Director Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir was awarded the grand prize at the conclusion of the 9th edition of Tokyo Filmex (Nov 22-30).
The award carried a cash prize of $10,470 (Y1m). The film's animation director Yoni Goodman was on hand to receive the honour.
An Israel-France-Germany co-production, Waltz With Bashir is an animated documentary-style film that employs fantastical imagery to depict Folman's own quest to recall his days as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon war.
Waltz With Bashir swept top awards in its home country of Israel, screened in competition in Cannes and is nominated for best foreign film at today's British Independent Film Awards.
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'It's an important film which provokes a very strong impact while inventing a new cinematographic language,' commented jury member Isabelle Regnier.
The Special Jury prize, sponsored by Kodak, was jointly awarded to South Korea-USA co-production Treeless Mountain and China's Survival Song.
Each film-maker won Kodak colour negative film stock valued at $4,000. It is the first time two films have shared the prize at Tokyo Filmex.
Documentary Survival Song is director Yu Guang-yi's sophomore effort after his debut feature Timber Gang (a.k.a. The Last Lumberjacks) screened at Tokyo Filmex last year.
It portrays the struggles of a hunting and farming community whose
traditional lifestyle is threatened by encroaching land development in the mountains of Heilongjiang Province.
Survival Song previously won best film at theCinema Digital Seoul festin August.
Jury member Song Il-gon commented: 'It's not just a documentary
about poor people. We see the real faces of all our emotions - hatred, happiness, conflict and hope.'
Korean-American director Kim So-yong's Treeless Mountain follows two little sisters who are foisted off on relatives by their wayward mother.
It had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and
also screened in Pusan.
'It's a film overflowing with love. We were moved to see how the two children matured,' said competition jury head Teruyo Nogami.
Jury members Tony Leung Ka-fai and Leon Cakoff also praised Kazuyoshi Kumakiri's Non-Ko and Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Passion respectively.
The audience award, sponsored by French fashion label Agnes B, was given to director Sion Sono's Love Exposure, accompanied by a cash prize.
The nine-day festival, held in Tokyo's Yurakucho and Kyobashi districts, featured 39 titles from Japan, Asia, Europe and the Americas, featuring special retrospectives of Japanese director Koreyoshi Kurahara and Brazilian director Joaquim Pedro de Andrade.
Concurrent events included UniJapan-sponsored industry screenings of new Japanese films.