8 Nov – Deliberated by a panel of judges headed by Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, Danish film, "Uncle" by Frelle Petersen beat 13 other films to take home the coveted USD30,000 Tokyo Grand Prix prize at the recently concluded Tokyo International Film Festival 2019.
"We felt we had already won when we found out we were selected to compete in the Tokyo International Film Festival," said Petersen. "We were hung over the next day, because it was such a great reason for celebrating."
When asked what the specific elements were that led to the decision for the Grand Prix selection of "Uncle", Zhang said, "It's very easy to answer your question: It is the best movie.
We all agree on that." As for the other award selections, "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."
"Uncle" follows the struggles of a young woman in rural Denmark who wants to be a veterinarian but gets caught up in taking care of her disabled elderly uncle.
The Best Director award went to Iran's Saeed Roustayi for his film "Just 6.5", centered on a conflict between a drug gang and the police, while its actor Navid Mohammadzadeh won the Best Actor award.
Nadia Tereszkiewicz, who starred in Dominik Moll's "Only the Animals", took home the Best Actress prize.
Meanwhile the Special Jury Prize went to the Ukrainian film, "Atlantis". The film's star, Andriy Rymaruk, accepted the award on behalf of the director.
"Summer Knight", You Xing's youth drama about a boy's summer staying with his grandparents, a directorial debut, had received the Asian Future Best Film Award. He commented, "This award is helping me in terms of my future endeavours. Because this is work in progress, since we haven't finished the sound mix and colour grading yet, this has given me a sense of confidence (about my filmmaking)."
The Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center had gone to Reza Jamali's directorial debut, the dark dramedy "Old Men Never Die", about a village in Azerbaijan where no one has died for 45 years. The Iranian director said, "I'm so happy to have received this award. I've just finished shooting my second film, and to be given the wonderful opportunity to be acknowledged in this way has given me faith in my own (style) to go forward in the future."
Having ran from 28 October to 5 November 2019 at Roppongi Hills Tokyo, this year's Tokyo International Film Festival drew in an audience of over 60,000.