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France’s ‘Untouchable’ takes Sakura prize at Tokyo International Film Fest


TOKYO (TR) – The 24th Tokyo International Film Festival concluded on Sunday in Tokyo with its top prize being awarded to France’s “Untouchable,” directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.

The nine-day festival awarded the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix and $50,000 to the drama, the true story of a man paralyzed from the neck down and his caregiver, from a field of 15 films at a ceremony at the Roppongi Hills complex in Minato Ward.

TIFF featured over 315 screenings before 41,000 film fans at theaters in the Roppongi entertainment district.

Two pics kicked off the proceedings, director Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers,” an adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel, and “1911,” a historical war drama starring Jackie Chan.

The jury was presided over by producer Edward Pressman, who said that some of the better films in the main competition included themes about the complications of immigration and the consequences of coming from different cultures and classes. “‘Untouchable’ is a story about two men with very different personalities creating a bond and harmony,” he said. “It is a film with great skill and artistry.”

Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy were jointly awarded Best Actor for their roles in the film.

The Special Jury Prize was received by “The Woodsman and the Rain,” Japanese helmer Shuichi Okita’s story of a lumberjack who comes closer to his son after befriending a young film director shooting a zombie film in his mountain village.

The Best Director award went to Sweden’s Ruben Östlund for “Play,” a drama in which black youths that swindle whites. Glenn Close, who starred in “Albert Nobbs,” a 19th century story about a woman with a secret, took the Best Actress prize.

“About the Pink Sky,” the story of a school girl who stumbles across a large sum of money by Japanese helmer Keiichi Kobayashi, claimed top prize in the “Japanese Eyes” section. “This is a completely original movie,” Kobayashi said. “I thought it would be interesting to show society through the eyes of a high school girl in way that has some edge to it. By doing so, I thought I might be limiting the story, but I later realized that the story naturally expanded by itself. In a sense, I made this film as a ‘business card’ for myself — a film people would remember me by.”

This is the fourth consecutive year that the festival has included an environmental mandate. Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles were provided, films with themes related to environmental conservation were screened, and filmmakers and celebrities walked over a green carpet composed of recycled materials during the opening night’s festivities.

Awarded the Toyota Earth Grand Prix was “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga,” a documentary about hunters in the Siberian Taiga by Russian director Dmitry Vasyukov.

The fest’s closing pic was Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball,” a baseball pic in which Brad Pitt portrays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane.