Spain’s Medem garners gold at Tokyo Film Fest

Both honor and big bucks were awarded at the closing ceremonies of the fifth Tokyo Intl. Film Festival (TIFF) yesterday, with a Spanish director taking home the $ 160,000 gold prize.

Julio Medem, director and scripter of “Vacas” (Cows), was awarded top honors in the Young Cinema Competition–the most lucrative film fest prize for a novice director.

Lai nabs silver

The $ 80,000 silver prize went to Stan Lai, director of the Taiwanese movie “The Peach Blossom Land.” The bronze, which carried with it a $ 40,000 prize, went to Tim Robbins for his directorial debut, the political satire “Bob Roberts.”

The jury singled out Japan’s George Matsuoka for his film “Kira Kira Hikaru” (Twinkle), saying it was deserving of special recognition but, according to chairman Kees Kasander, “not in the same league as the others.”

‘White Badge’ shines

In the International Competition, which had no prize money attached, the Tokyo Grand Prix went to “White Badge” from Korea, which also won the best director prize for Chung Ji-Young. The Special Jury Prize went to “Ai Ni Tsuite, Tokyo” (About Love, Tokyo), a Japanese pic directed by Mitsuo Yanagimachi.

Mexican film “Como Agua Para Chocolate” (Like Water for Chocolate) won two honors–best actress, Lumi Cavazos, and best artistic contribution, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski.

Other awards were best screenplay, to Germany’s Helmut Dietl and Ulrich Limmer for “Schtonk,” and best actor, to Max Von Sydow for the international co-prod “The Silent Touch.”

Fest a success

TIFF organizers announced they considered both the 10-day film fest (Sept. 25 -Oct. 4) and the five-day first-ever film market (Sept. 28-Oct. 2) great successes this year. The market had 548 companies and 1,532 individuals buying and selling, and TIFF officials claim that the deals transacted here were worth 5 billion yen, or about $ 40 million.

Final film-viewing attendance figures have yet to be tallied, but officials predict a significant rise from last year’s figure of 150,000, pointing to indicators such as this year’s dozen sell-outs, vs. just two last year.

Lack of glamour

One of the fest’s big problems–lack of glamour–was further highlighted at the closing ceremonies, where only half the award recipients were on hand to accept their awards. In fact, even the governor of Tokyo sent the vice-governor in his stead to hand out the special Governor’s Awards to the top prize-winners in each category.

The situation improved only at the last minute, when producer Alain Goldman and star Gerard Depardieu put in a surprise appearance to announce the final screening — Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise.”

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