FESTIVALS: Hope, The Pencil TAKE top prizes at Japan’s Skip City

Maria Sodahl’s Hope received the Grand Prize in the International Competition of this year’s Skip City International D-Cinema Festival in Japan, which took place virtually and wrapped on October 4. 

The Norway-Sweden co-production, which is based on the director’s own experiences, tells the story of a woman with six children waiting to receive a cancer diagnosis. “I thought the director herself is asking the question of ‘living’ by snuggling up with the protagonist,” said Japanese filmmaker Masa Sawada, who served as jury president. 

Meanwhile, Russian filmmaker Natalya Nazarova’s The Pencil was awarded both best director and the Special Jury Prize, marking the first time that one film has won multiple awards in the International Competition in the history of the festival. 

In the Japanese Film Competition, Anshul Chauhan’s Kontora won best picture in the feature film category, while Stay, directed by Naoya Fujita, won best picture in the short film section. 

Takeshi Kushida’s Woman Of The Photographs was presented with the Skip City Award, which is given to a Japanese filmmaker whose next feature project is highly anticipated. 

Audience Awards went to Ben Lawrence’s Hearts And Bones in the International Competition, and Teppei Isobe’s Cornflakes in the Japanese Film Competition.

Launched in 2004 in Kawaguchi City in Saitama Prefecture, the festival aims to discover and nurture new talent.