Diversity marks TIFF awards

Award winners at the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival. Photos © 2019 TIFF

The 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival concluded earlier this week, with Frelle Petersen's Uncle from Denmark taking home the top Tokyo Grand Prix/Governor of Tokyo award. The drama, which had its world premiere in Tokyo, is about a young woman's life as she cares for her elderly, disabled uncle in rural Denmark.

Jury president, Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, commended the film, praising it as the unanimous best for the jury members that stood out from the 14 films from all over the world selected to compete this year.

"The 14 films in competition really represented a wide diversity -- not just artistic films, but films like the Japanese comedy A Beloved Wife, as well as artistic films like the French film Only The Animals. The quality of all the films was wonderful, with wonderful performances. We felt it was a very rich selection," Zhang said during a press conference held after the festival's closing ceremony.

As for other awards, Ukrainian film Atlantis won the Special Jury Prize. The dystopian drama sees a traumatised veteran picking up the pieces after the end of war in the near future.

Just 6.5 from Iran won Best Director for filmmaker Saeed Roustaee. The film captures the showdown between the Iranian police and a drug gang. Its leading star Navid Mohammadzadeh also won Best Actor.

Frelle Petersen, centre, brought his Uncle team onstage to receive the Tokyo Grand Prix/The Governor of Tokyo Award.

Dominik Moll's Only The Animals won Audience Award for its romantic suspense set in France's snowy region. Nadia Tereszkiewicz won Best Actress for her role in the film.

Chaogtu With Sarula, featuring a couple living on the Chinese Mongolian prairie, won Best Artistic Contribution.

A Beloved Wife, a Japanese comedy about a writer and his family, won Best Screenplay.

The Chinese tale about a boy's summer experience saw Summer Knight win Asian Future Best Film award.


The Spirit of Asia award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center went to Reza Jamali's Old Men Never Die, which is about a group of rural men living in a village where no one has died for decades.

The Japanese Cinema Splash awards honouring independent Japanese films went to i-Documentary Of The Journalist for Best Film, while Hirobumi Watanabe from Cry won Best Director.

Tokyo Gemstone awards, given to promising young actors appearing in films showing at the festival, went to Josefine Frida, Sairi Ito, Riru Yoshina and Yui Sakuma.

Veteran Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai and writer-director Nobuhiko Obayashi were recognised with the Lifetime Achievement award.

Saeed Routaee, director of Just 6.5.

A total of 180 films were screened at TIFF 2019, with over 65,000 people attending the screenings during the nine-day festival. It opened with the world premiere of Tora-san, Wish You Were Here by Yoji Yamada.

This year's TIFF Plus section also saw a focus on Japan's vivid animation scene, with the screening of classics like The White Snake Enchantress from 1958 to modern hits led by Makoto Shinkai's Weathering With You.