Naomi Kawase

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Nature is something that lies above humans.

Naomi Kawase (born 30 May 1969) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter


  • I usually start with an outline and the basic idea. But I keep the idea simple enough so that everyone on set can have it in their head. Everyone working on the film has to, as we say in Japanese, “put their antennas up,” and be aware of what is going on at all times, because at any given second we could be filming, we could be capturing a moment. Everyone on set has this understanding, and works toward this. The rough guidelines of the story, from point A to point B, are basically followed, but how you get there is a collaborative process. The audio guys on my films keep a wireless mike on me, because they never know when the camera is rolling! (laughs) Because they never know, they have to keep in close contact so that everyone’s on the same page. (discussing her creative process)
  • I didn’t come into filmmaking from, as you say, watching other films and then wanting to be a director. Fundamentally, it was my love of the medium of film as a tool to capture the moment, the moment that’s happening right now. When film was first invented, there was that excitement about its ability to capture a moment in time, the here and the now. And that’s really the starting point for my interest in the film medium.
  • I don’t think being able to see is the only thing cinema can offer. Other than that, it’s a media that lets you feel. The world portrayed on screen is something that’s seen, but what you hear and how you feel comes from a 2D screen to the 3D world we really live in. Cinema reminds us of this fact because the visually impaired live in this big world that is cinema. They feel cinema as if they are lying in the cinema itself, so by having audio help there’s the possibly that they understand the film even more than those who do not. I was talking to the producers of audio guides and their love for cinema was very close to mine. These encounters instigated the making of this film. (about the portrayal of visually impaired people in Hikari (Radiance), and how or in what ways cinema can relate to them)
  • My early works were shot mostly in 16mm and on Super 8. The great thing about Super 8 is that it captures details so well. It can be very subtle in how it communicates them to the public. Digital video has it own benefits, but screening Super 8 films had to be done in a private room, with a projector. This was the only way to share my work with the audience, and it felt private and intimate, like a diary. It was an ideal format. And I don’t mean just for conveying the materiality of objects, but also capturing things you cannot see with a naked eye, the internality, feelings. Digital just feels to me a lot more objective. (experience and influence of filming across different formats on her work)
  • Nature is something that lies above humans. Us, humans, have ended up damaging nature and destroying ecosystems for our own comfort, and have thus managed to exhaust the very planet on which we live. I think that it’s time for us to realize how precious it is to have the gift of living on this beautiful planet. Even though my powers are limited, I wanted as many people as possible to know the beauty of this world through the images in my films, and to realize that it’s not eternal, and so, in my work, I always treat nature like another character in the film, to which I have always paid respect. (discussing nature's dominating role in her films)
  • I feel that copying western storytelling wouldn't help tell my story, to communicate who I am fully. You know maybe I've been influenced by these different cultures, but I wasn't taught filmmaking by anyone in particular, I wasn't told what sort of eye to have or how to see the world. I just on set cut out the sort of images and the moments that really touch me and share that, and that's what I do as a filmmaker and I think the world needs individuality, it needs uniqueness, but it's so it's important to be different from others and I think that's what it's all about. I think it's about enjoying life and showing what is different about how you see things through film and that's the most important thing that we can do through filmmaking.

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