Announcing Our Grand Prize and Audience Choice Award Winners 2019

The Toronto Japanese Film Festival is pleased to announce the winners of our Grand Jury Prize for Best Film and Kobayashi Audience Choice Award.

The Kobayashi Audience Choice award went to Shinobu Yaguchi’s DANCE WITH ME which utterly charmed a sold out crowd at our world premiere screening. Mr. Yaguchi also received a Special Director’s Award for his consistently excellent contributions to our festival.

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Film was shared by two films as our judges felt both were particularly strong and deserving of recognition. Those films are Toshiyuki Teruya’s BORN BONE BORN and Junji Sakamoto’s ANOTHER WORLD.

Shinobu Yaguchi‘s


Toshiyuki Teruya‘s

Junji Sakamoto‘s

The Grand Jury Prize judges were:

THOM ERNST is a film writer and broadcaster and member of the Toronto Film Critic’s Association. His reviews can be seen every Friday night on CTV National News. Thom has written for the Toronto Star, Playback Magazine, and The National Post. He is also a frequent voice on CBC Radio Fresh Air, CBC Radio Syndication, Metro Morning, CFRB’s Entertainment Extra, Extra with Richard Crouse and The Pay Chen Show. Thom was formerly host and producer of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies. You can also read and watch Thom’s reviews at

DR. SHARON HAYASHI specializes in Japanese cinema and media studies at York University. Her research focuses on the intersection of visual culture and history. Professor Hayashi’s teaching and research areas include: film history, historiography and criticism; critical theory; gender and media; digital activism; digital mapping; transnationalism and globalization; colonial, post-colonial and diasporic cinemas; travelling and regional cinemas; and East Asian cinema and media. She has published articles on Japanese pink cinema and the travel films of Shimizu Hiroshi, and is currently creating Mapping Protest Tokyo, a historical mapping website that analyzes the new media work of artistic collectives and new social movements in relation to artistic performance and political protest in Japan and globally.

MARK SCHILLING is a Japan-based journalist, translator and film critic for The Japan Times, Variety and Screen International. He is the author of The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture, Contemporary Japanese Film, The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films, and No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema. Mark is also the Japanese program advisor to the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy.

ALICE SHIN is a Korean-born filmmaker who received her formal film training at Nihon University, Japan and began her career with NHK Broadcasting. Since then, she has worked in Japan, Korea and the USA as a director, producer and editor. Her work has screened at international film festivals, including Cine Rail International Film Festival (France) and Jeonju International Film Festival (Korea), Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Canada) and has been showcased on major networks like Fuji TV (Japan). Currently, Ms. Shin lives in Canada making independent films. Her most recent film, Haru’s New Year follows a young immigrant living in Toronto.

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.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the judges for volunteering their time and considerable expertise.