Opening while one typhoon swept past and closing as a second was coming ashore, the 26th Tokyo International Film Festival wrapped up last weekend to some well-deserved cheers. One of the last big events in this year's film-festival calendar, Tokyo showcased an impressive mix of high-profile international titles, Asian highlights and some new Japanese fare.
We Are the Best!
In the competition section, jury president Chen Kaige _ his presence a symbolic gesture since last year the festival was affected by stormy Sino-Japanese relations _ awarded the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix to We Are The Best!, a Swedish film directed by Lukas Moodysson about a group of secondary school girls who start a punk band.
Taking the best director trophy was Benedikt Erlingsson from Iceland for his human/equine drama Of Horses And Men. Meanwhile, the Special Jury Prize went to Bending The Rules, an Iranian drama portraying the friction between traditional values and young people's urge to behave in ways considered out of bounds by their elders.
Wang Jingchun won the best actor gong for To Live And Die In Ordos, a Chinese film set in Mongolia, and that veteran from the Philippines, Eugene Domingo, was named best actress for her role in Barber's Tales, a story about a woman who runs a barber's shop in a time of great political tensions.
Another festival favourite was The Empty Hours, a Mexican film set in a seaside love motel. It won an award for best artistic contribution, a consolation prize for a film that skilfully handles a delicate relationship between a grown woman and a teenage boy.
In the new Asian Future section, which focuses on upcoming directors, the eight films vying for the honour displayed diverse sensibilities that, viewed together, were a good reflection of the present-day dynamics of Asia, from Turkey all the way to China.
One of the festival's biggest hits, the horror flick Rigor Mortis, by Hong Kong filmmaker Juno Mak, didn't win any prizes at all _ but it was one of the most talked-about and will probably be released in Bangkok. The jury ultimately gave the Best Asian Future Film Award to Chinese film Today And Tomorrow. Directed by Yang Huilong, this chronicles the confusion, anxiety and hope of young college graduates in China as seen through the eyes of three friends, members of the "ant tribe", the swarm of people who commute to Beijing every morning.
Meanwhile, the critical rave of the festival, Japanese film The Tale Of Iya by Tetsuichiro Tsuya, won a special mention in the Asian Future section. A film of hearltfelt beauty and moving humanism, The Tale Of Iya is set in one of Japan's last patches of wilderness in which villagers are portrayed negotiating the inevitable dilemma between incoming modernity and their tranquil traditions. Shot on 35mm, this film is certain to make ripples over the next 12 months.
The Tale of Iya