FESTVALS: Ayka wins grand prize at Tokyo Filmex

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Sergey Dvortsevoy’s Russian-Kazakh drama Ayka won the grand prize at this year’s Tokyo Filmex (November 17-25), while Pema Tseden’s Jinpa took the special jury prize.

Ayka, a co-production between Russia, Germany, Poland, Kazakhstan and China, tells the story of a Kyrgyz woman in Moscow who, after abandoning her new-born baby, attempts to find work to clear her debts. It premiered in competition at Cannes where it won best actress.

Jinpa, which premiered at Venice film festival, is a a Tibetan-language drama produced by Wong Kar Wai’s Jet Tone Films.

Among other awards, Japanese filmmaker Nanako Hirose’s His Lost Name won a special mention from the jury, while Kei Chikaura’s China-Japan co-production Complicity took the audience award. Chinese filmmaker Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night was presented with the Student Jury Prize.

Japanese conglomerate Kinoshita Group took over the management and partial funding of Tokyo Filmex earlier this year after its previous organiser Office Kitano withdrew from the festival.

Office Kitano, the agency and production company co-founded by leading actor-filmmaker Takeshi Kitano, had managed the festival since its launch in 2000. However, the company is being restructured after Kitano announced in March that he was quitting to go independent.

This year’s Filmex screened 40 films, including seven shorts, and had 52 filmmakers in attendance. Audience numbers increased by 26% to 13,662.