Today (Friday, November 4), the winners of the 49th Japan Prize (nhk.or.jp/jp-prize) were revealed in an online awards ceremony that. The Grand Prix Japan Prize, the Best Works of each of the six divisions, and two special prizes were announced.
The Japan Prize is an international competition for educational media, covering feature films, shorts, television and more. This year’s competition received 353 entries and proposals from 57 countries and regions. The shortlisted works were judged by 12 producers and media professionals representing 12 countries.
This year’s Grand Prix winner is the 2D-animated feature Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo, from Canadian studio Tobo Media, directed by Marya Zarif & André Kadi. The film depicts the journey of Dounia, a six-year-old girl in search of asylum after being forced to leave her homeland of Syria due to the civil war. When she encounters the many obstacles that stand in the way of her journey, it is the wisdom of the fairy tales she heard as a child that come to her rescue.
Imbued with Syrian culture in both the animated visuals and the accompanying music, and based on interviews with Syrian refugee children, the story combines their real-life experiences with fantasy.
Dounia was also awarded the Best Work in the Primary Division (The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize).
Animation was further represented among the Special Prizes, with the colorful preschool-targeted short Luce and the Rock, directed by Britt Raes and produced by Thuristar, Studio Pupil and La Cabane Prod. (Belgium/France/Netherlands). The short was awarded the Japan Foundation President’s Prize, awarded to a work that encourages mutual understanding among nations and races or contributes to cultural exchange.
The film introduces Luce, a little girl living in quiet harmony with the rest of her small village — until a mysterious rock creature lands in the middle of everything, blocking the villagers from even opening their doors. Furious, Luce sets out to send the rock packing … but why is the rock there in the first place?
Awards also went to Little Tiger Feeding the Chickens (Best Work – Preschool Division), Spotless (Youth Division), Young Plato (Lifelong Learning Division), Cultural Heritage in 8K (Digital Media Division), Children of the Mist (UNICEF Prize), Teen Talk (Hoso Bunka Foundation Prize) and The Story of the Dew (National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan Prize).