Sayonara Nihon

10 days as past and my virgin trip to the land of the rising sun was much more than just an eye opener. Autumn was the season of choice with its cool breeze and sometime chilly morning, it was a 180 degree situation from what we have in Singapore. From hot meal vending machines to timely train schedules, I was pretty much impress by what i experienced in Japan. As so was by the whole film festival. This being the 2nd major film festival attended to date, Tokyo seems to top it off with its professional coverage and detailed attention to all corners of the festival. Everyone was attended to and the flow of such event went on so smoothly, it looked effortless. Kudos to the management and organizer of the Tokyo Film Festival, you have definitely won me over. Japan has won me over and i will be back. In fact, I'm missing it already.

To all who have been following me through the duration of the festival online in this blog, a big thank you for logging on and i hope you've enjoyed the coverage plus snippets of Japan itself. You may be wondering where else will we be next year? Well stay tuned to as we surf you around the world of film. May it be reviews, press conferences or news bites, is the number one choice to keep you updated.

For now, this is Lokman signing off.


Winners showcase

Want to know how the winners felt after the awards? Lets find out!

Director Sergey Dvortsevoy (“TULPAN”)

I was born in Kazakhstan. After I finished aviation school, I worked as a radio operator. One day I came across an ad for a film school where I met many Kazakh actors. Leading actor Askhat Kuchinchirekov is not a professional actor. Leading actress Samal Yeslyamova is a professional stage actress. I will probably shoot my next film in Moscow, but later, I plan to return to Kazakhstan to make movies about Russians living in Kazakhstan. Many children appeared in “TULPAN”, but I am very sorry for the death of one of the boys who drowned while fishing with his father.

Samal Yeslyamova (“TULPAN”)

I’m from Kazakhstan but have never lived in a place where this movie takes place. The environment and climate of the location site was very different from where I grew up so it wasn’t easy, but it certainly was a valuable experience.

Askhat Kuchinchirekov (“TULPAN”)

The most important thing for an actor is to confide in the director; a trust so deep and strong that he can trust his life with him. I did everything the director wanted me to do, which I believe I was able to express on screen.

Director Testu Maeda (“School Days with a Pig”)

Maeda won two awards in the Competition section, but he said, “I was actually going for four awards, just like the film “What the Snow Brings”, in the 18th TIFF (laugh). I guess I have a long way to go...” When asked about the pig in his film, he said, “Birds are easy to take care of, but not pigs! But the small pigs were so charming, they felt like a being of life itself. Although I know they are destined to be slaughtered, I think they are very adorable.”

Director José Antonio Quirós (“Ashes from the Sky”)

It’s a contradiction that although we love nature, we can’t live without technology. Nature is being sacrificed in the name of civilization and it’s time for us to think about how we’re going to change this. It is vital that we look for a compromise. That is the theme of my movie.

Jon Voight, President of the Jury

Each of us contributed to the decision of the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix Award. Something was said early on in our discussions. We said it’s not about giving everybody an award; it’s about being true to what we really think is appropriate for the ‘real’ award. “TULPAN” was a unanimous decision. And that really says a lot because we had other films that we
were really impressed with. But there was something so special about this film. Then, when we came to the idea of the director, we said, well, the director we feel is the most impressive should be “TULPAN”. So, that’s how we arrived at our decision. It was a matter of being honest about it.

TIFF Closing Ceremony

It was a beautiful evening at the Bunkamura Orchard Hall. Although heavy clouds threatened with a little rain drops, that, didn't hold the grand event up as they always say, "The show must go on". Fortunately, little rain drops was all it was. Keeping up with the ecology theme of the green carpet, a sea of green was laid upon the ground as the guest stride upon to grace the event. After an exciting nine day event of non stop film screenings, press conferences and guest appearance, the 21st Tokyo International Film Festival closes its curtain today with a bang as they rolled out the winners of the competition. Opening the event was Chairman of Tokyo International Film Festival, Tatsumi Yoda, who commented:

"I’d like to say how honored I am to speak in front of all these people whom I respect highly. The 21st Tokyo International Film Festival which began on the Green Carpet on Saturday, October 18th has flown by and we are already at the Closing Ceremony. As you know, the theme of this event was ecology and environment. Protecting the environment is something we must do seriously. We hope to continue to use the Green Carpet as a message to the world to protect our environment. Tomorrow, we will start working toward the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival. My plan is to continue with the theme of ecology by making a “Green Carpet Club”. I hope you will all join us next year. Thank you and ‘Action! for Earth’!!"

Also present was actor and President of the Jury, Mr. Jon Voight commented:

"It was an honor to go through with the judging with such great masters of the film industry. The films made me rethink about the love of people and I was deeply touched. Art is all about love. The Sakura Grand Prix Award was chosen unanimously. We all considered this film to be surpassing all artistic achievement. We the jurors live in highly complicated and sophisticated worlds, but in this story, this struggling nomad family made us discover our hearts and our identities. I’d like to extend my deepest respect to all the films screened here at the Tokyo International Film Festival."

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Akira Kurosawa Award
  • Nikita Sergeyevich Mikhalkov (director)
  • Chen Kaige (director)
Japanese Eyes
  • Special Award: Ittoku Kishibe (actor, “Osaka Hamlet”)
  • Best Picture Award: “buy a suit” (directed by Jun Ichikawa)
Winds of Asia-Middle East
  • Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award: “My Marlon and Brando” (directed by Huseyin Karabey)
  • Special Mention: “The Sun Also Rises” (directed by Jiang Wen), “The Way We Are” (directed by Ann Hui),
  • “The Convert” (directed by Yasmin Ahmad)
TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix
  • Special Award: “THE MEERKATS” (directed by James Honeyborne)
  • Jury Award: “School Days with a Pig” (directed by Tetsu Maeda)
  • TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix: “Ashes from the Sky” (directed by José Antonio Quirós)
  • The Audience Award: “School Days with a Pig” (directed by Tetsu Maeda)
  • Award for Best Artistic Contribution: “With a Little Help From Myself”
  • Award for Best Actor: Vincent Cassel (“Public Enemy No. 1 (Part 1 & 2)”)
  • Award for Best Actress: Felicite Wouassi (“With a Little Help From Myself”)
  • Award for Best Director: Sergey Dvortsevoy (“TULPAN”)
  • Special Jury Prize: “4 Nights with Anna” (directed by Jerzy Skolimowski)
  • Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix: “TULPAN” (directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy)

Congratulations to all!

Off to Mt Fuji

All work and no play makes us guys really bored. And so for the next 2 days, we're heading up to Kawaguchiko, also known as the Mt Fuji area, for a little break. Don't worry, we'll be back with the closing event of the Tokyo International Film Festival. I'm pretty sure a little travel update would be a good reading break for you guys.

Claustrophobia - Press Conference

2pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: Claustrophobia
Story: A love story about an office love affair in a mellow atmosphere. Directorial debut by a well-known script writer of {Comrades, Almost a Love Story} (1996). Sophisticated images leave lasting impressions.
Present: Ivy Ho (Director), Karena Lam (Cast), Ekin Cheng (Cast)

[ View the whole press conference above. ]