Japanese Films in Cannes

in 56th Cannes Film Festival

by Akiko Kobari

50 years ago, when Jean Cocteau was the president of the jury, Jigoku-mon (Gate of Hell), a Japanese film, received the Grand Prix. This year two films from Japan were shown in competition, others in sidebars. On May 20, Kiyoshi Kurosawa screened Akarui Mirai (Bright Future) at the festival palais. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is not the son of Akira Kurosawa, not even a relative. He is fascinated by strange, unusual and eccentric things like the really big tree he chose as the main object of Charisma in 1999. In Bright Future the jellyfish represent the people of today in Japan, people with modern religion and dreams of their future.

Before the final day, Naomi Kawase screened Sharasojyu (Shara) in competition. She now lives and works in her hometown in the Nara district. She works with amateur and professional actors as well. She is a young actress having no career yet, but she lightened up the dancing scene having studied the classical ballet with the Vaganova method.

On May 17, the 35th Directors’ Fortnight screened Takashi Miike’s Gozu (The cow’s head) at the Noga Hilton. His film received an enthusiastic response from the audience. It tells a surprising story that no one has imaginated before. Takashi Miike is a versatile filmmaker, the most productive in Japan, last month his previous film The Man in White was shown at the Film Festival of Cognac. If anyone asks me what is the difference between Takeshi Miike and Takeshi Kitano, I will say: I cannot judge their talent and the quality of their films, but the two directors differ widely. And Takashi didn’t have a good press officer for a long time as Takeshi Kitano had since Sonatine (1993) to his next film Zatou-ichi. Miike changes his press officer with each film, maybe because he is not happy with them. In Japan we can’t see Gozu at the movie theaters, we can only see it on video or DVD.

The Director’s Fortnight also screened two Japanese animations: Daft Punk & Leiji Matsumoto’s Interstella 5555 and Nasu Anderushia no nasu (Nasu: Summer in Andalousia).

What did Jean Cocteau think about the Japanese film 50 years ago? I think he was extraordinary proud about the Japanese filmmakers. This year, I saw 51 films in Cannes and I felt the great power of the directors and a real passion for cinema. I was deeply moved when I saw the Turkish film Uzak and I feel rather happy than tired now.

Merci à tous. Thank you. Arigatou!