The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF Japan 2014) was a resounding success for The Last Reel team and the principals from Hanuman Films as debutant Director Sotho Kulikar won the Spirit of Asia Award.
Director Sotho Kulikar, Producer Murray Pope, Executive Producers Tan Sotho and Nick Ray, and actors Ma Rynet, Dy Saveth, Sok Sothun and Hun Sophy travelled to Tokyo for the festival and had an incredible week. The world premiere was on Sunday 26 October at 14.10pm at TOHO Cinemas, Roppongi Hills, and screened to a sellout audience. A Q & A followed with the director and actors before the team rolled on to Gonpachi Restaurant in Roppongi. Famous as the inspiration for Uma Thurman’s showdown with Lucy Liu in Quentin Taratino’s ‘Kill Bill‘, celebrity diners have included Lady Gaga and Barack Obama, although not together.
Sunday saw a Kabuki performance at the famous Kabukizi Theatre in Tokyo, recently restored to its former glory. The audience was treated to ‘Shakkyo‘ (Stone Bridge) by Ichikawa Somegoro, one of Japan’s best known artists. After a brief but beautifully presented bento box for dinner, the audience enjoyed a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, complete with some hilarious boxing sequences.
After some sightseeing around Tokyo, it was time for the second screening of The Last Reel at TOHO Cinemas, Roppongi Hills. Another packed house saw a longer Q & A session with time for the audience to ask some profound questions. A celebratory dinner followed at a nearby local restaurant.
After a couple more days of sightseeing, including the famous Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest freestanding tower, and the Senso-Ji Temple, it was time for the Closing Ceremony of TIFF Japan 2014. Director Sotho Kulikar was seated in C36 right behind the Press, but there was still no clear indication of an award at this stage. After the Shogun Award was shared between film titans Tim Burton and Takeshi Kitano, it was time for the Japanese Film Splash which went to ‘100 Yen Love‘ with a special mention for ‘Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday‘.
Then came the all-important Asian Future section and the announcement of the Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center. As the presenter mentioned a country in turmoil, we dared to believe and before long Director Sotho Kulikar was bound for the stage. An emotional speech followed in which she thanked her team in Japan, Cambodia and Australia and talked about the relationship between her mother and father. She dedicated the award to Cambodia and Cambodian people everywhere and hopes that it will help inspire a new generation of filmmakers.
Other award winners on the night included ‘Borderless” with the Best Asian Future Film Award; ‘Test’ with the WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award and for Best Artistic Contribution; ‘Pale Moon‘ with the Audience Award and Rie Miyazawa as Best Actress; ‘The Mighty Angel‘ with Robert Więckiewicz as Best Actor; ‘The Lesson‘ with the Special Jury Prize; and ‘Heaven Knows What‘ with both the Best Director Award and Tokyo Grand Prix going to Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie.
It was time to celebrate after some photo calls and interviews and the party kicked off at the Academy Hills on the 49th Floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower with champagne in full flow. The team eventually made it back to the Okura Hotel and spent Saturday recovering before the long flight home to Phnom Penh.