​May 31 2020

Hirokazu Kore-eda (movie director)

As a follow-up to the last post on a film director associated with Kamakura, Yasujiro Ozu, today I would like to introduce Hirokazu Kore-eda, a famous Japanese film director who is active today.

Kore-eda has been garnered with several accolades including prestigious awards from the Venice Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, and in 2018, he won the Cannes’ Palme d'Or for "Shoplifters," further reinforcing his reputation and recognition abroad.

Kore-eda is known to have started out as a documentary filmmaker whose films often depicted the absurdities of society and the shocking realities of people at the bottom rungs of society. His 2015 film, "Our Little Sister," on the other hand, is a film with a light-hearted plot that deeply and tenderly tugs at the heartstrings of its audiences with its subtleties. 

Kore-eda claims to not be particularly influenced by Ozu, but when I saw this film about the daily lives of four sisters living in an old Japanese house in Kamakura, I found the ambiance of the actress', the atmosphere of the old Japanese house, and the portrayal of the family relationships in the film recalled those of Ozu’s films.

True creators do not plainly imitate others; although they may be inspired by them, they confront what lies within their hearts that they want to express and give birth to original works of art through the pain of labor. Works produced in this manner seem to produce a condensed essence of something universal in an original form that cannot be readily copied and pasted or sold, and they move us beyond the boundary of time and location.

Something I felt from "Our Little Sister" that was common to Ozu films may perhaps be due to their location in Kamakura, or it may be due to the common themes of family and daily life. Kore-eda wrote the screenplay for the film at Chigasaki-kan, an inn where Ozu was a regular, which was directly north of Enoshima, and his staying in the same room where Ozu had stayed could have had something to do with this. (In fact, a team member of Local Focus also stayed in Ozu’s room and composed a portion of the Kamakura guidebook there) But on the other hand, this is all just my personal musing.

In any case, it's certain that both Ozu and Kore-eda are superb filmmakers who create films that transcend the time and countries and create masterpieces that strike a chord with their audiences. So putting aside all else, it’s interesting to compare the black and white scenes of Ozu’s Kamakura to Kore-eda’s modern day Kamakura. So, if you ever get tired of your regular Netflix pickings, I strongly recommend watching "Our Little Sisters."

(Mariko and Norie, LOCAL FOCUS production members)

*Kore-eda's official website
http://www.kore-eda.com/english/works.html

*"Our Little Sister" on Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Our-Little-Sister-Haruk…/…/B01N3V7XRF

*Review on The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/…/our-little-sister-review-an-e…

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​ Photo credit: Sarah Goff, Taisuke Yokoyama