Winners of the Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival 2016


We present the list of winners of the 17th Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival that took place from November 19th – 27th in Tokyo, Japan.

Grand Prize

Life After Life2Life After Life by Zhang Hanyi – China | 2016 – 80 min.

Among the eerily sparse landscapes of a soon-to-be-demolished rural village lives young Leilei (Zhang Li). He becomes possessed by the spirit of his late mother, who tells Leilei’s father Mingchun (Zhang Mingjun) that she’s returned to salvage the tree that stands outside their former home. Together they embark on an epic quest, navigating expansive forests, dilapidated houses and anonymous industrial wastelands in sequences marked by absurd humour and striking imagery. Sharing common themes of socio-economic upheaval and globalisation with producer Jia Zhangke’s (Still Life, SFF 2007) own dramas, Life After Life is a bold, formally daring film that marks the emergence of a fresh new talent in Chinese cinema.

What the jury said: A remarkable original first feature by a man who wanted to be a footballer before he became a director! This film explores the slow, painful death of villages in the Chinese countryside ― without sentimentality or easy nostalgia. And it does so with a startling gender twist. Each image burns itself into the memory


Special Jury Prize

burning-birdsBurning Birds by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara – France, Sri Lanka | 2016 – 84 min.

Set in a small northern Sri Lankan village in 1989, Burning Birds is a film critical of society. Director Sanjieewa Pushpakumara considers this society in which social violence is inflicted upon a female breadwinner. After an illegal militant group kills her husband, ordinary housewife Kusum does anything to support her eight children and her mother-in-law. However, there is not only a huge amount of work to do for a poor and powerless working class widow, but she also has to endure the contempt and surliness of a male-oriented society. She finally loses the last vestiges of dignity when she is driven to prostitution and in the end, she makes a truly extreme choice.

What the jury said: This Film is a loud cry of pain from a cruel civil war of the late 1980s. It shares the perspective of one woman, a wife who loses her husband and a mother whose struggle to hold her family together ultimately costs her the respect of her children. An under-reported story from yesterday is made urgently relevant in the modern world.


Special Mention

the-world-of-usThe World of Us by Yoon Gaeun – South Korea | 2015 – 95 min.

Sun is a quiet girl from a poor family, always chosen last for sports teams at school and picked on by her classmates despite her agreeable and kind nature. As luck would have it, she bumps into Jia, a new transfer student, on the last day of the term and they spend the summer break together. As Sun shows Jia around the neighborhood and they play at each other’s houses and share secrets, they become best friends. Sun is fascinated by exciting stories of Jia’s affluent jet-setting family, while Jia admires Sun’s skilled fingers, her braided bracelets and the nail polish she makes herself from crushed flower petals. But when the new school year begins, everyday reality puts their relationship to the test.

What the jury said: For her ability to tell a story and express the feelings of her young characters in a very sensitive and simple way. The director has successfully used close-up shots of the children in a way that captures our heart. To encourage a very promising debut of a young female director.


Student Jury Prize

Pamilya OrdinaryoOrdinary People by Eduardo Roy Jr. – Philippines | 2016 – 107 min.

Ordinary People is a family portrait of Jane, 16, and her boyfriend, Aries, who live on their own in the chaotic streets of Manila. Surviving as pickpockets, the lives of the young couple change when they suddenly become teenage parents. But not even a month into parenthood, their child is stolen from them. In order to retrieve the child, the young couple is forced to take desperate measures.

What the jury said: What is “normal”? The concept of normality hangs around us for as long as we live. However, this film makes us aware that this concept is merely a subjective one. Love, and a parent’s love for their child, are universal emotions. This film depicts emotions that we all share, regardless of the environments in which we were born and raised, and most of all, its view of the world is utterly absorbing. What’s more, it stresses the importance of entertainment that also raises awareness of important issues. We hope that viewers will reconsider the meaning of what it is to be “normal” through this superb film. What is “normal”?


Audience Award

the-world-of-usThe World of Us by Yoon Gaeun – South Korea | 2015 – 95 min.

To know more about this festival please visit the FESTIVAL PROFILE or go to the official webpage of the festival HERE.

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