LOS ANGELES – Japanese film “Okuribito” (“Departures”) won the Oscar for best foreign-language film, while Japanese entry “Tsumiki no Ie” was chosen as best animated short film at the 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony Sunday.
Directed by Yojiro Takita, “Okuribito” depicts the dignity of life and death through the eyes of its protagonist, who makes his living placing bodies into coffins.
The film, which won the grand prix at the Montreal World Film Festival last summer, has received critical acclaim both within and outside of Japan.
It is the first time since 1956 that a Japanese film won the Oscar in this specific category.
Born in Toyama Prefecture in 1955, Takita started his career by making adult films. His 2002 sword action film “Mibu Gishi Den” (“When the Last Sword is Drawn”) was chosen the best picture of the Japan Academy Prize.
At the Oscars ceremony, Takita expressed gratitude to those who were involved in creating the award-winning film.
The animated film “Tsumiki no Ie” (“The House of Small Cubes”), directed by Kunio Kato, is a 12-minute film that portrays the life of an old man who tries to keep rising water caused by global warming out of his house.
Kato commented on his award, “I am happy that I could receive such a grand award.”
Born in 1977 in Kagoshima Prefecture, Kato started creating animation films while he was a student at Tama Art University in Tokyo and has released several works via the Internet and TV.
The film has already won a number awards, including the top prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival last year in France.
Winners of the Academy Awards are annually selected in a vote by the roughly 5,800 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the host organization of the awards.
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