Comedies were high on the hog at this year's Tokyo International Film Festival.
31 Oct 2011 - 5:15 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:09 PM

The French film Untouchable, directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, has taken out the grand prize at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival. The presentation ceremony was part of closing night, held on Sunday.

The film is based on the true story of a crazy friendship between a rich aristocrat, who became paralysed from the neck down in a paragliding accident, and the young streetwise ex-prisoner who acts as his carer. Both actors, François Cluzet and Omar Sy, shared the prize for best actor.

Glenn Close won the best actress award for Albert Nobbs, in which she plays the title role of a butler in a fancy Dublin hotel who has passed herself off as a man for 30 years in order to survive poverty and loneliness. Distributor Hopscotch is releasing the film, which also stars Australian actress Mia Wasikowska as a housemaid, into Australian cinemas from boxing day. This timing indicates that distributor Hopscotch has a lot of faith in the picture.

The Woodsman and the Rain, the only Japanese film among the competition titles and only the second film from Shuichi Okita, won the special jury prize. It follows the development of a relationship between a lumberjack, whose world is invaded by a film crew, and the young director who is meant to be in charge of the zombie movie they are shooting.

When Pigs Have Wings (pictured), about a poor Palestinian fisherman who catches a big black pig and then has to dispose of what is regarded as a very impure animal in his culture, won the audience award. It was the directorial debut of Sylvain Estibal and stars Sasson Gabai from The Band's Visit.

Judged by the trailers and reviews, all the films mentioned have strong comic elements but this was not common to all the prize winners. The naturalistic Play, which earned Ruben Östlund the top prize in the directing category, is billed in the program as “a challenging, terrifying drama about black youths scamming white children that twists stereotypes and exposes fear and prejudices”. It is set in Gothenburg in Sweden and is based on real-life cases that occurred between 2006 and 2008.

Among the other winners were Filipino drama Trespassers, which took out the award for best Asian-Middle East film, and a black and white drama aimed at youth audiences, which won the section for home-grown films.

Meanwhile, the feature winners in the Arab Film Competition of the 3rd Doha Tribeca Film Festival were announced on Saturday night. They were Merzak Allouache's Normal and Namir Abdel Messeeh's The Virgin, The Copts and Me (best narrative film and best documentary respectively), Rania Stephan for The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni and Roschdy Zem for Omar Killed Me (best documentary and narrative director respectively) and Sami Bouajila, also for Omar Killed Me (best performance). Nadine Labaki's Lebanese film Where Do We Go Now? won the audience award. The modern fable is about a group of Muslim and Christian women who band together in an attempt to defuse mounting religious tensions. Just as in her directorial debut Caramel, writer/director Labaki is on screen as well as behind the camera.

The full list of winners from Tokyo are:

Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix: Untouchable
Special Jury Prize: The Woodsman and the Rain
Best Director: Ruben Östlund, Play
Best Actress: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Best Actor: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Untouchable
Best Artistic Contribution: Kora and Detachment
Audience Award: When Pigs Have Wings
Earth Grand Prix: The Mirror Never Lies
Earth Grand Prix Special Jury Prize: Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award: Trespassers
Winds of Asia-Middle East, Special Mention: The Mirror Never Lies, TATSUMI and The Robot
Japanese Eyes, Best Picture Award: About the Pink Sky