Kyoto — Koji Yakusho was awarded the Toshiro Mifune Award at the closing ceremony of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival, which unspooled Oct. 16-19 at locations around Japan’s ancient capital.
Named in honor of the first Japanese actor to win worldwide recognition, the prize is awarded to Japanese actors considered to have international potential. Yakusho’s overseas credits include Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Babel” (2006) and Francois Girard’s “Silk” (2007).
Earlier, veteran cinematographer and director Daisaku Kimura received the Shozo Makino Award for filmmakers who have made outstanding contributions to Japanese cinema.
Under the leadership of executive director Kazuyoshi Okuyama, a veteran producer who worked on Takeshi Kitano’s early films, and with the sponsorship of the giant Yoshimoto Kogyo talent agency, the fest has focused on spotting and nurturing new talent in a range of fields with its Creators Factory initiative, including prizes for the most promising in the categories of Art and Video.
Meanwhile, the festival has honored past contributions with its Most Respected Filmmaker Award, given to Clint Eastwood, and Most Respected Filmmaker from Paris prize, awarded to Irene Jacob to mark Kyoto’s sister city ties with Paris. Pics by both Eastwood and Jacobs were also screened at the fest.
“Our goal is to foster talent that can be active on the world stage, while providing a platform for classic works,” Okuyama said at a presser on Saturday. He mentioned plans for a film archive, but did not provide details. He also left the door open for a competition section, which was not part of this year’s plans. “We have to build a foundation first so the prizes means something,” he said.
Among the fest’s highlights this years were screenings of all thirty of Akira Kurosawa’s films from Oct. 25 to Nov. 19, a section of Japanese and Hollywood silent-era classics and the presentation of “Daimajin,” a  classic 1966 monster pic, together with the display of a 16-foot-tall statue of the film’s giant samurai in front of Kyoto City Hall.