I’ve gotten so many friends with this film, and with this award.” He thanked his two main actors whom he said were his strength and support throughout it all - Seo Young-ju, the lead “juvenile offender” who is belatedly reconciled with his mother, and Lee Jung-hyun, who plays the young delinquent mother.
Competition jury head Roger Corman said: “All the films were excellent. They each demonstrate the glory and power of cinema to entertain, inform, and teach us. Each film coming from different cultures and countries and around the world demonstrated a common theme of humanity. Despite the country of origin, we are all equal and, I hope, wonderful people.” (See below for full awards list.)
Japanese Eyes best picture award winner GFP Bunny director Yutaka Tsuchiya had the audience laughing as he asked if it were not all an elaborate joke but immediately said, “Thanks for the honor. About the prize money, will it be deposited into my bank account?”
He went on to explain his film was shot with his own money for JPY4m ($50,200) and PR would cost another JPY2m. “Having this award will send a message to other young people making films in the world. I hope they’ll be encouraged by this.”
Japanese Eyes section jury member and film director Yoshihiro Fukagawa said: “I think this is a time when film companies aren’t nurturing new filmmakers and indies have to make it by themselves. I hope this encourages more wonderful films.”
Fellow jury member Genki Kawamura said that the section would increasingly be a place where producers like him would be “looking for guerilla-type films and the kind of work that studios can’t do.”
Previously a well-known face on the festival and market circuit as chairman of Gaga, Tom Yoda re-launched and revitalised the Tokyo fest with its ecology-driven Green Carpet theme and Toyota Earth Grand Prix, and raised the fest’s international profile with outreach to filmmakers and media.
Standing in his trademark green tuxedo at the Closing ceremony, he said: “We had 1,332 entries this year - up 36%, and I would like to thank everyone for their support. Many wonderful films were shown this year.”
Looking back on his tenure he said: “Last year, we showed the power of film to heal after Japan’s great earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Over the past five years, it has been quite eventful. In 2008, we had the Lehman shock. 2011 was the year of Japan’s great earthquake and Fukushima. Many things come to mind.
“Here at the Tokyo International Film Festival, unfortunately we haven’t always been able to screen the films we wanted. We at the festival believe in the freedom of speech and expression. With that in mind, we believed in the green carpet, ecology, and the power of films. All the staff have followed me with this. So I am feeling a sense of achievement right now, and thank everyone for their support.”
He referred to the controversy over The Cove, a critical film on Japanese dolphin-hunting in 2009, and this year’s Feng Shui; not a political film but over which there was noise because the Chinese distributor tried belatedly to pull the film due to China-Japan tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.
Already having received a contract and the print from the distributor as well as China’s SARFT approval on the film, TIFF went ahead with the screenings citing a responsibility to show great films. Feng Shui picked up buzz as one of the best of the fest, although ultimately not awarded.
Yoda will continue as TIFF chairman until March 31, 2013.
“I am hoping I have contributed somewhat to the Japanese film industry and that it will continue to grow,” he said.
Having raised the bar for his successor in terms of international profile and showmanship, Yoda speaking to Screendaily said: “He will do well. The whole industry is pushing behind him and I am one of them.”
Full awards list:
Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix: The Other Son (France) dir. Lorraine Lévy
Special Jury Prize: Juvenile Offender (Korea) dir. Kang Yi-kwan
Award for Best Director: Lorraine Lévy, The Other Son (France)
Award for Best Actress: Neslihan Atagül, Araf - Somewhere in Between (Turkey/Germany)
Award for Best Actor Seo Young-ju, Juvenile Offender (Korea)
Award for Best Artistic Contribution: Pankaj Kumar, cinematographer, Ship of Theseus (India)
Audience Award: Flashback Memories 3D (Japan) dir. Tetsuaki Matsue
Toyota Earth Grand Prix
Toyota Earth Grand Prix: Himself He Cooks (Belgium) dir. Valerie Berteau, Philippe Witjes
Special Jury Prize: Trashed (UK) dir. Candida Brady
Winds of Asia-Middle East
Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award ($10,000): Night of Silence (Turkey) dir. Reis Çelik
Special Mention Bwakaw (Philippines) dir. by Jun Robles Lana
Him, Here After (Sri Lanka) dir. Asoka Handagama
Full Circle (China) dir. by Zhang Yang
Best Picture Award: GFP Bunny, dir. Yutaka Tsuchiya)