VENICE -- Rising new stars Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido have won the Marcello Mastroianni award for best young actor and actress at the 68th Venice Film Festival.
Sometani, 19, and Nikaido, 16, play the lead roles in "Himizu," directed by Shion Sono and based on a manga comic of the same title by Minoru Furuya.
It is an unusual film of youth, depicting 15-year-olds, an abused boy and his friend, struggling to find the meaning of life.
Sono, 49, who also wrote the screenplay, rewrote the script after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake to put the setting in a disaster-stricken area.
Critics raved about Sometani's performance, saying he skillfully expressed the protagonist's distorted emotions. Nikaido was cited for her performance as a friend who talks him out of committing suicide.
In the festival's Orizzonti selection for cutting-edge movies, Shinya Tsukamoto's "Kotoko" won the top prize for full-length films.
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