The 30th Tokyo International Film Festival came to an end Friday, with a sci-fi film by Turkish director about a near-future world suffering food shortage and other crises winning the top prize.
"Grain," directed by Semih Kaplanoglu, tells the story of a gene scientist-cum-professor's journey to search for a grain to save humanity amid a shortage of food in the world.
The black-and-white film, a co-production of Turkey, Germany, France, Sweden and Qatar, depicts a world also struggling with a refugee crisis and environmental destruction.
In his acceptance speech during the festival's closing ceremony, Kaplanoglu said he is "honored" and "excited" to be given the award. He said that as a filmmaker, he wants to use the power of films in raising questions about contemporary issues in the world.
"Many destructive things are happening in the world, for example, excessive consumption," he said through a Turkish-Japanese interpreter, adding that there is a need to reflect on where people are heading.
The 10-day festival, showcasing films mainly in Tokyo's Roppongi district, wrapped up with a screening of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's new climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power."
The film depicts his continued fight against global warming and the current challenges the world faces.
Gore, who graced the closing ceremony ahead of the movie's release in Japanese theaters on Nov. 17, said, "I hope that you will enjoy this movie."
The environmental activist went on to say, "But I hope you will also see it and feel it as a challenge personally to become part of the solution to the climate crisis."
Gore, who won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with a U.N. panel on climate change, is shown in the sequel trying to create future leaders to fight climate change. The film also shows behind-the-scene footage of his role behind the landmark 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
The film, directed by Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen, is a follow-up to "An Inconvenient Truth," an Oscar-winning film released in 2006.
Incidentally, Gore's longtime friend and award-winning U.S. director and actor, Tommy Lee Jones, was head of a five-member jury for the festival's main competition section.
In announcing the Tokyo Grand Prix winner, Jones said the jury unanimously chose "Grain" for its "beautiful photography" and "presentation of myth as reality or maybe, say, the reality of myth."
"We were certainly impressed by this movie's appreciation of a common understanding among all people through a shared mythic experience," Jones said.
"Grain" was among 15 entries vying for the top award. The works were selected from 1,538 titles from 88 countries and regions in Asia, including Japan, as well as Europe and the Middle East.
Edmund Yeo from Malaysia won the best director award for his film "Aqerat (We the Dead)," depicting the plight of the persecuted Rohingya minority group in Myanmar to Malaysia.
Jury member and Iran's director Reza Mirkarimi said the film was selected due to the "creative choosing of a proper form and believable approach to a human subject of today."
Yeo said, "I just want to ask questions with this film because the Rohingya flight is still happening right now. And I don't have answers." He added that he wishes the "killings would stop."
"I wish that in this crazy world, we can finally find a measure of peace," Yeo said.
The best actor award went to China's Duan Yihong of "The Looming Storm," a Chinese suspense film, while Adeline D'Hermy of "Maryline," a film from France took the best actress award.
"Passage of Life," directed by Akio Fujimoto, won the best film award from the Asian future film section, which showcased 10 films from budding directors in Asia and the Middle East. The work followed the story of a family from Myanmar living in Japan with two sons who cannot speak their native tongue.
Of the two Japanese films entered in the competition section, "Tremble All You Want," a romantic comedy directed by Akiko Ooku snared the audience award.
Its lead character, Japanese actress Mayu Matsuoka, was also one of the four recipients of the Tokyo Gemstone Award, a newly created prize honoring promising actors and actresses in the festival. Daphne Low, the lead actress of "Aqerat (We the Dead), was also among the awardees.
The Special Jury Prize went to Italy's "Crater," a story about a father's effort to make his daughter a star singer.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike was also present at the ceremony, where she had a brief conversation onstage with Gore.