Miwa Nishikawa’s The Long Excuse (永い言い訳) won the top award at this year’s Nippon Connection film festival in Germany (May 23-28).

The film beat out 18 other films in the Nippon Cinema competition, including Shunji Iwai’s A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (リップヴァンウィンクルの花嫁), Sabu’s Happiness (ハピネス), Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Daguerreotype, and Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno projects Dawn of the Felines (牝猫たち) and Wet Woman in the Wind (風に濡れた女). The award was chosen via audience votes.

Nishikawa will receive €2,000 (US$2,240) for the prize.

The Nippon Visions awards – devoted to the indie films in the festival – went to Ayako Imamura’s Start Line (スタートライン) (Audience Award) and Hirobumi Watanabe’s Poolsideman (プールサイドマン) (Jury Award). The winner of the Audience Award will receive €1,000 (US$1,120) while the winner of the Jury Award – picked by Bastian Meiresonne, Yuka Sakano and Nobuhiro Yamashita – will receive free subtitling for her next film. Yujiro Harumoro’s Going the Distance (かぞくへ) also won a special mention from the jury.

Established in 1999, Nippon Connection is one of Europe’s largest showcase of Japanese films. Its 17th edition saw 100 feature length and short films screened for 16,500 visitors. This year, actor Koji Yakusho received the Nippon Honor lifetime achievement award.