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The Grand Jury Prize and Kobayashi Audience Choice Award

The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the feature selected as the best film among this year’s festival offerings. Films are reviewed by an Official Jury made up of film makers, film professionals, writers and educators. The winning film-maker is awarded with a certificate and a cash prize of 100,000 Japanese yen.

The Kobayashi Audience Choice Award is presented to the film chosen as the festival favorite by audiences based on ballots completed at the end of each screening.

The award is named in honour of Coby and Yone Kobayashi, a second-generation nikkei couple whose vision, generosity and tireless efforts over 50 years were essential to the creation and success of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. The Kobayashi Hall, in which this festival is held, is also named after Coby and Yone. Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi’s community-mindedness and generosity of spirit supported and inspired the building of the Kobayashi Hall, the home of the Toronto Japanese Film Festival.

2018 Jury

  • Sean Buckley is a film and television veteran, and the founder/CEO of Buck Productions, a leading content creation company successful in feature films, television, branded content, documentaries, and commercials including Milton’s Secret, Another Wolfcop, Wolfcop, Defendor, Pretend We’re Kissing and upcoming features Astronaut and Making Monsters.
  • Cellin Gluck is a Japanese-American filmmaker born and raised in Japan. He was assistant director/production manager for such Hollywood hits as Black Rain, Contact, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Godzilla. His directing credits include Saidoweizu (2009), Oba: The Last Samurai (2011), and Chiune Sugihara: Persona Non Grata which screened at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival in 2016.
  • Professor Ted Goossen teaches Japanese literature and film at York University. He is the co-editor of Monkey Business International, the general editor of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories, and has published translations of works by Haruki Murakami (including his recently published story collection, Men Without Women), Hiromi Kawakami, Yukio Mishima and Yoko Ogawa among others.
  • Adrian Love is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Acquisitions at Elevation Pictures managing all aspects of theatrical distribution. Previously he served as the VP of Distribution and Operations at Entertainment One Films and the VP of Marketing and Acquisitions at Alliance Films. Adrian has released hundreds of Canadian, international & Academy Award winning films and overseen the Canadian release of films such as The Imitation Game, Room, Moonlight, and Lady Bird.
  • Alice Shih is a Toronto-based film journalist, and a member of the Toronto Film Critic Association. She is also an advisory board member and programmer of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and a regular contributor for Swedish Press. Her critique on films can also be heard on Fairchild Radio, the national Chinese radio broadcaster in Canada Her written works also include translation of the book Jia Zhangke Speaks Out, published by Bridge21 Publication.
  • Robin Smith is the owner and President of KinoSmith Inc. – Canada’s premiere boutique distribution and film marketing company – and CEO of the newly founded company Blue Ice Docs – a new distribution and equity funding company dedicated
    to non-fiction work from around the world. Robin also acts as the Cinema Programmer for the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto that is operated by the Hot Docs international Documentary Festival.
  • Katsura Sunshine (桂 三輝 Katsura Sanshain) was born in Toronto and is currently a highly popular traditional Japanese rakugo comic storyteller and television personality in Japan. He is also known in Toronto for his musical version of Aristophanes’ Clouds, Lysistrata, Assemblywomen, The Tokyo Affair, as well as children’s operas Allegra’s Magic Flute, and Orphea and the Golden Harp.

2017 Jury

  • Todd Brown founded ScreenAnarchy (originally TwitchFilm) in 2004 and the site quickly established itself as the online world’s leading source for international, independent, cult, arthouse and genre film news, review and discussion. Todd is also Director of International Programming at Fantastic Fest, a partner at XYZ Films and father to “a remarkably geeky child.”
  • Jim Slotek is a movie and TV critic, who wrote for the Toronto Sun for more than three decades. He has several critical writing awards, a Gemini nomination for comedy writing and has interviewed literally thousands of celebrities. He was the co-writer of El Dia, La Noche y los Muertos, a documentary on the Mexican Day Of The Dead that played in film festivals internationally. He will soon be teaching courses in critical writing and the craft of writing as part of Centennial College’s Arts Journalism program.
  • Dr. Michael Raine is a professor of Japanese Cinema at the University of Western Ontario. He has written and lectured extensively on Japanese Film. He is currently working on The Cinema of High Economic Growth: New Japanese Cinemas, 1955-1964, on the Japanese New Wave in the context of the youth-oriented program pictures of the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Katsura Sunshine (桂 三輝 Katsura Sanshain) was born in Toronto and is currently a highly popular traditional Japanese rakugo comic storyteller and television personality in Japan. He is also known in Toronto for his musical version of Aristophanes’ Clouds, LysistrataAssemblywomenThe Tokyo Affair, as well as two operas for children, Allegra’s Magic Flute, and Orphea and the Golden Harp.
  • Yael Strasberg is the Acquisitions Manager for Entertainment One Films Canada, the Canadian division of the industry’s largest independent, multi-territory film distributor.   Yael has been instrumental in some of eOne’s highest profile acquisitions, including Atom Egoyan’s CHLOE, animated hit THE NUT JOB, and the upcoming Canadian film BACKSTABBING FOR BEGINNERS, starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Theo James.  Yael also has a specialization in working with up and coming talent, identifying and developing relationships with new Canadian writers, directors and producers and helping them to navigate the Canadian film industry.  Prior to joining eOne in 2008, Yael held positions at Sony BMG Films and Untitled Entertainment in New York.

2016 Jury

  • Dr. Sandra Annett is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University where she teaches courses on Japanese Film and Japanese Science Fiction. She is the author of Anime Fan Communities: Transcultural Flows and Frictions
  • Liam Lacey is one of Canada’s most respected film critics who spent almost four decades as a critic at Canada’s largest national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.
  • Tim Smythe-Bishop is currently the Vice President, Theatrical for eOne Films Canada with over 30 years of experience in film exhibition, distribution and production
  • Rui Umezawa is a Toronto writer whose works include the novel The Truth About Death and Dying, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean) and Strange Light Afar; Tales of the Supernatural from Old Japan, which was chosen by the CBC as one of the Best Books of 2015
  • Akane Yamada is a Tokyo-based film and television director, screenwriter, playwright, and novelist/essayist. Her work includes the films Dogs without Names and All to the Sea

2015 Jury

  • Director Yoshihiro Nakamura (Fish Story, Snow White Murder Case)
  • CBC Metro Morning’s Film Critic Karen Gordon
  • Tokyo-based film professional Ian MacDougall
  • Joanna Miles, Marketing VP eOne Films
  • Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival director Kristine Estorninos

2014 Jury

  • Mark Schilling, Japanese film critic for The Japan Times, Japan correspondent for Variety
  • Daihachi Yoshida, Japan Academy Prize-winning director, The Kirishima Thing, Permanent Nobara, Funuke – Show Some Love You Losers
  • Sonia Sakamoto-Jog, Executive Director, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
  • Joanna Miles, Vice President Marketing, Entertainment One Films
  • Kate Scullin, Film Program Officer, The Japan Foundation, Toronto

Winners of the Kobayashi Audience Choice Award

  • 2018 – blank 13
  • 2017 – Her Love Boils Bathwater 
  • 2016 – Flying Colors
  • 2015 – Wood Job!
  • 2014 – The Eternal Zero
  • 2013 – Being Born
  • 2012 – Rebirth

Winners of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film

  • 2018 – The Scythian Lamb
  • 2017 – In This Corner of the World
  • 2016 – Being Good
  • 2015 – My Man
  • 2014 – Pecoross’ Mother and Her Days

Special Director’s Award

  • 2018 – Sekigahara
  • 2017 – Mumon – Land of Stealth
  • 2015 – Kakekomi
  • 2014 – The Snow White Murder Case
  • 2014 – The Mole Song – Undercover Agent Reiji