TIFF Award Winners

            Announced its award winners of their 28th Tokyo International Film Festival on the closing day, Oct. 31st, the Brazilian biopic ‘Nise – The Heart of Madness’ took this year’s Tokyo Grand Prix and Best Actress Award for Brazil’s famous actress Gloria Pires. The moving story about a real life source Nise da Silveira, female psychiatrist who gave her everything confronting a conservative, male order in the mental-health establihsment to reformed more humane ways to the abusive electroshock therapies through paints, dogs and love, successfully moved the international jury members led by Bryan Singer.

            Spoke about the process, which was tough over some other good Competition entries in the festival, Singer said that he had a few conflict with other jury members to pick the winner. But it was the main theme of ‘Nise’ that really resonated to him, who once worked as a driver of a bus for mentally disabled children while he was in college, as well as having an autistic cousin. Comparing ‘Nise’ to other titles, Singer said although he came from the independent filmmaking and understand the challenge, he also wanted to be entertained when he watched movies.

            Tran Anh Hung, who was more with ‘Cold of Kalandar’ at first, responded to Singer, saying there really was a fight but the spirit, otherwise was elegant, where each of them really expressed what they really liked and the end they were still be able to choose the best one and still smile at each other.

            Bent Hamer added that they were all very open-minded and in the end, they were basically on the same page about which film they wanted to award.

            Kazuki Omori explained in more details that out of 6 titles Bryan Singer named in the final meeting as the best candidates, ones that really drew them in, the process actually went very well and they all pleased about the film that was selected.

            Susanne Bier expressed her thought that as the jury of film festivals, they were not looking for perfection or an accomplished film, but more to see future potentials and that was the beauty of it.

            While Nansun Shi described although personal experience could affected one’s choice of films, “When a film is really well made, it transcends, it can draw you into it, and give you that experience, bringing a new world to you. And that is what the award-winning films are about”.

TIFF Jury Closing Conference 2

            The announcement of the award winners started with the Samurai Award, which went to director Yoji Yamada and John Woo for their achievements as filmmakers who continue to create groundbreaking films that carve a path to a new era.

TIFF Arigato Award

            As the newly established Arigatö Award is presented to express a heartfelt “Arigatö!” to filmmakers who have contributed immensely to the film industry and have always shown something memorable and spectacular. The award goes to the actress Kirin Kiki for her great achievement and influence over the years, video game developer Akihiro Hino for his film ‘Yo-kai Watch‘ which created a whirlwind success in the industry, actress Suzu Hirose for stealing the scenes as an up and coming actress, director Mamoru Hosoda for his feature animation film that achieved a groundbreaking box-office and illustrator, novelist and actor Lily Franky for his inimitable accomplishment in various artistic genres.

Here are the complete list of winners of the 28th TIFF:

Japanese Cinema Splash Award

Best Picture Award: KEN AND KAZU directed by Hiroshi Shoji

TIFF Ken and Kazu

            According to Mark Peranson, jury member and head of programming at the Festival del Film Locarno, the general quality of acting in ‘Ken and Kazu’ was very high and the camerawork and editing were very precise. Receiving the award, Hiroshi Shoji expressed his joy and give thanks especially for the two film’s leads, Shinsuke Kato and Katsuya Maiguma.

TIFF Japanese Cinema Splash Award

              In the award winner press conference, he also said that he only spent 2 million yen on the film, and receiving the prize proved that fair screening is conducted at TIFF and why he wanted TIFF to become a larger film festival. About the independent film industry in Japan, Hino added that it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to do in indie filmmaking. The 29 year old up and coming director had transformed a short film with the same title into a feature film.

The Asian Future Film Award:

The Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center: A SIMPLE GOODBYE (China) directed by Degena Yun

TIFF A Simple Goodbye

            Commented on the selecting process, Tadao Sato, jury member of the Asian Future section and President of the Japan Institute of the moving image, said that it was highly difficult to pick one of the entries because each of them reflected the culture and current situation of their own country, which also the main criteria in the section. Receiving the award on behalf of Yun, the film’s line producer Zhao Yanming said director Yun was very happy and honored for her first feature that portrayed her real life story and issues she had with her parents. She was also very moved and touched, as the film was a graduate work for students where many young people gathered in it.

Best Asian Future Award: THE ISLAND FUNERAL (Thailand) directed by Pimpaka Towira

TIFF Island Funeral

            As this year’s characteristic of the selected films in Asian Future section is more than half of it directed by female directors, this winning Thai film is also the one. Receiving the award with tearful voice, director Pimpaka Towira said that she was excited and overwhelmed as the film took so long to make over many hardships. Oliver Père, jury member and Executive Director – Director of Film Acquisitions at Arte France described the film has a beauty of the landscape and adopted a unique cinematic language, and that took them (all the jury members) to space and fantasy and a spiritual world with a strong political background.

TIFF Asian Future Award producer Zhao Yanming & Pimpaka Towira

            Later at the press conference Towira shared the film’s behind the scenes, that as her second feature film, there are many problems in Southern Thailand at the moment, which she wanted to portray. The casting took time because she was really looking for a Muslim actor, and at the casting process, the actress Heen Sasithorn was still in New York.

The Competition Section

WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award: COLD OF KALANDAR directed by Mustafa Kara

TIFF WOWOW Cold of Kalandar

Chosen by 6 jury members selected from subscribers of the WOWOW channels, the award was presented by Nobuya Wazaki, Chairman of WOWOW Inc.

The Audience Award: GOD WILLING (Italy) directed by Edoardo Falcone

TIFF God Willing

            ‘God Willing’ is one of the Competition entry that many of the audience found very entertaining over a premise that set in the medical world, but talks emotionally about the depth of human heart.

TIFF 15 Audience Award

           Director Edoardo Falcone received the award and said in the press conference that his film is a very Italian film in spirit, and in comedy, beside making people laugh, irony is very important, mostly in Italian films, but the ones with the touch of intelligence. He described that Italy makes a lot of comedy films so making something different is really important.

Best Artistic Contribution: FAMILY FILM (Czech) directed by Olmo Omerzu

TIFF Family Film

            Upon receiving the award, director Olmo Omerzu commented that the award meant really a lot to him and all the crews. He thanked cast, as well as the dogs and their trainer Philip, and all the producers as the film was a big co-production between many countries; France, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia and Czech Republic themselves.

TIFF God Willing 2

          On the theme of a parent abandoning the child, Omerzu explained, “When preparing the script, I knew people whose parents had left them at the age of 15-16. People who read the script were criticizing the parents but I think that once you become 50-60 year old, you want to start another life for yourself. So I think the theme of this film is reality. My film was not a classic drama structure but I was pleased to see how open the audience was towards it”.


TIFF Land of Mine

            Handed by the member of the competition jury Kazuki Omori who also praised the two actors as the real vehicles of the film. Said that they nailed the complexity of the characters and their desperate adversity, Omori admitted that he has the great admiration for their acting.

TIFF Best Actor Roland Moller

          The Ambassador of Denmark to Japan HE Freddy Svane received the award on behalf of both of them, who appeared via video message, saying that the film did communicate a strong message that in war there are no winners.

Best Actress: Gloria Pires in NISE – THE HEART OF MADNESS

TIFF Nise the Heart of Madness

            The award for the best actress was handed by Susanne Bier, saying that very rarely the jury members agree on the selection in the first 5 minutes of the meeting. Bier praised how Pires portrayed the real life character in the film smart, elegant, touching without becoming sentimental. Director Roberto Berliner received the award on behalf of Pires.

TIFF Grand Prix

            Sharing the story behind the scene, Berliner said that Pires at first didn’t read the script but her husband did and then convinced her to take the role. Pires also made the film having a bigger profile due to her popularity in Brazil and really deserved the award for how she portrayed Nise not by imitating the real one, but just expressed Nise’s intentions in her own beautiful way. To Berliner, ‘Nise – The Heart of Madness’ is nowhere near an independent film nor mainstream, but rather a medium film.


TIFF Best Director Cold of Kalandar

            Handed by Tran Anh Hung, director Mustafa Kara who received the award said that the film had a difficult and long production over such a complex theme portraying time and the vicious cycle of life, and “There were technical issues and we were not even sure if we could deliver the completed work to this festival. But we did, and I would like to express my grattitude to the whole production team”.

Special Jury Prize: ALL THREE OF US directed by KHEIRON

TIFF All Three of Us

            Bent Hamer, who presented the award, gave his comment about the film, which also got rave reviews by many audience in the festival, “The background story is dark and hopeless, but this film is full of life and hope for the future – not only for themselves but for the community and lastly the country they moved to”.

TIFF Special Jury Prize

              The film was actually played like ‘Life is Beautiful’ or ‘No Man’s Land’, portraying the gritty of a country’s political history, but told in a satirical, fun and comedic way as a tribute to the director, a French comedian Kheiron – to his parents. Kheiron, who appeared in the festival apparently couldn’t stay until the last day, so the award was received by Mr. Nouredine Essadi, Audiovisual Attaché for the French Embassy to Japan, who also commented that the film really reflects issues Europe faces today, such as refugees and how people have to adjust themselves to a new life.

The Tokyo Grand Prix Award: NISE – THE HEART OF MADNESS directed by Roberto Berliner

TIFF Grand Prix 2 Bryan Singer

            Upon giving the award to director Roberto Berliner, TIFF’s President of the Jury in the Competition section, Bryan Singer, enthusiastically explained that the most important part of filmmaking is creating a world that’s believable, and the film has it all beyond a touch of sadness, humor and triumph.

TIFF Grand Prix 1

                   Berliner expressed his 13 years efforts to make the film. “During those 13 years, I became tired and I had people trying to discourage me from shooting, but I also thought it was important to continue because Nise was a strong person who was a pioneer in schizophrenia research and whose team still work together today. I did a lot of research about her and schizophrenic people until they became closer to me. This relationship is what kept me going throughout the years, and I knew that I couldn’t live without this film.  I wrote and rewrote and rewrote, and rewrote because Nise is such an important person who is a revolutionary figure. Only a few people know about her so it was my responsibility to show her to the world. In life, sometimes we know that we are doing something special, and I felt that way in the making of this film”.

            Wrapping the awarding ceremony by confessing that the selection of the Grand Prix Award was not a quick decision but the festival was a great journey with great people, TIFF Director General Yasushi Shiina then gave his final word for the festival: “I thank everyone, the sponsors, government sectors, staff and volunteers who worked very hard for the Tokyo International Film Festival. We were blessed with great weather to hold the festival in Roppongi, Shinjuku and at Kabukiza Theatre. The Tokyo International Film Festival commenced 3 decades ago in 1985 when the opening film in the first edition of the festival was ‘Ran’ directed by Akira Kurosawa. This year, we established the Japanese Classics section, as a means to introduce our treasure, the Japanese films to the world. With Tokyo selected as the host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, and with increased attention to the city and the country, we will continue to contribute to promoting cultural exchange through films’.

            Closed by the world premiere of Tetsuo Shinohara’s ‘Terminal’ which was adapted from the Naoki Prize-winning masterpiece from Shino Sakuragi as the closing film, this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival was attended by total 63.738 persons over 207 films screened, while TIFFCOM draws 239.561 persons and the Red Carpet, Arena and other official events at the total 145.872 persons. See you at the next festival! (dan)

all photos ©2015 TIFF

~ by danieldokter on November 2, 2015.

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