Academic journal article Film Criticism

Kore-Eda Hirokazu Interview

Academic journal article Film Criticism

Kore-Eda Hirokazu Interview

Article excerpt


I interviewed Kore-eda Hirokazu on April 5, 2010 in a meeting room in the gleaming modern office of TV Man Union, the TV production company where he has worked since the start of his career. Unlike some directors who rattle off anecdotes and opinions, sounding like pre-recorded tapes, Kore-eda tends to mull over questions, even one he has doubtless heard dozens of times before. He speaks in rapid-fire bursts, as though releasing the pressure of pent-up thought.

Q: Is' there any difference between the director who made Maborosi [Maborosi no hikari, 1995] and the director you are now?

A: I see the overall film better now. [laughs] That's a hard one. [...] Films are difficult, I know that now. [laughs] Maborosi was a film about films, a film that was questioning what a film should be. I'm still asking what a film should be, but I'm trying to make films looking at the people in front of me, at the emotions in front of me, without preconceptions. I'm looking more at the overall film, again without preconceptions.

Q: When you made Maborosi, you had a documentary background, but it wasn't a film that looked like a documentary at all. Who were your influences for that film?

A: Hou Hsiao Hsien, [Theodoros] Angelopoulos and people like that. Naruse came a lot later, when I was making Still Walking [Aruitemo, aruitemo, 2008]. When I was making my first three films, I wasn't thinking of [Japanese] studio films so much. I didn't see any point in reviewing Ozu and Naruse and so on. The way they made those studio films and the way l was making my films were so different, I didn't think they'd have a lot to tell me. But when I was making Still Walking 1 had another look at Naruse, at how he filmed people, where he put the camera and so on.

But in the beginning I put a distance between myself and Japanese studio films.

Q: Abroad your films are often compared to those o f Japanese cinema's Golden Age--even though you may not always see the connection. [laughs!

A: I'm happy to be compared to people like Ozu and Naruse. I'm happy they think that way [about my films]. I can't imitate someone like Naruse, so I don't consider myself his descendant, but I've had another look at Naruse, as I said.

Q: One difference between Ozu and Naruse is that Naruse had a darker view of humanity.

A: Human beings are no good. [laughs]

Q: And he communicated that more directly in his films. I could especially see that same sort of viewpoint in Still Walking.

A: Right. More than Ozu, Naruse is closer to my own feelings about people.

Q: One difference between you and Naruse is that you often incorporate personal--that is, autobiographical--elements into your films. Is that personal element essential to you as a filmmaker? Would you find it hard to make a film without that sort of element? A: It's not that I'm trying to include personal elements [in my films]. It's just ends up that way.

I made liana [Hana yori mo naho, 2006] from the point of view of a son looking at his father. Still Walking also depicts a son looking at his mother and father. But now that I've become a father, I'll probably make a film from a father's point of view.

For me it's best if my films reflect changes in my personal life and my view of life in general. I'm not making movies looking at other movies. Instead, I'm looking at my own times and my own situation and making films based on all that.

Q: Some of your films deal with social issues, such as Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai, 2004), which showed the indifference of society toward the abandoned children in the film. Are you trying to change people's attitudes with that sort of critique?

A: No, that's not my aim. But after Nobody Knows was released, I got a number of letters from fans saying that after they saw the film, they became concerned about children they saw playing late in the evening in a neighborhood park and said something to them. …

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