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19-year-old actor Shōta Sometani and 16-year-old actress Fumi Nikaidō, the leading duo in the manga-based film Himizu, won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress at the 68th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday.
Shion Sono (Suicide Circle, Strange Circus) wrote and directed this live-action film adaptation of Minoru Furuya's psychological drama manga. While Furuya is known for his gag manga Ike! Ina-chuu Takkyuubu (which inspired the Ping Pong Club comedy anime), Himizu is a far starker tale.
Sometani (live-action Uso-tsuki Mii-kun to Kowareta Maa-chan, Always: Sunset on Third Street '64) plays Yūichi Sumida, a third-year middle school boy who longs for a normal life, but a certain incident sets him on a descent into darkness. Nikaidō (Sono's Gama no Abura) plays Keiko Chazawa, Sumida's classmate.
The original manga ran in Kodansha's Weekly Young Magazine from 2001 to 2003, and Kodansha compiled and published four book volumes. Sono (Suicide Circle, Strange Circus) revealed that he had to rewrite the film's story before shooting, due to the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) disaster and the resulting nuclear power accident.
Not only did the film compete at Venice, but it is also playing this month at the Toronto International Film Festival. The newspaper Asahi describes the Venice event is one of the world's three top-tier film festivals.
Source: Asahi Shimbun
Update: No previous Japanese cast member has ever won the Marcello Mastroianni Award. Shinya Tsukamoto's Kotoko won the Orizzonti Award in the full-length film category.
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