The Best Asian Future Film Award went to Borderless, directed by Amirhossein Asgari. Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director at the Toronto International Film Festival described the film, “Our jury was impressed by a film that tells its story of survival during war with the purest of its cinematic elements; image, gesture and time. The lead actor is a young boy and he does it without one word of dialogue.”

Director Asgari said, “I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed. But I know I would like to dedicate this film to everyone who loves peace in this world. Also, I’d like to dedicate this trophy to my family, my crew and all those who love peace. This is my first film and my first award. Thank you so much.”

The first announcement of the winning film in the Competition section was the newly established WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award. The winner was Test directed by Alexander Kott. “This is a wonderful prize because it was chosen not by jury members who are experts of the industry but by viewers. So I am truly honored. This is similar to the Audience Award I received in the past. Arigato!”

The Audience Award went to Pale Moon, directed by Daihachi Yoshida. Actress Rie Miyazawa also appeared on stage. Yoshida said, “Thank you. This prize means that the audience voted for my film. I feel the weight of the award and it’s a great encouragement for my career.”

Actress Miyazawa added, “Thank you very much. Before the release on 15 November, it’s an honour to receive this prize. I was nervous about the release but now I can be proud and I now look forward to the opening day!”

The second win for Test directed by Alexander Kott was the Award for Best Artistic Contribution. Jury Debbie McWilliams described the film as “beautiful, amusing, thought-provoking, and shocking. The design, the sound, the cinematography all contribute to this extraordinary experience.”

Director Kott said, “Film is an art of imagery. Film is about the visual artistic technology. This award was presented to us because we were able to achieve that. And I can’t forget that my artistic muse is my wife!”

Robert Luketic announced that Robert WiÄ™ckiewicz starring in The Mighty Angel won the Award for Best Actor. Luketic described the acting as “a performer whose depiction was so committed to humanity that at times you could almost feel it and smell it. This actor takes the audience through the agony and dehumanisation of full-blown alcoholism. There is unrelenting and convincing pursuit of truth and performance.”

Director Wojtek Smarzowski received the trophy on behalf of Robert WiÄ™ckiewicz. “He is busy working on a film so he couldn’t come to Tokyo. I think Robert would have liked to thank the jury members and the actors in the film,” he said.

Actress Miyazawa in Pale Moon won the Award for Best Actress. Jury member John H. Lee revealed that it was a unanimous vote. “Her acting was profound, so sensitive, yet fragile. Her eyes spoke everything. I thank her for her wonderful artistic performance.” Lee said. This was Miyazawa’s first time in seven years to have a leading role.

“I’m shaking. I was nervous after seven years, but Yoshida’s tenacity yet warm direction gave me power. If I could slice this trophy in half, I’d like to give the other half to him,” Miyazawa beamed.

Jury member Eric Khoo described the Award for Best Director film as a tight street film filled with energy. The winners were Joshua Safdie and Benny Safdie for their film, Heaven Knows What. Joshua Safdie said, “The fanaticism for life is amazing here. People believe in extremism which is all I’m interested in.” Benny Safdie also commented, “This is all thanks to the leading actor and actress. It’s a true honour to receive a prize in city of movement and speed, which is also what we want in our movies.”

The Special Jury Prize went to The Lesson directed by Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov. Hiroshi Shinagawa, the presenter of the award, said, “It’s an honour to announce this prize. This film had us on the edge of our seats and we were stressed out in a good sense. The performance of the actress was great. Her presence was everything on the screen.”

Valchanov’s commented, “I thank the co-director, my wife Kristina Grozeva!”

Actress Marguita Gosheva expressed, “It’s our fourth prize but considering that this film was made with a ‘nano’ budget, we’ve come a long way. Arigato!”

The Tokyo Grand Prix went to Heavens Knows What, directed by Joshua Safdie and Benny Safdie. President of Jury James Gunn explained why this was the winning film, “This film bursts with life about people living on the brink of death. It’s about people who are desperate to become something more, and in the process of attempting to do so, become something less. The performances seem raw, natural and real, and it belies the craftsmanship of those performances beneath that. The direction is exciting, it turns tragedy into humour and the music, in all the best ways, is disruptive and shameless.”

Joshua Safdie commented, “Two is better than one I guess! I said earlier about praising extremism and this is rather extreme. I only met Arielle a year and a half ago and this has been quite a detour. Honestly, when we got selected for TIFF, it was the most exciting news because I thought this film would react well in Tokyo with people’s love for fanaticism and extremism.”

Benny Safdie said,“We got that second watch! It’s such an honour. So much sacrifice was made to make this film and for it to be recognised.” Arielle Holmes was lost for words. “I don’t know what to say…Thank you all so much! This is amazing because when I met Joshua, I was just a homeless girl in New York City.” Caleb Landry Jones was thrilled as well. “Thank you very much! This means a lot!” 

After the awards had been presented, President of Jury James Gunn made an overall comment. “It was a great festival experience with amazing people and jury members. We got along very well despite our differences in opinions, but no one got angry no ego. We’ve been on a trip around the globe, from Poland to The Philippines to New York City and Iran and on and on! Through our travels, we’ve illuminated a lot of differences between our cultures but more importantly, we’ve illuminated how we are all the same. Each film is about how people want to love or be loved. We are all one human spirit; we merely have different ways of communicating that. Watching these films as a collection, I feel I know myself much better, and I’ve gotten to know the world a bit better. This festival is about experiencing our differences and our similarities through the joy and craftsmanship of cinema. I am grateful to the volunteers, staff, fans, press, and lastly to the city of Tokyo for its incredible hospitality. Thank you!”

Yasushi Shiina, Director General of the Tokyo International Film Festival wrapped up the ceremony, “I thank the sponsors, government sectors, ASEAN, local agencies and organisations all involved in TIFF. Also, thank the Festival Navigators, Azusa Okamoto and Harry Sugiyama, and Festival Muse, Miki Nakatani. In closing, I would like to recall the words of Prime Minister Abe on the opening day of this festival, that we are a hub for intercultural exchange between filmmakers, culture and businesses alike. We established two new awards this year to nurture young creators. So I hope TIFF will serve as a foundation for such filmmakers to flourish in the world!”