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Winners of the awards of the 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival

Winners of the awards of the 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival were announced over the weekend and the Tokyo Grand Prix Award went to Nise – The Heart of Madness, directed by Roberto Berliner. Roberto Berliner’s exclaimed, “I wish I could speak in Portuguese but let’s see if I can find some words (in English). It was a very cruel job. I worked for 13 years on this film. I wrote and rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote because Nise is such an important person who is a revolutionary figure. Only a few people know about her so it was my responsibility to show her to the world. In life, sometimes we know that we are doing something special, and I felt that way in the making of this film.” He also expressed his deepest appreciation towards his wife and children because he had spent so little time with them while shooting his film.

The Japanese Cinema Splash Best Picture Award winner was Director Hiroshi Shoji with his film, Ken and Kazu. The 29- year-old up and coming director had transformed what was a short film into a feature film. “When I finished the short film five to six years ago, I realized there was room for more background depiction, so I made a feature film,” he explained. “I made Ken and Kazu without any financial backup. I only spent 2 million yen on the film, but TIFF chose my film and I received a prize. This proved that fair screening is conducted at TIFF and why I want TIFF to become a larger film festival.” Lastly when asked about the independent film industry in Japan, Hino commented, “I wanted to make the best film in Japan. And as I was writing the screenplay, I had a clear image of who I wanted the actors to be and how I wanted to shoot this film. It’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to do in indie filmmaking.”

The Island Funeral directed by Pimpaka Towira won the Best Asian Future Film Award. Towira shared her story behind the scenes. “This is my second feature film and it is an honor to screen it at TIFF. There are many problems in Southern Thailand at the moment, which I wanted to portray in my film. Also, I thought the heroine should be a Muslim so casting took time. Heen Sasithorn is a well-knownTahi actress who was in New York when I thought of casting her for this film. We communicated via the internet and she agreed to be in this film. Heen expressed the theme of the film just as I wanted her to. The chemistry between the actors in this film was also just perfect,” Towira reflected.

The Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center winner was A Simple Goodbye directed by Degena Yun. Line Producer Zhao Yanming spoke on behalf of the film crew at the press conference. “Degena is very happy to receive this prize since this is her first feature film. This films is Degena’s life story and the issues she had with her parents. This award will give us the opportunity to come back to Japan and shoot a film which is more than we could wish for!”

Mustafa Kara won the Award for Best Director and WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award went with his film Cold of Kalandar. He quietly commented that “I think this was one of the longest and most difficult films at TIFF this year. In Turkish, Kalandar means ‘new year’ but it also takes on the connotation of rituals and traditions in certain regions. Therefore, the title of my film can be interpreted as ‘The Coldness of Time’ or even ‘The Hardest Times’. That is, it is portraying time and the vicious cycle of life.” With such a complex theme, Kara expressed his gratitude that this film was accepted by the audience and the judges.

Family Film directed by Olmo Omerzu won the Award for Best Artistic Contribution. “I am glad and honored to win this award. I received a very warm and great response from the people of Tokyo which was surprising,” Omerzu said. His film was not a classic drama structure but he was pleased to see how open the audience was towards his film. On the theme of a parent abandoning the child, Omerzu explained, “When preparing the script, I knew people whose parents had left them at the age of 15-16. People who read the script were criticizing the parents but I think that once you become 50-60 years old, you want to start another life for yourself. So I think the theme of this film is reality.”

The Audience Award winner was the Italian film God Willing directed by Edoardo Falcone. “This is a very Italian film in spirit. I felt it was accepted lovingly at TIFF and was happy to see the audience enjoy my film. Thank you very much,” beamed Falcone. As a comedy film director, he shared what it takes to make a good movie. “Obviously you have to make people laugh! Irony is important in Italian films—irony with a touch of intelligence. But Italy makes a lot of comedy films so making something different is important. I was able to do that with this film,” he said.

The Award for Best Actress went to Gloria Pires in Nise – The Heart of Madness directed by Robert Berliner, which was also the Tokyo Grand Prix Award. Berliner expressed his joy once again. “Receiving such great prizes is something that we always expected, but there are so many good films that we only have a small percentage of winning.” He also said that even without a prize, he was already very satisfied. “When making this film, I felt like I was dealing with something special. And even if I didn’t receive this prize, I was already very happy that this film was screened at TIFF. But this film can have more appearance in the world thanks to this award. I am very excited about that. That the jury recognized the quality of my film,” Berliner said.

The complete list of winners of 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival

Tokyo Grand Prix:  Nise – The Heart of Madness (directed by Robert Berliner)
Special Jury Prize: All Three of Us (directed by Kheiron)
Award for Best Director: Mustafa Kara (Cold of Kalandar)
Award for Best Actress: Gloria Pires (Nise – The Heart of Madness)
Award for Best Actor: Roland Møller, Louis Hoffman (Land of Mine)
Award for Best Artistic Contribution: Family Film (directed by Olmo Omerzu)
WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award: Cold of Kalandar (directed by Mustafa Kara)
The Audience Award: God Willing (directed by Edoardo Falcone)

Asian Future
Best Asian Future Film Award: The Island Funeral (directed by Pimpaka Towira)
The Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center: Director Degena Yun A Simple Goodbye

Japanese Cinema Splash
Best Picture Award: Ken and Kazu (directed by Hiroshi Shoji)

Samurai Award
Director Yoji Yamada, Director John Woo

Kirin Kiki, Akihiro Hino, Suzu Hirose, Mamoru Hosoda, Lily Franky

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