Usmonov’s ‘Heaven’ ascends in Tokyo

Pic wins Grand Prize at Filmex fest

TOKYO — Djamshed Usmonov’s “To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die” won the Grand Prize at the Tokyo Filmex fest at Sunday’s awards ceremony.

The pic, about a nervous newlywed hubby who can’t consummate the union, also picked up a Y1,000,000 ($8,621) cash prize. Tajikstani helmer Usmonov won the fest’s special jury prize for his 2002 pic “Angel on the Right.”

This year the special jury prize went to “The Other Half,” Ying Liang’s drama about a love triangle that ends in tragedy.

The Chinese helmer also won the prize in 2005 for his feature debut, “Taking Father Home.” In addition to the trophy, Ying took home $1,724 in cash and $8,621 in negative film from the award sponsor, Kodak.

The audience prize went to “Offside,” Iranian helmer Jafar Panahi’s dramady about girls caught sneaking into Iran’s 2006 World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain.

Unspooling for 10 days in Tokyo, the seventh Filmex screened nine films in its competition section.

The chairman of the five-person jury was Pusan Intl. Film Festival director Kim Dong-ho.

The fest also featured 11 special screenings, including fest opener, Jia Zhang-ke’s “Still Life,” and the closer, Tsai Ming-liang’s “I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone,” as well as a 12-pic retro devoted to the work of Kihachi Okamoto.

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