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TIFF wraps, ‘Eastern Plays’ from Bulgaria claims top prize

'Eastern Plays'
‘Eastern Plays’
TOKYO (TR) – The 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival closed on Sunday with the award of the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix going to the Bulgarian film “Eastern Plays,” the story of two brothers facing challenges in racial tolerance in Eastern Europe.

“We share a lot of things in our history with our neighboring countries,” said director Kamen Kalev, whose prize comes with $50,000. “There’s still much prejudice going on in our country and I think on their side as well. But we had a good relationship with our crew.”

The Best Actor prize went to Christo Cristov, who starred in the film.

Jury president Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of “Babel”) requested that the jury simply experience each film on its own merits. “I was looking for films that generated emotions and reflections in me and ‘Eastern Plays’ did this,” he said. “This film has a truth that stands out — it has clear intentions and the director achieved that until the end. I’m not looking for reality but truthfulness. The film has a solid and strong exposure of the truth.”

Among the other winners were Sebastián Cordero, who took the Special Jury Prize for the Spanish love story “Rabia.” Jacob Tierney was given the Audience Award for “The Trotsky,” a Canadian comedy about a boy who thinks he has been reincarnated as the Russian revolutionary. Julie Gayet won Best Actress for the French drama “Eight Times Up.” Director Tetsuaki Matsue shot his film “Live Tape” in Tokyo’s Kichijoji district and claimed the Best Picture Award in the “Japanese Eyes” section.

TIFF’s week-long run included roughly 130 films at theaters in the Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo. Kicking off the event on October 17 was the documentary “Oceans” by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. This was followed by twenty minutes of footage from “Avatar,” the James Cameron sci-fi feature in 3-D. The closer was Pixar’s “Up,” an animated adventure up in the sky directed by Pete Docter.

Just as last year, the fest pushed for ecological awareness via a “green carpet” at the opening ceremony, the use of recycled materials and the distribution of awards for non-competition films that evoke environmental themes.

The controversial documentary “The Cove,” which shows the butchering of dolphins in the small Japanese fishing town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, was screened in Japan for the first time.