by Chris MaGee
While we Japanese film fans get ready to make the pilgrimage to Germany for this April's Nippon Connection film festival a lot of film fans are heading back home from Germany after the 60th annual Berlin International Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday.
While the Golden Bear went to Turkish filmmaker Semih Kaplanoglu for "Bal (Honey)", and film icon Roman Polanski was awarded the Silver Bear for "Ghost Writer", Japanese film fans can be proud of Shinobu Terashima (above right) for taking home the Best Actress Award for her role in Koji Wakamatsu's Edogawa Rampo adaptation "Caterpillar". I've been in love with Terashima since seeing her in Ryuichi Hiroki's "Vibrator", and all I've been seeing from "Caterpillar" reinforces my belief that she is one of Japan's most gifted actresses at the moment.
This year was also good for Yoji Yamada (above left). The director of such classics as "The Yellow Handkerchief" and "The Hidden Blade" was on hand to receive The Berlinale Camera for his contributions to world cinema. It's sad, though, that his latest film "Otouto (About Her Brother)", which closed Berlin this year, is getting some pretty damning reviews. Wildgrounds posted some highlights of various write-ups which variously call the film "lacklustre, unashamedly old-fashioned", "run-of-the-mill", and having "few genuine laughs and zero texture". Ouch!
At least Isao Yukisada got off with a bit more praise. The "Crying Out Loud at the Center of the World" director's adaptation of Shuichi Yoshida's novel "Parade", about a group of 20-somethings in Tokyo, was awarded the top prize in the Panorama programme.