Tokyo festival lights up ‘Incense’

15-year-old Makhmalbaf gets Special Jury Award

TOKYO — Tokyo’s small but energetic second film fest, the Tokyo Filmex, presented its top nod, the Kodak Vision Award, worth $9,200 to the Chinese competition entry “Incense,” helmed by 26-year-old Ning Hao. Fourth edition of the fest wrapped Sunday.

The DV-shot film was also selected for the video competition at this year’s Locarno Intl. Film Festival.

“Incense” tells the story of a young monk in Shanxi province trying to collect money for the restoration of a Buddha statue in his temple.

Another nod went to the youngest director in the nine-picture competish lineup. Hana Makhmalbaf, 15-year-old daughter of Iranian festival darling Mohsen Makhmalbaf, drew the Special Jury Award for her feature debut “Joy of Madness,” set in Afghanistan.

The surprise winner of Filmex, which opened Nov. 22, was Hiroshi Shimizu’s 1941 pic “Ornamental Hairpin,” which took the audience award. Pic was screened during a special 10-pic retrospective honoring the 100th anniversary of Shimizu’s birth.

Filmex has established itself as Japan’s foremost and most serious festival concentrating on Asian fare. “It’s a small festival, but it has a clear vision and attracts the right people,” said one film producer guest from South Korea.

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