Magazine article Screen International

Mipo O, the Light Shines Only There

Magazine article Screen International

Mipo O, the Light Shines Only There

Article excerpt

Elbert Wyche talks to O about her fourth feature, a pensive drama about a depressed man played by Go Ayano who is trying to escape his painful past.

A chance encounter at a pachinko parlour leads him to Chinatsu, played by Chizuru Ikewaki, who lives in an equally difficult situation.

The Japanese foreign language Oscar submission earned best director prize at Montreal and best international feature at Raindance.

Where are some places the film has screened?We first opened in 30 theatres in Japan in April, and eight months later, even though the film is already out on DVD, it is still playing in theatres. At this point, it has played in over 100 theatres in Japan. Overseas, the film has played at Montreal World Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival, Kinotayo Film Festival in Paris, Cairo International Film Festival, and in Australia for Japan Foundation's traveling film festival. When the film won Best International Feature at Raindance Film Festival even though I was not there to promote the film personally, it let me know that the film had taken on a life of its own.How did the script come to you?This film is based on a novel by Yasushi Sato, who committed suicide at the age of 41 two decades ago. When I was first approached by the producer, the book was out of print, but in recent years, Sato's works have come back into the public consciousness. At first I myself tried adapting the screenplay, but in order to fully understand the male protagonist's psyche, we felt we needed a male perspective and so we brought in screenwriter Ryo Takada.Why was this a story you wanted to tell?The original novel was written 25 years ago, but still resonates today. The gap between the rich and the poor was vividly drawn and although Japan is a developed country, there is much disparity, for example, between cities and the countryside and within each area. I wanted to show how people in these worlds live.How did you find your stars Go Ayano, Masaki Suda and Chizuru Ikewaki? Was it easy to get them attached to the film?It was difficult to put together financing for this film. Just when we were talking about having to let go of the project, Go Ayano read the screenplay and reacted instinctively to it. …

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