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Japan Academy Awards Hand Top Honor to Indie Hit ‘Midnight Swan’ While ‘Fukushima 50’ Triumphs

Fukushima

The 44th Japan Academy Film Prize ceremony was held on Friday at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takawana in Tokyo, despite a state of emergency still in force on the nation’s capital.

One big winner was Uchida Eiji’s gay-themed drama “Midnight Swan” with took the best picture prize, while star Kusanagi Tsuyoshi was awarded best actor honors for his turn as an ageing transgender nightclub performer.

Meanwhile, best actress went to Nagasawa Masami for her portrayal of an unreliable and domineering single mom in Omori Tatsushi’s “Mother.”

Also, Wakamatsu Setsuro was named best director for “Fukushima 50″ (pictured), a true-story drama that recreated the chaos and confusion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after a powerful tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused reactor meltdowns. “Fukushima 50” also won four technical prizes, including best cinematography.

As widely expected, best animation honors went to “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train,” a period action anime based on a hit comic and TV show that became the highest-earning film of all time in the Japanese market. The film also picked up the best sound prize and the popularity award.

The best foreign film was Bong Joon-ho’s black comedy “Parasite,” which also won best picture at the 2020 Oscars.

The Japan Academy Film Prizes, which have been awarded annually since 1978, are modeled on the U.S. Academy Awards, though some categories differ.

Also, the nominees are selected by industry professionals, including employees at major film companies — a weighting that has tended to favor hit commercial releases over critically acclaimed indies. Best picture winner “Midnight Swan” falls in the latter category, though it was a runaway hit, earning more than $7 million at the box office.