For Kore-eda, Japanese cinema is too ‘inward-looking’

The 60-year-old filmmaker regrets that Japanese productions do not meet with the same success abroad as South Korean works.

Director Hirokazu Kore-edahaloed by the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2018 for A family matter , considers that the smug attitudes and harsh working conditions in the local audiovisual industry prevent Japanese productions from meeting the same success abroad as South Korean works. He regrets that the Japanese cinema industry, in need of funding and “turned inward”no longer attracts young talent. “Our creative environment must change”said Kore-eda in an interview with AFP, pointing to low wages, extended hours and uncertainties about the future faced by those who start.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been able to focus on perfecting my craft. But looking around me, I see that young people no longer choose to work in cinema or television.. To add his stone to the building, the director of still walking and Nobody Knows chose to collaborate with three young directors on a series to be broadcast in January on the Netflix streaming platform. “It was rather me who stole things from them”jokes Kore-eda, praising the qualities of his young colleagues and their “material knowledge, much better” than his.

baptized Makanai: In the maiko kitchenthis nine-episode production adapted from a manga takes place in Kyoto (western Japan) in the community apprentice geishas. Japanese animation is appreciated all over the world, but films and series produced in the archipelago are struggling to exist abroad, compared to South Korean titles such as series Squid Game Where Parasite by Bong Joon-hothe first feature film in a foreign language to receive the Oscar for best film in 2020.

Local market

The South Korean government has spared no expense in supporting its audiovisual industry, enabling the creation of many worldwide hits over the past twenty years, but “meanwhile, Japan was looking inward” because the local market was enough for him, observes Kore-eda. “That’s why there is such a gap” between the two countries, thinks the filmmaker, who himself recently chose to exercise his talent outside the archipelago.

Turn The truth (2019) in France with Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche and The Lucky Stars (2022), a South Korean film about child trafficking, allowed him to better understand the shortcomings of Japanese cinema, he explains. Kore-eda and other Japanese directors called this year for the creation of a local equivalent of the Center National du Cinéma (CNC) in France to improve funding for audiovisual creation and working conditions. According to a 2019 Japanese government poll, two-thirds of Japanese film workers were unhappy with their pay and long hours, and worried about the future of the industry. “The filmmakers of my generation, and myself, we are resigned to the fact that we can no longer live only from our films”loose Hiroshi Okuyama, 26, one of the directors who participated in the new Netflix series.

Hirokazu Kore-eda and other filmmakers were also publicly outraged earlier this year after several actresses accused a Japanese director of sexual assault. Their calls to fight bullying, in a country that has hardly been won over by the #MeToo movement gone from Hollywood in 2017, pushed the union of Japanese directors to take action against harassment, “a big step forward”, greets Kore-eda. However, he calls for going further, in particular by putting in place protections so that victims can testify, and regrets that sexual harassment in Japan is still “seen as a people problem, when it should be approached as a structural problem”. Asked about his next projects, Kore-eda says he wants to look into the issues of immigration and abandonment, and work on “an epic”. “There are too many things I want to do”he said.

SEE ALSO – Jean-Christophe Ogier: “You can’t escape manga, it’s Japanese soft power par excellence”

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For Kore-eda, Japanese cinema is too ‘inward-looking’