Dvortsevoy's drama wins Grand Prix

“Tulpan,” Sergey Dvortsevoy’s drama of a young shepherd’s attempts to woo and win a bride on the Kazakh steppes, took the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix, the highest prize awarded at the 21st Tokyo Film Festival.

The prize comes with a $100,000 cash award.

In presenting the prize at Tokyo’s Bunkamura Orchard Hall on Sunday, jury chairman Jon Voight told the crowd the pic was a unanimous choice among jurors.

“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,” Voight said.

Dvortsevoy, a maker of prize-winning shorts before graduating to features with “Tulpan,” also took home the fest’s director honors.

Among other prizes awarded in the 15-pic competition section were the special jury prize for Jerzy Skolimowski’s “4 Nights With Anna,” the audience award for Tetsu Maeda’s “School Days With a Pig” and the artistic contribution nod for Francois Dupeyron’s “With a Little Help From Myself.” Actor kudos went to Vincent Cassel for his turn in “Public Enemy No. 1” and actress to Felicite Wouassi for her work in “With a Little Help From Myself.”

Helmers Nikita Sergeyevich Mikhalkov and Chen Kaige were on hand to receive the Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement, given to filmmakers who carry on the spirit of Kurosawa’s work.

The Toyota Earth Grand Prix, a prize started this year to underline the fest’s new green theme, went to “Ashes From the Sky,” a Spanish eco-comedy helmed by Jose Antonio Quiros.

The U.S.-U.K. docu “The Meerkats” drew the special award, and the school drama “School Days With a Pig” received the jury award from a panel headed by fest chairman Tom Yoda that considered pics from all the major sections, including the new “natural TIFF” section of eco pics in various genres.

In the Winds of Asia-Middle East section, which unspooled new and classic pics from the Middle and Far East, the film nod went “My Marlon and Brando,” Turkish helmer Huseyin Karabey’s drama of a Turkish actress and Iraqi actor who fall in love but are separated by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile, special mentions went to Jiang Wen’s “The Sun Also Rises,” Ann Hui’s “The Way We Are” and Yasmin Ahmad’s “The Convert.”

In the Japanese Eyes section, which screened 10 new Japanese pics, recently deceased helmer Jun Ichikawa’s posthumous drama “Buy a Suit” drew picture honors. A special award was presented to veteran thesp Ittoku Kishibe for his perf as half of an offbeat middle-aged couple in Fujiro Mitsuishi’s “Osaka Hamlet.”

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