Japanese film “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” wins Silver Bear award at Berlinale

Filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi received the second grand jury prize on Friday at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival, marking the first time in seven years that a Japanese film has won an award at the festival.

“Guzen in Sozo” (“The Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy”), a collection of three short stories about chance and coincidence each revolving around a woman, received the Grand Jury Prize from the Bear of ‘silver by a jury of directors, who said, “In where dialogue and words usually end, the dialogue in this film has only just begun.

“This is when they go further, so deeply that, amazed and troubled, we ask ourselves: how far can this go? Hamaguchi’s words are substance, music, material, ”said the jury.

The last time Japan won an award at the Berlinale was in 2014, when Haru Kuroki won the Silver Bear for Best Actress in the movie “Chiisai Ouchi” (“The Little House”). Other recent Japanese Berlinale winners include Shinobu Terajima, who also won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. It was also the first time that a Japanese film had won an award at the Berlinale since Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” won the Golden Bear 19 years ago.

“I feel deeply happy and honored to receive this award from a jury of very experienced directors,” Hamaguchi said in a statement.

The victory adds the 42-year-old native of Kanagawa Prefecture to a list of other internationally renowned Japanese directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Naomi Kawase.

Hamaguchi’s groundbreaking 2015 feature “Happy Hour”, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival, has won awards at numerous festivals. His 2018 film “Netemo Sametemo” (“Asako I & II”) was also shortlisted for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Hamaguchi co-wrote the screenplay for the film “Wife of a Spy”, for which Kurosawa won the Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 2020.

He also directed “Drive My Car”, a film based on a short novel by Haruki Murakami due out this summer.

This year’s Golden Bear for Best Picture went to “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” by Romanian director and screenwriter Radu Jude.

The Berlinale was held virtually Monday through Friday due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The festival’s summer special, to be held in June, will allow the general public to see the selected films, also in the presence of filmmakers.

In accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is urging residents and visitors to exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, concert halls and other public spaces.

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Marie A. Evans