The jury for the nine-day festival selected the French pic, a drama about personal identity in Israel and Palestine, from within a field of 15 films at a ceremony at the Roppongi Hills complex in Minato Ward.
Levy acknowledged the difficulty in matching the worldwide success of last year’s winner, “Untouchable,” another French film that has exceeded $300 million in ticket sales at the global box office.
“The path for my film is to open doors to the issues portrayed,” said Levy, who was also awarded Best Director. “The fact that I am French-Jewish did make me delve deeper into myself emotionally, intellectually, and artistically. I had the fear of not being able to fail with this film — that is, I had great hopes as well as fear.”
The jury was presided over by producer Roger Corman, who said the film, which received $50,000 in prize money, dealt with a very contentious issue. “This film gave equal weight to the Israeli and Palestinian side without coming down as a pro-Israeli or a pro-Palestinian film,” said Corman. “It balanced the political and social situation. The film was made on such a sensitive subject yet made a very simple but clear point; that all people are equal.”
South Korea’s “Juvenile Offender,” in which a 16-year-old juvenile on probation reunites with his mother, took the Special Jury Prize and $20,000, with the pic’s male lead, Seo Young-ju, being named Best Actor. The Best Actress prize went to Neslihan Atagül for her role as a bored cafeteria employee who dreams of love in the Turkish pic “Araf — Somewhere in Between.”
Helmer Yutaka Tsuchiya’s “GFP Bunny,” a mix of fantasy and reality that is based on a teenager who poisoned her mother, claimed top prize in the “Japanese Eyes” section, which focuses on independent films. He said the film cost six million yen to make and promote. “I’d like to ask for your support in funding young Japanese filmmakers,” said the director. “The jury said many films were not inspirational, that is, that independent films need a sharper edge. Yet, I wonder why major motion films do not do guerilla type films.”
Two pics kicked off the proceedings on October 20, the world premiere of the James Cameron-produced 3D pic “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away,” and “Japan in a Day,” a crowd-sourced pic produced by Ridley Scott that chronicles the recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
Fest chairman Tatsumi “Tom” Yoda said announced that this year, his fifth, would be his last. Next year TIFF will have presided over by Yasushi Shiina, an executive at Kadokawa Pictures at Kadokawa Shoten Publishing.
This was the fifth consecutive year that the festival has included an environmental mandate. Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles were provided, and filmmakers and celebrities, walked over a green carpet composed of recycled materials during Saturday night’s festivities.
The Toyota Earth Grand Prix was awarded to “Himself He Cooks,” a Belgian documentary on food directed by Philippe Witjes.
The fest’s closing pic was Robert Lorenz’s “Trouble with the Curve,” a baseball pic in which Clint Eastwood portrays a baseball scout reuniting with his daughter.