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‘Poppoya’ goes first-class in Japanese movie awards

Pic takes most major awards, 'Sense' wins foreign nod

TOKYO — “Poppoya,” a sentimental story of a small-town station master, rode the express train through the 23rd edition of Japan’s key movie awards Friday night, picking up best picture and a slew of other kudos. “The Sixth Sense” won best foreign-language film.

“Poppoya” (The Railway Man), from studio Toei, took all the major awards, including best director, actor and actress, as well best supporting actor.

The star of the film, 69-year-old veteran Ken Takakura, picked up his fourth best actor prize for his portrayal of a station master in Japan’s frozen northern country reliving a painful love story. Takakura previously won best actor kudos at last year’s Montreal World Film Festival for “Poppoya.”

Homegrown hit

The Japanese awards do not traditionally provide any box office gain for winners, but “Poppoya” was a bit of an anomaly in the Japanese film industry in that it was one of the few films made by a major studio that actually did well at the box office. Japan’s major studios make only a handful of films each year and most do not generate much at the box office. “Poppoya” took in about $15 million, making it a blockbuster by local film standards.

Among the other Japanese movies that fetched awards were the banking scandal film “Jubaku,” Takeshi Kitano’s “Kikujiro no Natsu” and “The Owl’s Castle.”

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