By Mark Schilling

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The Beasts,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s psychological thriller about a French couple who come to live a peaceful life in Spain’s Galician countryside, but get a less than warm welcome from the locals, won the Tokyo Grand Prix at the 35th Tokyo International Film Festival at Tuesday night’s closing ceremony.

The festival, which unspooled Oct. 24 to Nov. 2 at venues in central Tokyo, also awarded Sorogoyen Best Director honors and named “The Beasts” star Denis Menochet best actor.

The film, which premiered out of competition at Cannes this year, opened in French theaters in July. The Japan release has yet to be announced, however.

Winning the second-place Special Jury Prize was Iranian director Houman Seyedi’s satirical drama “World War III.” At its premiere in this year’s Venice Film Festival Horizon’s section it won Best Film, while lead Mohsen Tanabandeh took the Best Actor prize. The film’s Japan release has also yet to be decided.

Best actress honors went to Aline Kuppenheim for her portrayal of a woman sheltering a man under threat from Chile’s Pinochet dictatorship in Manuela Martelli’s “1976.”

The award for best artistic contribution was given to Sri Lankan director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara’s “Peacock Lament,” while the audience award went to Rikiya Imaizumi’s “By the Window,” one of three Japanese entries in the Competition.

According to festival organizers, admissions nearly doubled from last year’s edition, jumping from 29,414 to 59,541. Another indication of a return to pre-pandemic normality: The number of overseas guests rose to 104, compared with only 8 in 2021.

Meanwhile, the number of films directed by women or non-binary people totaled 14.8%, or 25 of the 169 films screened.  As a sign that TIFF is keeping pace with local trends, women directors accounted for 12% of all feature films released in Japan in 2020, according to a study by the activist group Japan Film Project, while the similar figure for the 2000 to 2020 period was 3%.


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