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Tokyo fest drinks in ‘Whisky’

Special jury prize awarded to Chinese 'Mountain'

TOKYO — The 17th Tokyo Intl. Film Festival wrapped Sunday with low-budget brotherhood drama “Whisky” taking the grand prize.

Pic, by Paraguayan helming duo Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, garnered $100,000 in award money — about a fifth of the film’s budget. Pic’s Mirella Pascual took the actress award.

Among an uninspiring competish lineup, the special jury award went to Chinese entry “Kekexili: Mountain Patrol,” by Lu Chuan. Film depicts the fate of volunteers trying to save endangered wildlife in the Qinghai province bordering Tibet.

South Koreans took a fair share of awards, with Im Chang-sang’s “The President’s Barber” winning the director honor in the main competition, “Possible Changes,” by Min Byung-kook, scooped the Winds of Asia sidebar laurel.

Six-member main competish jury was headed by helmer Yoji Yamada and included Korean director Lee Chang-dong, helmer Shekhar Kapur, Toronto film fest chief Piers Handling and French thesp Virginie Ledoyen.

Keen to re-establish itself as a leading fest in Asia after years of looking on as the Pusan Film Festival became the regional leader, the TIFF launched two separate markets this year, despite local industry concerns about the timing between Pusan, Mifed and this week’s AFM.

The Tokyo Intl. Entertainment Market, concentrating on animation and music an held some 20 miles away from the main event, was a mostly Japanese affair, with many questioning the reason for having it in the first place.

The Tokyo Intl. Film & Contents Market had more international visitors, if mostly from neighboring countries.

Although the TIFF, which opened Oct. 23, doled out generous invitation packages, precious few showed up to buy. “It’s a very modest beginning,” said one exhibitor.

Still, one major deal between South Korea and Japan was rumored to have taken place, with announcements to be made at AFM.

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