Tokyo Festival: Naomi Kawase on Why She Loves Filmmaking and How Movies Are Like a "Time Machine"

Naomi Kawase

The Japanese auteur and Cannes regular also talks about her work style, being "like a hunter" when she directs and not paying attention to social media critics.

Japanese auteur and Cannes regular Naomi Kawase during a weekend master class at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival shared some insight into her work style and how her early life led her to her love for film. 

She shared that "I try not to have any other person" beyond the film team around when shooting, "because if there are any other eyes, I think the actors' attention is not" fully in focus.

As a director "I'm just like a hunter and watching the monitor," Kawase said in describing her directing work. "And I quietly speak" to the director of photography "to just give some direction for the angle of the camera." 

Kawase also mentioned that she does not pay attention to social media and its users' comments about her movies. "I sometimes see SMS, Twitter, Instagram ... Facebook," the director said. "People can write about things. I don't actually pay attention to those, but there are some things that come to me, and then they are some comment on my film, negative opinions. But I say well, you watched my film, didn't you? And I just wonder why are you watching if you don't like me." She concluded that the good thing is that people who express criticism probably pay attention to her work. 

Kawase also said she feels loyalty to acting talent she chooses to work with. "Once I decide, I keep the relationship until the end ... even if they want to kill me," she said, drawing laughs from the crowd at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo.

The Japanese auteur shared with her audience that she loved basketball in school, but then fell in love with filmmaking, saying she enjoyed her first experience with a camera as it was like having a "time machine" that captures the past. "I can keep the time, cut out the time, that is the origin of filmmaking for me," she explained. "Whether it's documentary or fiction, I'm living here, this moment can be kept with the film."

In that context, Kawase also mentioned that her life story played into that desire to record time. "I don't know who my father was, and my mother left me after she gave birth to me, and I was brought up by a woman ... who adopted me," Kawase said.  "I started to think about why I was born. I wanted the answer to that question, but nobody told me. And film gave me the answer. That's how I started filmmaking."