Veteran actor Koji Yakusho won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes International Film Festival on Saturday.
The 67-year-old Japanese star received the award for his performance as a Tokyo toilet cleaner in “Perfect Days,” directed by German filmmaker Wim Wenders. The film revolves around Hirayama, a man devoid of friends who found solace in his love for literature, music, and gardening.
Yakusho, a former town hall employee in his hometown of Nagasaki Prefecture, became the second Japanese actor to win the prestigious recognition since Yuya Yagira’s victory in 2004 for “Nobody Knows” when he was just 14.
In his acceptance speech, Yakusho thanked Wenders and the entire production team for crafting a “fascinating” character in Hirayama.
Wim had given me very little information. … There was a lot of mystery. Even today, it’s a character I know almost nothing about. It was the first time I shot like that, over a very short period, without rehearsal.
Yakusho pursued acting in 1979 and gained prominence in 1985 for his breakout role in the film “Tampopo.” Another memorable role in the hit 1996 comedy film “Shall We Dance?”, where he played a salaryman exploring the world of ballroom dancing, further advanced his acting career.
He also played a leading role in Shohei Imamura’s “The Eel,” which secured the festival’s top honor, the Palme d’Or, in 1997. He then left his mark in Hollywood with appearances in notable films such as “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005) and “Babel” (2006) directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
Vietnamese-language drama film “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell” (“Bên Trong Vỏ Kén Vàng”), written and directed by Pham Thien An, won the Caméra d’Or, which is awarded for the best first feature film.
French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung received the Best Director award for his film “The Pot-au-Feu,” a culinary-focused French production starring Juliette Binoche and Benoit Magimel as a couple.
Japanese writer Yuji Sakamoto won the Best Screenplay award for “Kaibutsu (Monster),” directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. This accolade follows last year’s joint prize for Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe for “Drive My Car.”