Director Yang Ik-june’s Breathless (Ddongpari) was awarded the grand prize and $11,560 (Y1m) and the audience award at the tenth Tokyo Filmex, which ran from November 21-29.

The film was singled out by a competition jury headed by Japanese director Yoichi Sai. The prizes add to previous accolades including major awards at Rotterdam, the New York Asian Film Festival and Montreal’s Fantasia.

Actor Yang made his feature directorial debut on Breathless and sent a comedic thank-you video to Filmex that screened at the awards ceremony before the Japan premiere of closing film Thirst.

Yang stars as a brutal loan shark who bonds with a female high school student enduring an abusive household. The film is set for a domestic release in March 2010 through Bitters End.

The special jury prize and $8,000 in Kodak colour film stock was awarded to Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats. The film previously won the Un Certain Regard special jury prize in Cannes.

For its tenth anniversary Tokyo Filmex expanded its line-up to 61 titles, including a retrospective on French director Jean-Pierre Melville and the concurrent Korean Film Showcase.

In collaboration with Shochiku studios, the 27-title Nippon Modern: 1930s programme included classic films by Yasujiro Ozu and Yasujiro Shimazu, many of which have never screened before. The collection is set to travel to Asia and beyond, with locations currently in negotiations.

A special symposium invited directors Takeshi Kitano, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Hirokazu Kore-eda to talk about their film-making careers. Kitano’s Office Kitano is one of the founding companies on the festival’s organising committee.