THE BLOOM OF YESTERDAY wins Tokyo Grand Prix
Feature Film | Chris Kraus | 2016
The Bloom of Yesterday, from German director Chris Kraus (Four Minutes), won the $50,000 Grand Prix and the WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival.
The story of a Holocaust researcher who makes unexpected discoveries and sees his life turned upside down premiered at the fest.
Mabel Cheung (Jury Member at Tokyo International Film Festival) on the winner, THE BLOOM OF YESTERDAY by Chris Kraus
Cheung was asked about the Grand Prix winner deliberation: 'We discussed several films, but [the winner] stood out because it has a very special angle. It’s an impossible love story between the victim and the persecutor, and it sees the Holocaust from a very different angle which most of us have never seen. The message, finally, is to forgive and gradually, we can go back to our life. This is the subject matter which we really respected, and technically, it is a very well-made film. The cinematography and acting are very good, the director is amazing, and the control of the film. It is an exceptional film.'
Finally, Director Chris Kraus and producer Kathrin Lemme arrived, brandishing their Gold Kirin award. Their film, The Bloom of Yesterday, won both the Tokyo Grand Prix as well as the WOWOW Viewer’s Choice Award. Asked about the difficulties of getting the film made, Kraus said: 'They have to do with the theme, of course, and the mixture of the painful theme with a sense of humor. It makes it not so easy for funders and TV stations to join it, so we needed a couple of years to find people who wanted to make the film. In 2013, fortunately, we got an important German script prize, and that [allowed us to make it.]'
He admitted that it was a long journey to the film’s completion. 'The process began with my own research of my family story. So I wrote a book for my children and my family. I went to the archives to Riga and Russia and Berlin, and I found a very interesting thing: the grandchildren of the perpetrators and the victims sat there, and it was a delightful atmosphere, and they made fun of the situation. So at the very beginning we said yes, we need to treat this with a certain lightness.'
Lemme noted: 'When I read the script for the first time, I was very impressed. I loved the way the two subjects fit together. It also brought me to think about my own family. The film invites people to discuss this subject, and that worked on me as well.'
Kraus, who had mentioned how happy he was to be receiving the award from Jury President Jean-Jacques Beineix, during the Closing Ceremony, was asked which Beineix films he’d been watching when he was 19 or 20: 'I saw Diva and then, 3 or 4 years later, I saw Betty Blue. They were famous in Germany. I loved the mixture, the love story and pain, especially with Bette Blue. He was a hero of mine, so it was exciting to be on stage with him.'
Ends on an ambiguous note, and the director was asked whether he intended any message for future generations: 'It was just my romantic heart beating. To be honest, [the baby] is a big symbol, maybe there’s hope for reconciliation. It was a perfect image for that. Everyone hopes that we can overcome it. They have such a journey of pain in the film, we don’t know if they’re meeting again. There’s a child, but we don’t know if it’s really his, despite the name.'
The producer was asked whether she thought Toto and Zazie should form a new family. Lemme laughed, 'It’s a tricky question for me, since I asked the director the same question. I think I like the ending the way it is. It’s the perfect ending. You can’t end it like a clear romantic comedy, after what these two characters went through. Of course there’s a bit of hope, but [a different ending] would’ve been too direct.'