Friday, May 02, 2014

2014 Cannes Check #4: Naomi Kawase

One of the two female directors in competition this year and one of the most amazing directors that use the language of images, silences and beauty to tell poignant stories that usually deal with not-so-pleasant -yet very simple- themes, at least for people living in the west.

Not really familiar with all her work as she has an extensive filmography consisting of mainly documentaries and documentary shorts, but VERY familiar with her later feature films like Mogari No Mori (The Mourning Forest) and Hanezu no tsuki (Hanezu) that absolutely blew my mind for her impressive and particular visual/narrative storytelling style.

Born on May 30, 1969 in Nara, Japan. Naomi Kawase (河瀨直美) was also known as Sentō Naomi (when she was married) and had a difficult childhood (abandoned by parents, raised by great-aunt) that gave her insights and inspiration for one of her movies, Moe no suzaku (Sukazu) that went in 1997 to Cannes in the Directors' Fortnight section and won the Caméra d'Or.

Her Cannes history continues in 2003 when Sharasôju (Shara) is screened in competition, continues in 2007 when Mogari No Mori was in competition and won the Grand Prix, then in 2011 Hanezu No Tsuki was in competition and last, Futatsume no mado (Still the Water) will screen in competition this year. Also in 2009 she received the Carrosse d’Or from the Directors’ Fortnight and last year she was a member of the main competition Jury. We can say that all her feature films after Mogari No Mori have opened in Cannes, making her one of the very-few female directors that usually their films open in the most prestigious festival.

Last year as a Jury member she gave an interview where she says that Godard, Tarkovsky, Erice are filmmakers that influenced her style , her way of depicting reality, so there you have a reference on how she sees herself as what viewers see in her movies probably is not the same. Me, well, absolutely do not see any of the three in the Kawase's movies I have seen, indeed I see more Ozu, Mizogushi, but perhaps it is just me.

Imagine that her latest film, Still the Water, will be visually stunning with a "simple" story told in her very particular style. If you wish to learn more about Naomi Kawase suggest you check her official site here, but she hasn't update a the English version since 2011, the Japanese version is up to date.

Basic Info about 2つ目の窓 Futatsume No Mado (Still the Water)
Director: Naomi Kawase
Scriptwriter: Naomi Kawase
Language: Japanese
Runtime: 1hr 56m
Production countries: Japan, Spain and France
Production companies: Kumie, Commes des Cinemas, arte, Eddie Saeta.

Plot Summary
On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami, traditions about nature remain eternal. During the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body floating in the sea. His girlfriend Kyoko will attempt to help him understand this mysterious discovery. Together, Kaito and Kyoko will learn to become adults by experiencing the interwoven cycles of life, death and love.

Stills from film and production

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