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Tokyo International Film Fest wraps, ‘Intimate Grammar’ takes top prize

Intimate Grammar
‘Intimate Grammar’
TOKYO (TR) – The 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival concluded on Sunday with its top prize being awarded to “Intimate Grammar,” Israeli helmer Nir Bergman’s second film, set in Israel in the 1960s.

The nine-day festival awarded the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix and $50,000 to Bergman for the drama, based on the 1991 novel “The Book of Intimate Grammar” by David Grossman, from a field of 15 films.

Bergman’s debut “Broken Wings” also won the Grand Prix at TIFF in 2002. Bergman said that he has now re-evaluated his strict emphasis on the filmmaking process over potential prizes. “With my second feature film, suddenly the prizes become so important in knowing that people love your film,” he said. “I still think the process is very important but the prizes are important too.”

TIFF featured over 200 films at theaters in the Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo.

Kicking off the fest last week was David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” the Sony Pictures film that stars Jesse Eisenberg and tells story of Mark Zuckerberg’s founding of the immensely popular social-working site Facebook.

The jury was presided over by director Neil Jordan, whose film “The Company of Wolves” screened at TIFF’s inaugural event in 1985.

“We watched all these 15 movies in a tiny theater,” said Jordan. “When watching one film after another, you forget that movies are actually made by people. Therefore, it’s great to see the actors, directors, and producers come up on stage today. It’s extraordinary that after so much discussion only 4 or 5 films come to the forefront.”

The Special Jury Prize was received by “Postcard,” by veteran Japanese director Kaneto Shindo. “I have been making films for a long time,” said Shindo, seated in a wheelchair. “This is my last film. I am 98 years old. I don’t think it is possible to go on. It is a good time to say goodbye. I hope you all will continue to make wonderful films.”

The Best Director award went to Gilles Paquet-Brenner for “Sarah’s Key,” a World War II-era drama about the holocaust set in Paris. The Best Actress prize was claimed by Fan Bingbing, a native of China who starred in “Buddha Mountain,” Chinese director Li Yu coming-of-age story centered on a group of three friends. Chinese actor Wang Qian-yuan won Best Actor for his role in “The Piano in a Factory,” helmer Zhang Meng’s family drama set in China in the early 1990s.

“I have been an actor for 10 years,” said Qian-yuan. “This award is huge encouragement for me. Being here and winning this award is as precious for me as when I made the piano for my daughter in the film.”

This is the third 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 “Waterlife,” a 2009 documentary that shows the ongoing environmental problems occurring within the North American Great Lakes. Canadian director Kevin McMahon was pleased that the film made an impact in Asia.

“You have to take a film with a grain of salt,” said McMahon. “That is, it’s hard to judge a film. But the environment has all sorts of difficult and complicated issues, and I am glad that I was able to express a part of them through my film.”

The fest’s closing pic was Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” the Warner Bros. bank-heist film set in Boston.