Yojiro Takita looks for foreign opportunities

'Departures' director laments domestic lethargy

TOKYO -- "Departures" director Yojiro Takita sometimes worried that his Oscar-winning movie would never get seen during a 13-month struggle to get it released, he told reporters Thursday.

"It was difficult to attract interest from investors in the first place to a film so concerned with death. Then, once it was made, it was hard to sell it to people," Takita said at a press conference.

"It took 13 months from completion to get it released, which was an unthinkably long time to wait as a director," he said. Becoming frustrated and angry at the lack of progress, he admits calling up the staff working on publicity for the picture, and shouting at them, "Why don't you just put it in for the Academy Awards?"

Takita said that winning the main prize at Montreal last fall was the turning point for the film, which soon after obtained a domestic release.

Despite winning no less than 60 awards in Japan, it wasn't until the Oscars that "Departures" really generated a buzz domestically. The boxoffice has doubled to 6 billion yen ($60 million) since its release.

"It's a good question as to why Japanese films have to get recognized abroad before people pay attention to them at home -- I'd like to know the answer," Takita said with a laugh.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter after the press conference, Takita said he could see expanding his horizons beyond Japan.

"I'm waiting for the right opportunity to work with a foreign film company, and would have no problem trying to direct a film in another language," Takita said.